Why SMBs Need Mobile apps - the complete guide

Deciding if your business needs an app? We explain why you might need an app, the benefits it brings, how to make an app for your small business and how to promote it.

Greig Robertson

Digital Content Lead
· 9 minute read
Salon app design

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Are you thinking about how an app could help your business grow? In this article, we’ll look at why small businesses might need an app, how to build a mobile app and how to get people using your app. The article includes actionable steps you can take to develop your business.

Apps are the future

Statista estimates that in 2021 there are now slightly more than 7 billion mobile users worldwide. They also stress this number has huge potential to grow as large countries like China and India have less than 70% adoption

There are lots of mobile users but what are they doing on their devices? They’re using their devices to do the things we used to use a computer for. Hootsuite found that almost 70% of people used a shopping app on a mobile device. They also found that 98.8% of social media users access via mobile.

Salon app building illustration with Builder Studio

Mobile users represent a massive market that continues to grow every year. WARC estimates that three-quarters of global internet users will be mobile-only by 2025. This is huge! If your business isn’t positioned to take advantage of this growth you’re missing out on potential business.

Do I need a mobile app for my business?

Those statistics paint a very convincing picture of the importance of targeting mobile. Let’s look specifically at how your business can benefit from an app. 

#1 Make it easy for customers to find you

You probably shop at one of your local supermarkets rather than travel for hours to one that’s further away. The same principle applies to having your own app. Don’t expect your customers to go out of their way to find you. If people are predominantly using their mobile device for online activities, that’s where you want to be. Meet your customers where they are.

#2 Brand loyalty

Having your own app is fantastic for building brand loyalty. Think about the typical shopping experience on one of the big marketplaces; they’re usually driven by search. Consumers know the product they want but don’t care about the brand. They’ll pick a product that has a good balance between price and positive reviews.

If you’re lucky, they might pick your product. However, that means nothing for the next purchase they make. They’ll repeat the search-driven process to find what they’re looking for. This time they might buy something from your competitor.

Your own app stops this. Once they have your app, they will return to your store when looking for the products you sell. Your competitors won’t show up beside your listing - so they won’t be able to pinch your sales. Furthermore, your app’s icon will be on your customers home screen. Every time they see your logo you’re cementing your position as the go-to solution.

#3 Data and personalisation

We all love it when people make us feel special. It doesn’t take much; it can be something as simple as using your name or remembering your birthday. It’s easy to collect this data when using an app. 

Not only that but you can even access their location history, contact list and much more. For whatever reason, people are happier sharing this data with apps than websites.

If you’re willing to get a little geeky, there’s loads of analysis you can do on this data to find areas of improvement.

You can also use this to deliver a personalised experience for each customer. This could be birthday discounts or geofenced push notifications.

“Hey Craig, fancy a coffee on us?”

Data is a game-changer when it comes to optimising your business. Analysis and personalised promotions let you earn more money.

How to make an app for my small business?

Your app screens during the development phase

You’ve decided that your small business needs a mobile app. Before thinking about the technical side, we need to consider exactly what we want the app to do.

What are the must-have features for your business app? The answer is going to vary depending on your business. We’ll focus this article on one of the biggest use cases: ecommerce. Some of these features will probably apply to your app idea too.

Smooth shopping experience

An ecommerce app needs to make it easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for. This means an intuitive design that lets your customers navigate through your app the way they’re used to. You also need a beautiful way of showcasing your products - a carousel works well for this.

Payment processing

Your customers need to be able to pay for the goods they’ve purchased. If the process isn’t simple and straightforward they’ll find someone else to purchase from. This means your app needs to allow payments with the methods customers have come to expect. It’s also important that customers feel their financial details are secure. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel - integrate trusted payment providers.

Social features

We touched on this earlier. There are loads of features you can include:

  • Push notifications to share a custom promotion.
  • Share features so customers can rave about your product.
  • In-app chat so you can respond to customer feedback in real-time.

That’s in no way an exhaustive list. You’ll also need to think about delivery, account management, stock management and much more. Whatever your business, it’s important to think through the features your app needs before you begin building anything.

Mobile app development for small business 

Now that you’ve thought about the features your app needs, it’s time to build your app. This is where things can get a little technical. There are several options available. If you want to learn more about the range of options you might enjoy this article on converting your website to an app.

We’re going to focus on how you can build an app with us. We truly believe it’s the easiest way to make your business app come to life. Our goal is to handle the technical side so that you’re free to grow your business.

We recommend most people look at our Studio Store apps. These are prepackaged apps that come with all the features required for a particular business; salon, spa and restaurant apps to name a few.  You get an Android app and an iOS app that can be listed in the Play Store and App Store respectively. All the prices and delivery times are clear and upfront - no hidden surprises.

We have to give a special mention to our free ecommerce app. It’s got all the features we discussed earlier and gives you 50 free transactions each month. This is a great way to see if the app is a fit for your business! If not, it hasn’t cost you anything.

If none of those apps are what you’re looking for, then head over to Builder Studio. This is where we bring any app idea to life. One of the great things about our method is that we have lots of lego-like blocks already built. Our human-assisted AI can use these to quickly create bespoke apps with complex features. It also means we can give you a very accurate quote. Unlike some of our competitors: the price we say is the price you pay!

How to grow my business with an app?

Once you’ve got your app, what’s next? You need to get customers using your app! Let’s look at some different ways you can achieve this.

Google My Business

If you’re not already doing this - and your business meets the basic requirements - you’re in for a treat. Google My Business is one of the easiest promotional tools to get started with. All you do is prove ownership of your business and then create a business profile.

Once that’s done you’ll pop up near the top of the search engine results page within the Google business listings. Customers get easy access to some basic information about your business. This includes links to your website or apps.

The more information you share in your business profile the more relevant leads Google will send your way. It’s a win-win situation. Google provides a more accurate service to their users and you get customers that are likely to buy.

Although Google My Business offers some basic app-like features, we’d still advise most businesses get their own app. All the reasons we discussed earlier still apply: you’re displayed beside your competitors and don’t have access to customer data when using Google My Business. Use it as a method of funnelling additional traffic to your apps and website.


If you want to get a lot of visibility quickly then ads are a great idea. Every major platform has its own ad program: Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, TikTok and Reddit for example. Your target market will dictate which platform will provide the most benefit.

A few important things to remember when running ads:

  • Segment - use the tools provided so you only show your ads to relevant audiences.
  • Communicate clearly - the goal isn’t to get lots of people to your site, it’s to get customers who want what you’re selling. Make sure your ad communicates your offer.
  • Set a budget - avoid surprises by setting a daily limit or a maximum spend.

In-app promos and brand loyalty

You can use your app as its own promotional tool! One possibility is to offer your current customers a discount if they order through your app. You could also run a refer-a-friend scheme to get your existing customers to promote your app for you.

A long-term approach is sharing useful content with your followers on social media. If you provide real value, it’s likely to be shared and result in new followers and customers.

Final thoughts

We’ve established that you need an app. Every day more people use a mobile device as their primary method of accessing the internet. The app you create should be made with your customers in mind - what features will they benefit most from?

Remove the technical barriers and stress from your app development by working with us. Our Studio Store has the perfect app for most businesses. Once your app is set up you need to get your customers using it. Make use of the promotional methods discussed earlier. 

Congratulations! You’re now ready to grow your business.


#1 What is the easiest way to create an app?

Our Studio Store apps are prepackaged and need no technical skills to set up. They deliver all the features you need to grow your business. We provide hosting and help get you set up in the app markets. Oh, and we pride ourselves on accurate pricing and quick turnaround times!

#2 Why do small businesses need a mobile app?

You’ll make more sales. Every year more people are using a mobile phone as their primary method of accessing the internet. Your own app turns all these users into potential customers. It then limits the exposure your customers have to competitors and makes it easy to offer targeted promotions.

#3 What are the must-have features of a business app?

The exact features are going to vary depending on your business. Some general features that most business apps will need are a smooth shopping experience, payment processing and social features.

#4 Can I convert my mobile website into an app?

Yes, there are several ways you can do this. However, lots of the potential solutions are less than optimal. If your goal is a fast, bug-free app that works as users expect, then we recommend working with us or one of the other large app development companies.

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Greig Robertson

Digital Content Lead

Greig is the Digital Content Lead at Builder.ai and a University of Bristol History grad. He has 5+ years’ experience in B2B SaaS, creating data-driven, human-friendly content for high-growth tech startups. When Greig needs a dopamine hit, he checks Builder.ai’s keyword rankings.

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