Is your business ready for an App?

A few weeks ago, Kathy and I attended the Bozzuto's Independent Retailer Conference with two of our employees, Megan and Jeff, to discuss iOrder, our iPhone app. At the invitation of Bozzuto's, we had a small booth space down “technology row" as we liked to call it, to demo iOrder on both my iPhone and iPad.

Reception to iOrder was terrific, overall. Many folks who stopped by were very interested and as no one is really marketing apps to the retailers in this space, smaller-sized independent grocery chains, it was a great opportunity for us to showcase what iOrder can do and what an iPhone app could mean for their stores.

Many of our booth visitors however worried about the level of technology required to run the app, mainly an iPhone, while others worried that their current customer base would not be so eager to adopt this sort of technology. Let's take a look at these concerns, as they are definitely valid.

It's true that the iPhone, while seemingly ubiquitous, only has about 25% of the Smartphone market share in the United States. So, while it may seem like everyone has one, the truth is, they don't. Concentrations are definitely higher in densely populated urban areas as well as among a slightly younger demographic, than other Smartphones, like Blackberry, which cater to an audience of 40+. Before investing in any technology, especially mobile, it is important to take stock of your location. A few small stores in rural Mississippi probably wouldn't have use for this because their main customer base more than likely doesn't have an iPhone. However, a corner market in a suburb of New York City or Los Angeles could greatly benefit from the exposure and functionality of an app like iOrder.

As far as adoption goes, it's true that different people have widely different views on technology. While it's easy to generalize and say that older adults don't use technology and young adults and 30-somethings do, that's doing a disservice to your customer base. The truth is, a 50-year-old grandmother is just as likely to have an iPhone to stay in touch with her newest grandchild, as a 20-something who relies on the technology for GPS and game-playing.

Whether your customers will embrace an iPhone app depends on a two things—one that's out of your control and one that's not.

  1. Is the app easy to use and useful?

  2. Are you as excited or more excited about introducing this kind of technology than we are?

That's our job, to make sure the app we've programmed is one that your clients will want to use. If these issues are the only things holding you back from adopting new technology like an iPhone app, there's only one thing to do—go to the source. In the case of iOrder, that would be deli customers. Next time you're walking the store, go visit your deli counter and ask a few customers if they'd use an app that allowed them to skip waiting in line. Or even, ask them something far simpler: Do you have an iPhone?

With the recent introduction of iPhone to Verizon Wireless, the United States' largest wireless provider, the chance that iPhone will gain a greater piece of the Smartphone market is good. Wouldn't it be great if you and your stores were ahead of the curve with a fully-branded iPhone app available in Apple's App Store? Personally, I'm a big fan of the “front" of the curve. Even better, I like to lead the way. I'll bet you do to.

Until my next post, take care and prosper,


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