The importance of mobile in business

By May.06, 2016

Ross Menghini from Apadmi

Ross Menghini from Apadmi

I’m Ross Menghini, business development manager at leading mobile app developer, Apadmi. This week I visited the University of Salford Business School to speak to final year Business Information Technology students taking the eCommerce Consulting and Practice module about the growing importance of mobile in business.

I discussed mobile technology and why it’s becoming a crucial channel for businesses now and in the future.

Have you heard of mobile first? Mobile Apps? or Mobile-friendly?

Below is an overview of what I spoke to the students about…

Mobile in business – why bother?

Digital has exploded over the past decade and now touches nearly every sector in the business world in some capacity. Mobile, on the other hand, has only been popular for the past few years – leaving some businesses (and even entire sectors) baffled as to how they can use it to their advantage. As consumers frequently move from desktop, to laptop, to mobile in order to do anything from shopping to interacting with friends and family, these businesses need to figure out how they’re going to use mobile in the digital mix to reach us. If they don’t, they risk falling behind the competitors that are embracing this technology.

There are a number of ways that businesses can bring mobile into their strategies. For retailers, rewarding customers that return through loyalty schemes on their mobile phones will make it easier for them to collect points, and encourage interaction on this platform. For other businesses, mobile apps can be used for internal communications via a networking app. And businesses whose staff work in shifts can benefit from this technology too, as timetables can be uploaded to an app so that all staff can access it, and it can be updated with ease.

These are just a couple of examples, but there are a lot of ways that businesses can adopt mobile to enhance the experience of their customers or even their staff. As a result, some companies are starting to think about mobile at the beginning stages of their online strategy.

What is the Mobile First approach?

To put it simply: Mobile First is the idea that you should design for smaller screens first, then add more features for bigger screens later. Considering there are over 1.2 billion mobile users worldwide, it’s not surprising that some designers and businesses are thinking ‘Mobile First’.

Back in 2010, Eric Schmidt announced that Google was going to take a mobile first approach from now on, even stating: “I think it’s now the joint project of all of us to make mobile the answer to pretty much everything.” Despite this big announcement from one of the largest online companies in the world, six years ago now, for some reason we still see the majority of businesses heading straight to desktop when they develop or reassess their online strategy. Google will have an impact on every business in its search engine results pages (SERPs), so it’s important that they take note of these kinds of announcements and try and implement any changes into their business plans.

If we think about it, starting small and then scaling up is an easier way to design a website or mobile app, instead of trying to squash all of the information from a website onto a smaller screen. It’s common sense, and businesses and designers would do well to consider this before they embark on a project.

The Mobile First approach and the adoption of it by internet-giant Google, simply emphasises the importance of this channel.

Mobile apps and mobile-friendly websites and why they’re both important

All businesses should have a mobile-friendly website – or they risk being penalised by Google in its rankings, which means they may miss out on custom from consumers searching for them on this channel.

Having a site that is mobile-friendly involves applying either a responsive or adaptive design, so that it moves to fit the screen size of the device it’s opened on. This could be a mobile, IPad, or laptop. But, whichever design is chosen, this should be in addition to a mobile app.

I’m yet to see a business that can’t benefit from a mobile app in some way. An app can complement a brands’ existing online and instore experience, as well as offer entirely new functions and features that you wouldn’t otherwise have if you relied solely on a mobile-friendly website.

For a clothing brand, an app could have a camera function so that users can see what they will look like in certain clothing items. For a supermarket, an app could use push notifications to send customers messages about offers on that day via their phone, as they walk around the store – new beacon technology that uses Bluetooth to interact with devices that have this function enabled allows us to do this, and that’s ‘the next big thing’ in apps and is especially useful for retailers.

Mobile-friendly websites are great for making sure a business is available across different platforms, but apps can elevate a user experience for consumers, and so offer so much more.

Here are some soundbites caputured during the talk to the students

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