Mobile Apps Go Native: Part I
Mobile apps have made it easier for companies to engage with customers in real-time with a simple touch of a finger. But as mobile technology continues to mature, so do the demands and expectations of customers and employees. In this two-part blog series, I’m going to take you through the growing need for companies to adopt a native mobile strategy and the role low-code plays in building native apps.
Let’s go native – but why?
Most companies have gone through the tedious exercise of making sure all their web content is mobile-friendly, ensuring everything adjusts gracefully on screens of all sizes. If you haven’t done this yet, make this an urgent priority now that being mobile-friendly, or “responsive,” is the bare minimum for a mobile experience. For those of us already delivering responsive content, let’s not start patting ourselves on the back quite yet.
Remember, providing responsive content is just the bare minimum. And if you’re satisfied with offering mobile web applications to customers and internal users, you’re missing out on an opportunity to deliver true business innovation.
Native mobile apps made smartphones what they are today – mobile computers.
The real value of going mobile is in increasing sales, decreasing operational costs, and building customer loyalty. And the only way to get there is by building native mobile apps. Native apps are interactive, intuitive, and have the potential to carry out functions that are either not possible or significantly reduced in mobile web; thereby delivering the best user experience. Additionally, capabilities like enhanced performance, security, device integration, and offline support make native mobile apps more productive than their web counterparts.
The native app experience is so compelling that studies report users to spend 87% of their time using native apps versus just 13% in the browser. On average, time spent by each user is about 16 times longer on mobile apps than on mobile websites. It’s no surprise that native mobile apps have become the ultimate business disrupter. By introducing competitive differentiators, native apps can enable employees to complete tasks quicker, make customer engagements simpler, navigate users through a problem faster, or augment how we see the world in real-time. Uber.com didn’t turn the taxi world on its head; their native mobile app did.
What makes native mobile apps so special?
Let’s look at how companies can use native apps.
Using native mobile apps to build customer loyalty
As companies continue to invest in native mobile apps, providing customers with a high-quality mobile experience is a “must-have.” 85% of customers are unlikely to continue engaging with a company following a bad mobile experience.
So not only do we need a native app to grab customer’s attention, but we need a compelling user experience to build customer loyalty. Think functionalities like login with Touch/Face ID, swipe gestures for navigation, push notifications on phones and smartwatches, retrieve product information via barcode scans, find the nearest location via GPS, augment surroundings in real-time with important information, and the list goes on. Nobody wants a bad mobile experience. Not your customers. Not your business. Present users with a personalized native experience and they will never jump over to your competitor’s app.
Now that we have customers using our app, how do we compel them to buy something and increase our revenues?
Using native mobile apps to increase revenue
In a recent comparison between native apps vs mobile websites, native mobile apps triumphed over efficiently optimized mobile websites in terms of both user engagement and conversion. With a difference in conversion rates of 100% to 300%, it is abundantly clear that any extra effort required to produce a robust native app will translate into increased revenue. But the key to your native app’s success is to know what impedes customers from purchasing and knowing how to remove that barrier leveraging mobile technology.
Case in point: IKEA determined its customers are hesitant to buy furniture, especially online because they’re unsure if it will fit in their room or match their decor. In turn, IKEA built a native mobile app called IKEA Place. The app leverages augmented reality (AR), so customers can virtually place items in their room to see if they fit and match the surroundings.
IKEA claims the 3-D furniture scales with 98 percent accuracy on the screen and displays the texture, fabric, lighting, and shadows of the furniture in true-to-life detail. This is a perfect example of identifying your customer’s barrier to purchase (size and style) and selecting the perfect mobile technology (augmented reality) to attack it.
Using native mobile apps to reduce operational costs
For me, the most persuasive aspect of going native is the ability to make an immediate impact on operating costs by streamlining internal processes, improving the productivity of remote workers, and enforcing data accuracy.
It’s amazing what shaving 10 minutes off a process that is used by hundreds of employees ten times per day will do to your bottom line. Or how enabling barcode scanning and GPS services in your app assists delivery drivers to complete routes in record time with fewer errors. Or how leveraging the offline capabilities enables your employees on the field or in remote locations to do their jobs without any signal.
Back to the IKEA example, their native app was able to take their customer’s guesswork out – wondering if a piece of furniture will work in a room. As a result, IKEA will have fewer returns and can now staff their returns department with fewer people. Returned items assembled by the customers are usually moved to the clearance section of the store and IKEA takes a hit on the sale of these items. So besides increasing sales revenue, the native app also saved IKEA money on the backend operations.
Now, if native apps are so awesome, why doesn’t everyone build them? Can low-code help? Stay tuned for part two of the series to learn more about developing native apps. Until then check out Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Multiexperience Development Platforms to learn more about the native mobile and multi-experience apps landscape.