Written on December 22, 2016 by Stephan Wehner.

If you think your business is too small enough to have its own mobile app, you’d (probably) be wrong.

A recent study by Clutch.co revealed that roughly 20% of American small businesses now have their own mobile apps, and that number is growing.

In this article, we’re going to talk about 3 real life small businesses and how they’ve used mobile apps to give their business a boost.

The Gentlemen’s Barber

This New York barber has stepped up their game – who would’ve thought that your local barber has gone tech-savvy?

The Gentlemen’s Barber app is a good start to our list: it has a few standard yet powerful features that many small business will find useful.

Firstly, the app allows customers to make bookings in advance. This simple feature is actually far more useful than most think it is. Obviously, it makes life easier for customers. But beyond that, the Gentlemen’s Barber has essentially attracted an entirely new class of customers. Where do you think a busy millennial is going to go for their haircut now? This isn’t just speculation – the Gentlemen’s Barber app has seen 6,000 downloads and a massive expansion in business.

The app also contains a loyalty scheme of sorts. Gone are the days of loyalty coupons which inevitably get thrown into the washing machine by accident – everything is done via the app. This is another classic feature in small business apps and a great way to lock-in your customers in the long-run.

Finally, customer can make payment via the app – this itself makes the Gentlemen’s Barber stand out from its competitors due to sheer convenience.

Mount Royal Bagel Company

This local bagel place is our next case study.

You’ll notice some similarities with the previous example: Mount Royal Bagel’s app also features a loyalty scheme and a option to place an order in advance. There are a few other basic features: a menu, opening times, and a click-to-call button within the app.

The app has 1,400 downloads and has apparently boosted sales by 40%. Seems like a typical successful business story. Why do we even bother discussing it?

Well, I picked this example to show you another powerful feature of small business apps: in-app promotions.

Picture this: the day’s getting late and your bakery is about to close. You have a few pastries left to sell, and you can’t keep them overnight. What can you do?

Without an app, not much. With an app? Blast a message out! With a push notification, you can alert your customers and let them know you’ll give them a special price on the remaining pastries.

Or maybe you’ve created a new variety of bagel and you want to aggressively promote it. Again, just send an alert out with a deal for your customers.

This is one reason why apps for small businesses can be so powerful – you are in constant contact with your customer. Your promotions get heard – both you and your customer benefit.

Muve Mag

While the first two examples are fairly standard small business apps, for our last case, I’d like to show you the full range of power that can be contained an app.

Muve Mag is a local arts & culture magazine in Oklahoma that publishes monthly.

But publishing monthly doesn’t quite do it these days – Muve Mag readers wanted more engagement. More updates. More news.

And Muve Mag delivered!

Their Muve Mag app now features a news feed. Users get a up-to-date stream of the latest happenings in Oklahoma’s art & culture scene – events, performances, gigs etc.

Now, this news stream features is something I’d like to talk about a bit more. You may not operate a local magazine, but a new streams is still a remarkably useful feature to have. If you operate a business that offers classes (e.g. a gym, a painting class, yoga instruction), you can use this feature to send your students articles they can read throughout the week. More importantly, you can post updates to class schedules – keep your students in-the-know.

A few other features from the Muve Mag app include a play list of music from local artists, access to current/past editions of the magazine, and a “Nearby Me” feature that shows local restaurants near to the user.

Taken together, Muve Mag has used their app to move from ‘just’ another local magazine to the local magazine.

Summing Up

We’ve gone through 3 examples of small businesses that have thrived with their mobile apps, as well as a few common features your business may be able to make use of.

But you might be thinking: This is all fine and dandy, but I don’t think my business is ‘big’ enough for an app.

You would be right… if you lived 3 years in the past.

App building has become far cheaper over the years, and more small businesses are turning to it than ever before.

Not all businesses are the same, but it doesn’t hurt to think if yours could be better off with a mobile app.

While you’re at it, check out web apps as well. These are apps you can use for your small business, but work on an Internet browser rather than a mobile app that you download.

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