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Think Mobile and the SME

Today on Down to Business with Ian Guider, we looked at how SME owners can get their business, their brand and their products on to the smart-phones and tablets of the 40% of consumers who are using the web on the go. We were also joined by Alex Fegan from Tempster, a smart Irish start-up company who created an App to let restaurants and bars  earn revenue from unsold and cancelled tables – or when things are just a little slow. Think LastMinute.com – but for a table at the restaurant just up the street.

“The difference between the ‘full’ version and the mobile version of a website is brilliantly illustrated by John Lewis; the legendary department store have done a remarkable job of adding mobile optimised e-commerce to their traditional business, embracing the concept of multi-channel retailing – compare m.johnlewis.com and www.johnlewis.com to see how the mobile optimised website should be done.”

Make your website mobile friendly – optimise for mobile
The simplest way to get your brand on to consumers smartphones is to make sure that your website looks good on a mobile device. So, try it out.  Have you checked how your site looks using an iPad and an Android device? The most likely issue that business owners immediately notice is that their existing website looks over-crowded. We all have a tendency to cram as much product info, offers and prose as we can into our websites – so that’s where you can make your first improvement.  Lay your mobile-optimised website out using plenty of white space with very obvious links like – Contact – Map – Opening Hours – Specials and no more than a  couple of other key headings.

The mobile user wants to tap the screen and get the right page – so don’t overcrowd the layout with links too close together or too small. One or two taps of the screen are all you have with a new customer, so make sure you can show them what they need, quickly. If you use a service like SquareSpace, these more advanced website creators automatically optimise for mobile – and do a really good job of it.

If you created your own website with a designer and if you have the budget,  get your web-designer to create an m-version of your site, so when visitors come to your website using a smartphone, they will be redirected to a cleaner, more lightweight version. They’ll see what they want quicker, and it creates a nice professional image of your business – you’re mobile ready. The difference between the ‘full’ version and the mobile version of a website is brilliantly illustrated by John Lewis; the legendary department store have done a remarkable job of adding mobile optimised e-commerce to their traditional business, embracing the concept of multi-channel retailing – compare m.johnlewis.com and www.johnlewis.com to see how the mobile optimised website should be done.

Creating an app for your business
If you want to go a step further  you can try out a service like DudaMobile.com which creates a very slick mobile version of your website – with updates happening on your mobile website as you make them on your regular website.

If you want to go the whole hog – and create an app, but dont want to look at a full custom app project – which is not cheap,  we mentioned an incredible website called AppMakr. After you enter your website address AppMakr goes off and grabs images and content from your website and starts building an App for iPhone, Android or WIndows Phone…while you watch. Both of these websites offer free versions – but they do charge for full versions, in the case of AppMakr up to $70 a month, cheaper than a custom App project, but still another monthly fee to pay.

Is a custom App right for you? Probably not.

Well, probably not. I spoke with Dermot Daly the CEO and founder of Tapadoo, one of our indigenous App development companies and he told me that most companies commissioning custom Apps are larger businesses engaged in branding exercises, but the SMEs who commission Apps do so to transact – so less focus on branding and more on getting customers buying.

So SMEs are thinking more about mobile – but mobile-optimised websites appear to be the most used route to getting SME businesses on to people’s smart=phones. This will no doubt change over the next 12 months, as we see another 190 million devices sold globally, but for now, whichever route you choose, it’s imperative that you Think Mobile, because the consumer most certainly is.

External links & references

  1. 9 tips to go mobile
  2. Tips from PayPal for mobile
  3. Tempster @ iTunes store
  4. AppMaker : DIY mobile Apps 
  5. DudaMobile : Optimise your website
  6. Tapadoo : App development 
  7. Sremium: mobile payments

Written by

Andy O'Donoghue talks about technology, some say, too much.

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