We call them “cell phones”. But though they remain communication tools, they are no longer “phones”.

We increasingly use them to:

  • Make Direct Payments to shops or other people,
  • Collaborate with others in a social or professional group,
  • Obtain transparent reports and ratings from shops and consumers.

These uses of our cell phones will see new app services for the benefit of the consumer in future years and major players will evolve in the future. I have been working on collaborative platforms for the past two years and I do believe something big will emerge in the next few years.

But interestingly, I believe the greatest leaps in app usage will come from Small and Midsize Enterprises (SMEs). In particular those catering to consumers. Indeed, these will permit these specialty and local shops to create and participate in communities with their clients, keeping them informed of their role and what benefits they can bring.

But what are the dominating characteristics of these trend-setting apps for SMEs for the coming year?

Alfredo Rojas, from Baum Digital, defines these 5 points

Promotion and loyalty: Mobile business apps are very convenient for businesses relying on consumer sales such as restaurants, cafes, shops… It allows them to implement promotional programs and loyalty rewards to thank customers who bring them more business buy sharing their experience with their friends. This becomes part of the experience and increases the value of the offer. Furthermore, the business is coaxed into excellence by their customers as they which to maintain the reputation given to them by their clientele.

Improve customer service: for an SME, it is essential to have an efficient customer service. Traditionally this service has been provided by phone, e-mail or web and chat. However in a world where people are increasingly connected to each other via smartphones, it makes sense to adopt a customer service that can offer personalised, geo-located service, in real-time to cater to customer needs.

Keep customers informed: mobile apps are a great resource to provide SME customers with information about their products and services of interest without pressure to consume. We all want to know about real opportunities so that we can seize it when the right one comes along!

Increase the visibility of the business: the mobile and connection revolution has changed the habits of people seeking products or services. We are now virtually connected everywhere and all the time. A mobile application installed in a business’s customer’s phone will act as a privileged connection between the business and its client base, especially if the content is useful and fun!

Mobile commerce: stats show us the phenomenal role smartphone are starting to play in e-commerce. People choose online, then go to the shop, then add or change something on their way home before final delivery. Apps are also innovating in secure payment methods. Today, it is essential to consider adding mobile applications to any SMEs sales model.

These are of course general ideas on how mobile applications can help the development and consolidation of SMEs. In any case, it is important that an SME business owner analyse their specific needs and goals so that, in conjunction with app development professionals, they can define the proper app for them. Then, just sit and watch the business grow!!