Now is a stressful time for business owners. In just a few short weeks, the Coronavirus pandemic has changed the world we live in and the way we do business.
With self-isolation measures now being enforced in Australia and around the world, thousands of businesses are being forced to either close up shop or quickly adapt to the new normal.
How can mobile apps help businesses?
The world was already going mobile long before Covid19 came along. Consumers were on average spending more free time on their mobile devices than on desktops, at an average of three hours and thirty minutes a day. Apps took the lion’s share of that time with 90% spent in apps and 10% spent web browsing.
Once an afterthought, mobile app strategies have become commonplace with many businesses now taking a mobile-first approach. This makes perfect sense given the amount of time consumers spend on their phones and the unprecedented engagement opportunities made possible by mobile.
Of course, not all industries were as fast to adopt mobile strategies. Small businesses with bricks-and-mortar shop fronts in-particular, have been much slower to go mobile. The cost of mobile app development in Australia and the personal nature of these businesses has meant mobile apps have been a much lower priority.
Now that the word is in lockdown, this will change, fast.
Not only are people unable to leave their houses to go to non-essential, face-to-face businesses but they are also spending even more time on their mobile devices. For businesses to survive, they need to innovate quickly and go where the people are. That means going mobile.
Right now custom app development might not be a fast enough solution. So, I’ve put together a list of mobile apps for business that can help you go mobile fast. Here goes.
Apps for businesses to go mobile now!
1. Shopify & Tapcart
Shopify is already used by over a million businesses around the world. It’s a simple, powerful and robust platform that enables you to sell your products and services online.
The only problem is that Shopify is web-only and doesn’t give you a native app. That means you miss out on the convenience of an app, the extra promotion through app stores and handy features like push notifications. This is where Tapcart comes in.
Tapcart is available on the Shopify app store and enables you to generate native apps for iOS and Android from your Shopify store.
The Tapcart interface gives you a drag and drop interface to populate your app with your Shopify products and content. It also allows you to customize the styling of your app to suit your brand.
There are of course also downsides, but they aren’t deal breakers, given the circumstances.
- The feature set isn’t tailored specifically to your needs. While this isn’t usually a big issue, it does mean you may have to make some compromises that you wouldn’t otherwise have to make if you developed an app from scratch.
- Taking your Tapcart app and launching on the Apple and Google app stores, is quite technically involved. Tapcart will provide instructions but for the less tech-savvy among us, you may need to involve an app developer to help with those final stages.
Verdict: To quickly go mobile with your products and services nothing beats Shopify and Tapcart.
2. Live Streaming Apps
For personal trainers, yoga instructors, consultants, therapists and even entertainers, live streaming has suddenly become one of the only ways to keep operating. But with so many options out there and such little time to make the transition, which is the best platform for your needs?
There are plenty of streaming options to connect you to your customers remotely. The right one for you will depend on your requirements and those of your customers.
Do you need two-way video conferencing, so you can see your customer and they can see you?
Try Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom or Whereby.
They can all do the basics pretty well. It really comes down to your preference and which apps your customers are most familiar with.
Just need to broadcast your own live video for others to watch in real-time?
Try Facebook Live or Youtube Live.
They each have their pros and cons. YouTube has better quality video while Facebook has a bigger audience. Again, it probably comes down to where your customers would prefer to be as both platforms will get the job done.
Want to run paid webinars where people register to tune in?
Give Demio, WebinarNinja or Zoom a go.
All three enable you to run free or paid webinars. Demio offers live or automated webinars with extensive automation and replay facilities. WebinarNinja features a very clean and simple design and extensive integration options. Zoom has handy engagement tools like Q&As and audience polls.
Verdict: Pick a platform that suits your needs and that your customers are familiar with.
3. Delivery Apps for Business
This is a no brainer for cafes and restaurants who are most-likely already on a couple of these, Like Uber eats and Deliveroo. These apps take quite large commissions though so you might want to try a more sustainable option like Klooper. Klooper is an app founded in Melbourne for Melbournians. It charges restaurants low commissions and donates a portion of every order to Foodbank Victoria.
But, on-demand delivery doesn’t need to be restricted to food businesses only. Apps like Go-fetch bring the convenience of crowdsourced pick ups and drop offs to any business with a product to sell.
Verdict: Any business can be on-demand with apps like Go-fetch.
For service businesses in industries like design, accounting, legal, engineering or consulting, now might be a good time to broaden your market geographically using Upwork.
Upwork was once a dedicated platform for freelancers to provide their services to customers anywhere around the world. It now caters to virtually any service-based business and facilitates the entire process of matching customers with service-providers, logging time against projects and handling payment and delivery milestones.
Upwork has a website and mobile app and it’s super convenient for businesses and freelancers who can do their work from home.
Verdict: Setup a business profile on Upwork to expand your market internationally.
5. Team Chat
For businesses with teams that need to be in constant communication with one another, being forced apart by the social distancing measures can make that difficult. A lot of offices already use Slack, particularly in larger teams. If you haven’t already, jump on Slack and create some channels right now for your team to communicate through.
Slack is easy to set up, simple to use and it’s free to a certain extent. It enables your staff to chat, send attachments, comment, like and everything else you’d expect from a comms tool like this.
Slack can be used on desktop or the mobile app. The app can send push notifications which is handy for alerting your team members when they aren’t sitting at computers.
If audio chat is more your style, you can’t go past Discord. Originally designed for gamers to talk while they play, Discord is great for bringing back some human connection when things start to get lonely at home.
Verdict: Jump on Slack or Discord to keep the team connected.
Hopefully the virus will pass and everything will be back to normal within a few months. Some of these apps may just help get your business through the downturn. You never know, you may even find these apps change the way you do business forever. Like I said, the world was going mobile anyway, so this may be a good opportunity to catch up.
By Joseph Russell — DreamWalk founder
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