I was recently reading an article on Restaurant Hospitality arguing that mobile apps are a “must-have” for restaurants, and mobile-optimized websites are just not enough anymore. In today’s omnichannel environment, you, an independent or small-chain restaurant or retail owner or manager, need to communicate with your customers on their preferred channels.
Furthermore, the author identified push notifications and personalization as two additional arguments in favour of sourcing an app for your restaurant. Again, push notifications, outside of operational costs, do not cost you anything to send. Great! But what happens when the user turns off Notifications in their settings, or uninstall your app?
Using this faith-based mentality, there are endless reasons to build or source an app for your business – in-app ordering, purchases and loyalty, are just a few.
If you want an app built for your loyal customers, and that’s to say the benefits of sourcing, deploying and operating an app outweigh the costs, then go for it. But if you’re building an app to create loyalty, research has shown that brand loyalty drives mobile usage, not the other way around; meaning not everyone walking into your retail shop or restaurant will download your app, especially first-time customers. You should not build this app like it’s going to be a silver bullet for attracting new customers. Realize that you need a critical mass of loyal customers to make this thing work for your business.
Here are two ideas to implement right now, while you build momentum for your app:
Try SMS Messaging
If you’re trying to reach as many prospective customers as possible, maybe you should start off with sending text messages. 95% of text (SMS) messages are opened; SMS messages are not subject to uninstalls; SMS message are not destined to the junk mail folder; and, if it doesn’t work the first time, well, you’re not stuck with an app you don’t need.
If you don’t have this data, you should start capturing this information in your storefront – PRONTO. It’ll be much easier to ask or incentivize first-time customers to share this information than to download an app.
Invest In Communities
Do you know where your target audience hangs out online? Is it on Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin, or other social sites. Maybe they love to read blogs, I don’t know – but you should. You need invest resources in existing communities to find and attract your ideal customer.
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If you have an example of an independent, small chain automotive retailer, clothing retailer or restaurant that is killing it with an app, please share that info with us. We’d be happy to promote any innovative independent or small chain brick-and-mortar! Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org