Question: I run a small cafe that has a strong base of customers and most connect to our WiFi on their mobiles. Could a mobile app help improve business?
Jonny Kelly, commercial director at creative digital agency Origin Partners:
Answer: More than one-fifth of the people on the planet now own a smartphone and, if designed correctly, apps can be a smart way to connect with consumers and help improve sales.
The app marketplace is a busy one. On average each iPhone user has downloaded 37 apps from a choice of more than 700,000. But the very best and most used apps focus on one simple idea - giving an experience that customers need or want.
It's important to remember that any app should be more than just a mobile version of the company website. It needs to relate to the interests of your target audience, complement your business objectives and extend your marketing strategy.
A loyal customer base that already uses smartphones gives you a rare opportunity to make full use of mobile technology. The leading retail apps work because they tap into social media that customers use, reward loyalty and provide a fun way to interact with the brand and others. This could be, for example, through a 'check in' leaderboard showing most frequent visitors to the cafe.
Simple features can also allow consumers to use the app as a functional item that adds value to their visit, from calculating tips to making suggestions for new coffees or getting reductions on their bill with mobile vouchers.
By offering a smart focal point for consumers to engage with your brand, you can transform customers into a loyal community.