Mobile App vs. In-Store iPad App: What Makes Sense For Your Business?

This day in age it’s difficult to make it through a day or two without hearing the word “app.”  Businesses especially are getting caught up in the craze, many running out and spending thousands on their own custom designed app.  Thinking an app for your business will  move you into the “trendy” or “innovative” status may be a misconception as they are becoming more commonplace.  We basically separate the apps a business may use for their customers into two separate categories: mobile based apps a consumer would download onto their personal device and in-store apps a business would install on their own iPads displayed around the store that consumers can interact with.  Below we will evaluate the two options. Which makes sense for your business?

Mobile Based Apps

Pros:  The main advantage to building a mobile based app for your customers to download and use on their own personal device is that they are in fact “mobile.”  A consumer can access information regarding your business anywhere, anytime.  Sales and new product information can be sent directly to consumers through “push notifications” in real-time to keep them in the know.  Also, consumers are usually more comfortable handling their own devices as opposed to using a public device.  Retail businesses with online e-commerce sites can especially benefit from a mobile app as consumers can purchase their products easily on the go.

Cons:  There are a few major flaws that need to seriously be considered regarding mobile based apps .  The biggest hurdle is that consumers have to actually download your app onto their device, taking up precious screen real estate and memory.  Also, consumers use smartphones with different operating systems, meaning you may need to spend extra money developing both iOS and Android versions of your app.

As more and more businesses start pushing their mobile apps to consumers, they will become overwhelmed.  Even if a consumer downloads your app, how often are they really going to open it when they aren’t in your store (or even when they’re in your store).  Content within the mobile app will need constant updating to keep users interested.  In many cases, it may be cheaper and more effective to send important information via email to consumers.

In-Store iPad Apps

Pros: The main advantage utilizing an app on your business’s iPad for consumers to interact with is that the consumer doesn’t need to download anything.  Now all consumers can be targeted, even those without smart phones.  Your business can strategically position the iPad within a store to put your app and marketing message right in the face of the consumer so they can’t miss it.  Have you ever seen a gas station with the TV monitor at the pump that shows recent news clips mixed in with advertisements while you pump your gas?  Same concept.  Today a number of in-expensive retail iPad apps exist for businesses that can be customized to fit your individual needs.

Cons:  The main disadvantage to this method is that your business will need to purchase iPads and display hardware.  Although not as expensive as it once was, it’s still a consideration.  Most in-store iPad apps are designed to run on their own and require little maintenance from staff.  However, tasks such as powering the iPad on and off may be needed.  Also, your app will only be accessible at your store which limits a consumer’s access to it.

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Deciding on which method is better for your business really comes down to the industry and business model being used.  Considering the above, we believe the majority of businesses could benefit from utilizing an In-Store iPad App.  However, certain businesses, such as those with regularly updated online content or e-commerce features may be better off with a mobile based app.

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