Mobile Apps Streamline Your Customers’ Experience
People in the United States are on-the-go. They are not content to remain “plugged in” when using the Internet. Consumers with smart phones, and other mobile devices, use them, rather than PCs or laptops, to perform more than half of their Internet searches, according to the Pew Research Center (www.pewinternet.org). Thirty-four percent of mobile Internet users go online mostly through their phones. The same holds true for our own site, www.partslocator.com. Nearly 50 percent of our sites December 2013 visits were performed on mobile devices, i.e. tablets and smart phones. That’s why our site has mobile capabilities and is currently being updated to perform even better on mobile devices. But businesses can go even further to reach these mobile users.
A mobile app is a great way to engage those mobile users. According to comScore data, app usage dominates browsers in mobile usage 80 percent of the time. Mobile apps allow you to quickly engage your customers, offer great customer service (like providing a platform for feedback), allow for promotions and sell your products or services online, i.e. allow users to search your inventory.
Mobile apps for the auto industry are becoming increasing popular. A quick iTunes search for auto parts shows more than 150 apps. But apps for used or recycled auto parts are much fewer.
GetUsedParts, an online parts locating service (www.getusedparts.com), is one of a just a few companies in this industry that created a mobile app. Its app allows any user to search the inventories of its used auto parts suppliers. The app streamlines the process of typing in a year, make and model for the part wanted without having to access the company’s website. RueDee Caruso, director of operations, said the app is downloaded an average of 100-times a day, and that number grows steadily.
“Currently, part searches done on mobile apps count for around 35 percent of our part searches, leaving the remaining 65 percent via web,” she said. “This number continues to grow as more people are using their smart phones to shop.”
Mobile apps can either be designed in-house or by an outside company. GetUsedParts.com has the internal capabilities to create its own app, which is downloadable for free for both Apple and Android devices. The in-house development team created the app as part of the company’s mobile applications, which includes its mobile site (a must for a mobile app) and branded mobile sites for its auto recycling customers. If your company doesn’t have an in-house designer that can handle mobile app development, there are many software companies and freelance developers that specialize in high-quality apps. Also, check with your website creator as it may create apps as well. Take into consideration that the developer will have to stay on top of all updates for the app, which will continue indefinitely.
“We are aggressive when keeping our apps up to date and error free. We launch new updates to our apps every one to two months,” explained Caruso. “On top of our own updates, there are several that we’re forced to account for such as when Apple releases a new iOS. We are registered with Google Play and Apple as developers so we get their beta operating platforms early so that we may make adjustments to our apps before the new update is available to the public. This way, our apps are constantly up to date as new operating systems are introduced.”
Apps are not going away any time soon, so long as users want information in the quickest and most efficient way possible. Consider creating one for your facility or business. It could pay off in the end.
“When first launching a mobile app, it may be slow at first to take off, but the more it is downloaded, the more frequent it will appear in searches,” Caruso said. “Take for example, if you type ‘used auto part’ or ‘used part’ in the Apple App Store, our app will display first due to its frequent downloads. We launched our Android app several months later, however, and it is quickly gaining speed.”