The economic picture that has emerged after the lifting of the restrictions on the coronavirus is not very encouraging. There are companies that are not even going to reopen.
These difficulties do not only apply to small entrepreneurs who have been caught up in a temporary cash flow crisis; there are also, for example, international airlines that were already in a delicate situation before the pandemic and have been drowning in debt due to the impossibility of moving their planes.
At the small business level, there are thousands of businesses that are in a similar situation. This is not only a question of travel agencies but also affects many small businesses that are now considering whether to reopen because their business niche is still restricted or because their clients or the area in which they offer their services or products are in serious economic trouble which, although they had surely been developing for years, have appeared with this crisis.
Even many of the brave ones who have already reopened their businesses have found that the attitude of the customers is different and it seems more difficult to return to have a worthy benefit for the work done (these are not times to think about getting rich).
The recipe for a return to profitability is as easy to state as it is difficult to put into practice: increase profit by reducing costs and expanding sales.
This article is about one of the solutions offered on all websites to any business to increase its sales: creating a website or an app. Is it really the panacea and will having an app allow us to get the business up and running again? The answer is the same as all the important questions: it depends.
It depends on many factors: the product or service being sold, the training of the employees (if any), the possibility of selling further or in greater quantities, the receptivity of the clientele… there are as many answers as there are businesses and, of course, it will be only one more point in the long task list every business owner should start right now: no one will be saved by an app, but it may help.
When is it NOT worth it?
First of all, we must not forget that when talking about websites or applications, not only must we count the initial cost, but they have maintenance and updating costs that we will have to include in the balance sheet when determining whether it is profitable to maintain them.
Probably it is not worth the effort to have all our customers register on our website or install our application if our business only works in one neighbourhood. In this particular case it would not work because it would always be much easier for our customers to check our new prices or services directly in the window of our shop.
It would also not be negligible to think that customers would not be particularly interested in using applications or websites when they can check for themselves whether our offer is suited to their needs.
Take a neighbourhood bakery, for example. It would probably be much more profitable for it to create a Twitter account to let potential customers know that the latest batch has just come out. This way you could have, from the baker’s own mobile phone, an immediate communication with your potential customers without incurring the management, creation and maintenance costs that an application or a website implies.
Even, taking into account that nowadays everybody uses the Internet to find the contact phone number of any business in the neighborhood, with a little effort, anyone can create a few profiles in social networks and free directories to include their phone number and address without having the domain/hosting/development/maintenance of a website.
When is it YES worth it?
Having a website or having an application is going to be a must for companies that have no geographical restrictions and that want or can sell their products or services all over the country or why not? all over the world.
It is also essential for professionals who need a virtual business card to make themselves known in their professional environment or to access their clients in medium or large cities.
In other words, the website is essential, even if it is only a virtual business card. (While it may seem impossible to many technology-related people, there are millions of small businesses today that do not have a website or use social networks; having a website is not something to be taken for granted.)
However, considering having an application, apart from being something very cool, it has to start from a fairly rigorous analysis of what we want to do with the application, which customers we want to reach, what we want customers to do, what we want to do through the application to facilitate business with customers and a lot of other factors that will need to be analyzed carefully with the analyst of the developer company.
Let’s think, for example, of a painting company. They probably already have a website but have not managed to sell anything through it because they may not have found a formula to sell online. An application, on the other hand, could allow them not only to have their catalogue available in the app but it could include a section to contact live the company’s commercials, or it could include a section for making paints with personalized colours taking as a sample a photograph sent by the client, or it could include a section with a directory of painters from different areas of the country, so that not only the final clients but also the painters are interested in the app, who, in turn, can also become clients/distributors.
As you can see, there is not a single solution or a global answer that responds to all the problems of all companies. To know if it is necessary to spend a little, or a lot, in the development of a web page or an application it will be necessary to sit down next to a consultant to see what business possibilities the new tool is going to offer us and, valuing the present and future cost. calculate the income what we can obtain with our new toy. So simple …