The boom in mobile commerce drives the need for more business apps

By @chelean on
mobile apps
A 3D plastic representation of the Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed logos of social networks in this illustration in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina May 13, 2015. Reuters/Dado Ruvic

Business apps are rising, and so is mobile commerce, which is competing with desk-bound e-commerce as the way to buy, sell, and transact payments online.

According to Internet Retailer, sales made through smart phones and other mobile devices rose by 38.7 percent last year, from US$75.03 billion (AU$97.94 billion) in 2014 to US$104.05 billion (AU$136 billion) in 2015. This is supported by the 2014 Comscore reports that 60 percent of digital media users spend more time with their mobile platforms than their desktops. More importantly, the use of mobile apps constitutes 51 percent of all digital activity.

Forbes writer John Koetsier notes that business apps have been enjoying a surge the past few years. Business apps pertain to a wide range of services, from companies pushing a product or a service, content aggregators that post business and news updates, to more functional that can be of great help in the office. Out of 96,000 apps published last year, 11,000 business apps were at the forefront in January. Game apps still rule at number one, but their number has been decreasing. In contrast, business apps, which were not even on the radar in 2010, have been climbing steadily to #3 and #2 in the rankings since 2012.

Koetsier believes that the trend is happening partly because smartphone owners are now becoming more confident about using apps at home, work, and whatever sphere of life they are busy in, at the moment. In short, they are becoming more comfortable using the apps.

The same situation happened with game apps years ago. MightySignal CEO Shane Wey described the behavioural shift, “ The quality of business apps is where consumer apps were two years ago, still figuring out the unique value proposition. Again, you’re dealing with smaller screens, but customers having it with them all the time … business apps should take advantage of being able to notify their customers of critical things, like servers going down, or important paperwork being signed.”

Business 2 Community predicts that the need for business apps will accelerate as millennial customers use them as the platform of choice to shop instead of the traditional search being done on the Web.  It cites the case of Yihaodian, China’s largest online store. In the good old days of e-commerce, a customer will surf its website, do a search on the category of products, and put their selected groceries on the shopping cart. These days, Yihaodian creates an experience for the customers through its business app; they can stroll through a virtual supermarket, tap on the smartphone screens to make their choices, and then have the items delivered to their homes. It is experiences like these that have made industry insiders project a US$200 billion (AU$261 billion) revenue by next year from millennial smartphone users doing their virtual shopping through their business apps.

“Millennial customers are informed shoppers who weigh things before they shop or invest,” said Dom Einhorn, founder of finance and business news app Born2Invest. “It’s not just a matter of clicking on the app of a company, but seeing the value of what that company can offer them. They are hungry for information and keep themselves updated on the latest business trends, the smartest deals, and the hottest stocks. They want value for their money and business apps like ours provide the right kind of information to them.”

On any given day, millions of Born2Invest app users click on it to find updated, relevant data on the status of companies they would like to deal with or buy products from. The range is global, as every region in the planet is covered by dozens of journalists who file reports from the United States and Canada, Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East on real-time.

Business apps will soon become a fixture of the cell device screen, and their users will click on them with the same ease that they now turn to game apps every time they need a break. Game apps are still the undisputed king of the app world, but given the 80 percent increase of business apps year-in, year-out, they just might themselves facing stiffer competition in the near future.