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Take a look at your phone. How many apps have you got installed on there. And now, consider how many of those apps you have used in the last 7 days. Or even the last month. Most people have no more than 5 or 6 apps that they use regularly. With that in mind, should your business get an app?

For most businesses, getting your own app is an utter waste of time and money. But there are a few exceptions to this where a business could benefit from having their own app with specific functions.

When we just took a look at our respective phones a minute ago, chances are that we both noticed just how many apps were sitting on our phones that weren’t being used. At one stage we downloaded them, perhaps used them once or twice and then they were relegated to the second or third home screen where they got forgotten until now. That’s the story of most smartphone apps. The vast majority of us tend to use just a few apps. Maybe Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, the bus or train timetable app, the weather app and maybe a music or streaming video one. For most of us there’s under 10 apps that we’d use in any 30 day period. Based on that alone, you’d think that there is no point bothering with making an app about your business. But what if your app was about buying products from you that could be delivered?

The problem with the modern internet, when it comes to retail a buying stuff online, is that the market is cornered by just a few major retail names like Amazon, eBay and Wish. And then there might be a few others like The Iconic or Showpo where you may buy a dress here or there. And then there are literally tens of thousands of smaller retailers that might get a sale or two from you over a lifetime. You might have come across them as an on Instagram, or from something that someone shared on Facebook or Pinterest. And that transaction you completed on those sites was likely to have been on their website, not their mobile app (if they even had one.) That’s because no one likes to clutter up their phone screen with even more apps that they’ll use one and never use again. Yet, small businesses keep coming up with reasons for why the world needs their app idea… and that app idea is generally just to put an app on someone’s phone that lets people buy what they sell in their shopfront. Usually at the same price as they would sell it in their shopfront. And this is where we find the problem. There is an almost certain chance that everything you sell can be found somewhere else online for a much cheaper price, in a greater variety of colours, sizes, variations and options, and it may even be able to be delivered to a customer in a day or two. That’s because online retails like Amazon can afford to sell many items at a loss. eBay introduces local shoppers to offshore distributors and retailers who have enough volume to buy what you sell for less than half of what you pay. The internet will run rings around you if all you’re trying to do is replicate your offline business in to an online one.

There are very few examples of new app ideas that will take off Even fewer that do something that another app already does. When it’s an app based around retail selling, you’re moving in to a realm where you have a 10,000,000:1 chance of it succeeding. After all there’s already another 150,000,000 small businesses on our planet. And there are only so many that will work at enough scale to turn a new app in to a hit. And it isn’t just luck and a great idea that takes an app and turns it in to a household name. It takes marketing money. A lot of it. You don’t get to the top of the App Store hit list because you’re a nice person. You get there by paying your there. Either by paying Apple, or by paying for a lot of advertising on social media, Google and other places. And we’re talking millions of dollars of marketing. Not a couple of $25 boosts on Facebook. Confirm: There is very little chance that your app will succeed. Almost all the great app ideas have been built, grown and succeeded ahead of yours. And if you were planning to build a retail app that brings nothing new to the table apart from your particular range of widgets, rags and potions, then you’re throwing money in a fire. You’re far better off throwing that money at a Shopify website, a solid, ongoing Facebook and Instagram ad campaign and maybe even on fitting out some influencers in your stuff so you can be seen by those who do have influence over other shoppers. The app war has been won. Small business isn’t where innovation will occur on the smartphone because the cost of scaling apps up to being a hit is way out of the range of what we are able to spend.

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