Covid-19 Changed How Small Businesses Use Mobile App Technology

November 08, 2022

By: John Tomblin, Senior Solutions Architect
Scottsdale Bizz, a division of Sofvue, LLC
Printed with permission of Data Titan, Sofvue LLC, and the author

Over 8,000 mobile apps are launched every single day, 365 days a year, and if you demand some evidence to confirm this claim, look at the mobile app in your hand, count the number of mobile apps you have downloaded and multiply it by at least 300,000,000, the number of people in the US who own a mobile phone.

Throughout the pandemic, roughly from March 2020 through about the same time in 2022, many small businesses shuttered. Some survived, many closed and others had to begin examining how to shift to a new “post-pandemic” marketplace. Even as early as July 2020, we began receiving calls from small business owners wanting to talk about how they could automate more, convert to a remote workforce, and how create seamless transactions and work duties without people having to interact with one another. For some small business owners, the desire was driven by pure panic, for others, it was a serious wakeup call in realizing that the marketplace was shifting to something new, even though no one understood what “new” meant.

And with mobile commerce (m-Commerce) accounting for almost three-fourths (72.9%) of all e-Commerce sales, leveraging mobile technology had become more important than ever. So, for the millions of small businesses that survived the pandemic, many have begun the process of identifying how to best leverage mobile app technology. Let’s look at five concepts, as they relate to smart apps, you should consider when deciding to create a mobile app for your business.

1. Marketing

Mobile marketing gives small businesses access to customers who might otherwise be difficult to reach. For example, geofencing technology allows businesses to market products or services only within a specific geographic area. With the continued explosive growth of smartphones and tablets by consumers, it’s become even easier for local businesses to reach consumers and customers in their area, and in a much more cost-effective way than in the past.

Here are a few ways small businesses use mobile technology for marketing:

✅ Social media advertising

✅ Encouraging users to download their mobile app to place orders

✅ Text messaging marketing campaigns that send automated messages

✅ Push notifications to inform users of the latest offers and new products directly to their phones.

Another benefit is increased brand awareness among people who would otherwise not know about your product offerings—for example, through location-based advertising, such as having ads pop up when users pass by billboards with QR codes displayed next to them.

2. Mobile Point of Sale (POS) Systems

Mobile point of sale (POS) systems are used by small businesses to process credit card and mobile payments. The POS system can be accessed directly from a tablet or smartphone, enabling merchants to accept credit cards and other forms of payment quickly and easily.

The technology allows merchants to process payments in person and remotely. For instance, if you own a food truck that travels around town selling tacos at local sporting or entertainment events or the local high school football game, your customers must be able to pay directly from their mobile devices. Services like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Cash App allow m-commerce to happen, all without the use of physical cash.

We’ve even begun seeing mobile POS systems that eliminate cashiers and cash registers, with a single person at a small kiosk using a smartphone to verify items a customer has in their shopping cart or hands, and process the transactions mobile-to-mobile, with no cashier or cash drawer.

3. Customer Service

Customer service is one of the most important aspects of running a business. As a small business, you can't afford to have unhappy customers, so many small business owners are giving serious consideration to adopting mobile app technology to improve their relationship with customers.

As a small business owner, you or your employees can respond to inquiries over chat or even text messaging inside your store, or online. You could even use video chat if your customer wants help with something complex that would be easier explained face-to-face than over email or phone calls. This type of communication is also great for resolving issues quickly so that both you and your customer are satisfied with the outcome of the interaction.

4. Inventory Management

Inventory is the lifeblood of a business, whether online, in-store, or sitting at a nearby warehouse or a hub waiting for shipment, and with Amazon having created the same-day or next-day delivery model, consumers have latched onto the concept and now believe this should be the norm for all business transactions… even for small businesses.

To help ensure that your customers are getting their orders quickly and correctly, inventory management is going mainstream, with mobile apps leading the way. We are currently working on one project that, using Wi-Fi, allows personnel to walk through an inventory warehouse (with about 15,000 square feet) and using RFID and Wi-Fi communications, receive direct notifications or nearby items that are running low on inventory. We are working on another system that not only provides notifications of low inventory levels but using some very sophisticated algorithms, automatically places replacement orders with no human interaction.  It’s all done automatically.

5. Payroll and Accounting

Payroll and accounting are key functions for any small business. Fortunately, mobile technology has made it possible to provide many of these services remotely using APIs and other technologies that automate virtually all AR/AP.

A custom-developed app can help you automate the payroll process, freeing up your time to focus on business ops and sales while allowing the automated system to automatically collect payroll information from your employees using a time-clock management system allowing employees to clock in, whether they come to the office, work remotely or are in the field selling services or maintenance. We even designed a system that using cell tower triangulation and satellite technology, verifies, within approximately ¼ of a mile distance, and in real-time, the location of the employee when they clocked in, and at the end of the day, when they clocked out. No more fudging on start and end times.

Final Thoughts

In today’s fast-paced world, many small businesses must use mobile technology to stay relevant and competitive. Yes, some small businesses don’t need this type of technology, but for many e-Commerce and m-Commerce businesses, and even some D2c businesses, payroll, and accounting apps to inventory management solutions and POS systems, can truly help automate, and grow your customer base, improve your brand, strengthen loyalty among your company personnel and management, and most importantly, increase profitability.

If anything good came from the pandemic, it is likely the realization by many small business owners that mobile technology, when applied correctly, can greatly improve business operations, customer service, employee retention, and in many cases, profitability. At Scottsdale Bizz, we help small businesses leverage the latest technologies to increase revenue and scale their business faster.

ScottsdaleBizz has been designing and developing mobile and web-based application systems since 2004. To date, we have designed and developed over $22MM in solutions for companies coast-to-coast, and across numerous business segments. Give us a call at 623-845-2747 to learn more about our recently completed projects, read recent letters of recommendation, and discuss how we can serve both your project and your company goals.

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