In addition to having a mobile-responsive site, you may also want to build a dedicated app for your business. Thankfully you don’t have to spend thousands having an agency build this for you; there are ways of doing it yourself even if you don’t know how to code. Building a low-cost business app may be your solution, but first let’s discuss a few things:
Does Your Business Need an App Yet?
Firstly you should be thinking if your business needs an app, or will it be better to focus on a mobile responsive site initially? Most new ecommerce businesses may do better to use their resources on making their mobile responsive site the best it can be, as the time and costs involved in building and managing a mobile app across several platforms may outweigh the benefits in the early days.
First, Develop Your Mobile Strategy
The rise of the mobile customer has been fast, especially in emerging markets where access to cheaper smartphones and mobile internet has brought many new customers online. As such it is very important to address this market and develop a mobile strategy for your business.
As an example, you may choose to develop a mobile responsive site initially, which will function adequately and process orders for your mobile users for the first 6-12 months. After your sales volumes reach a certain threshold, you may then choose to invest the time and money into developing a mobile app for your repeat customers and those you can attract via the Apple and Android app stores. You can run apps alongside your mobile responsive site in the future, giving your customers more options when it comes to browsing and purchasing from your site.
Use ShoutEm To Build Your App for Shopify or WooCommerce
There are a number of Software as a Service (SaaS) DIY app building companies available and www.shoutem.com seems to have a great following among Shopify and WooCommerce ecommerce users. Plugins can be installed for each of these platforms allowing your app and ecommerce store to talk to each other, and making it possible for you to build your own app via a drag-and-drop process on the ShoutEm website. You’ll pay around US$49 per month for the service with a minimum 1 year commitment, or US$58 month to month, so smaller businesses might want to build their sales up first to justify this extra expense.
How does it work? If you are using Shopify or WooCommerce, install the ShoutEm app (called a plugin in WordPress) and open the interface. You can start with a trial version first and see how it fits your business before spending any money. The user interface is simple to use and you can pull together the look and feel of your app within an hour or so, integrating your existing Shopify or WooCommerce products into the app.
When you are happy with the app layout and functionality, click on Publish at the top right of the screen, which will prompt you to choose a payment plan (or choose a free trial), and then proceed to submitting your app to the Android and Apple app stores. Note that Google is generally a lot more lenient than Apple in approving apps for their app stores, so you may find you have to wait longer and make several adjustments to your app before having it live on the Apple app store.
Then, How Will You Market Your App?
As with the internet in general, the Apple and Android app stores are busy, competitive places with many different apps vying for your customers’ attention. How will you get your prospective customers to download and use your app? Will your app mainly be for existing repeat customers to use, and in that case how many of those customers to you have at present? These questions will help you validate the viability of building and hosting your app using ShoutEm or a similar service.