I won’t pretend to know the real answer to this question. Each small business is different. To summarize this without you having to read the whole article I will say for most companies it’s not worth the time, effort of money.
The other day at a Hackers and Founders meetup I ran into someone who builds apps for a living. His comment was that apps are like websites and everyone small business should have one.
Keep in mind the person makes a living off of making apps for small businesses and lives in the app world.
My push back was that it just isn’t practical for most companies to have their own app.
I spent 30K+ on developing an app called LocalLedge. It’s a rather brilliant app in my mind that allows people to chat, send video and images in a specific geographic radius set by the user.
After pushing 15K installs to my app I ended up having to back off it as the user base was not sticking around.
From getting my own app developed I can say there are lot’s of little issues when it comes to getting an app built. You have constant maintenance to keep the app up to date and fully compatible with the every changing Ios and Android operating system as well as device specific issues.
Each store has it’s own ticks and issues but let’s say for the sake of argument you can build an HTML5 app that is currently compatible on iOS and Android and you don’t have to shell out 500 to a 1000 dollars every quarter for updates to the app.
Where are you going to get your users???? Are people actually going to use your app? Would you use your app?
This is my biggest argument. If I was a hair stylist. Why would I need an app? I suppose people could use my app to schedule appointments but then again they already should be able to do this right on my website.
I could send out reminders but then again I could do this with e-mail or better yet picking up the phone and calling the client or sending them a reminder in the mail.
If this person was a loyal customer then how many times a year would they be using my app, 4 times maybe. Do you keep apps on your phone that you only use 4 times a year?
Circling back to my first point of where are you going to get users? I really don’t know besides you telling current customers to download your app.
Apps may play a bigger role in the future for small businesses. I won’t say they aren’t ever beneficial because there are real cases for small business to have an app but for now the payoff is too minute and the cost too high to really make this worth most companies efforts.