Everyone always talks about apps like Uber, but what about apps for small businesses?  Growing your business is a question of expanding your market reach or sales verticals.  Apps like Uber work best for expanding market reach.  One-Stop Shops represent an interesting category of mobile apps for small businesses.   They work by expanding your sales verticals, following in the footsteps of Amazon.  The difference, and where you can beat Amazon, is by expanding on your specialization locally.

Amazon is the best example of a one-stop shop.   It started out selling books, expanded into electronics… and then everything else – with the help of over 2 million third-party sellers.  Amazon picked up over 50% of US Online sales in 2017.  That implies that half of your friends, family and neighbors are buying online from Amazon what they could be buying from you.

One way to beat companies like Amazon and Uber is to offer more relating to what you specialize in – to your local market.   It might be best to provide some examples:

Apps for Small Businesses – Car Dealerships and Car Washes

Let’s say your business involves cars.  A lot of businesses relate to cars, one way or another.  Yet, not all of them compete against each other.

You could also promote:

  • Automotive supply stores
  • Body and paint shops
  • Roadside repair services
  • Car washes
  • Accident lawyers
  • Car insurance
  • Car shows and events
  • Automotive magazines
  • Car rentals
  • Limousine services
  • Theft prevention devices and services

Apps for Small Businesses – Real Estate Agencies and Furniture Stores

You earn commissions selling and leasing real-estate. What else is closely related that could fit in your app?

When someone goes to rent an apartment or buy a house, there’s a good chance that they may need help moving, might want insurance, might want to get new furniture or decoration.  The same idea can be taken further:

  • Home and renters insurance
  • Home security systems
  • Landscaping services
  • Furniture stores
  • Home decorators
  • Plumbers and electricians
  • “Smart Home” devices
  • Apartment rental classifieds
  • Moving services
  • Homemaker magazines

Apps for Small Businesses – Clothing Retailers and Health Clubs

This requires getting a bit more creative – and asking things like, “Why do people wear the clothes they wear?”  Obviously, we can’t speak for everyone.  But, it is not just about the clothes, but their function.  The clothes we buy involve trying to look good for different social settings and special events.

Each clothing store is likely to find its own unique fit.  The idea of a clothing store promoting job fairs, resume services or recruiters in its app?  If you sell lots of business suits, why not?  Odds are pretty good if a customer is buying a business suit, they’d be of some interest to a headhunter who typically gets paid a percentage of their candidate’s yearly salary.

So, the different reasons why we wear certain types of clothes can be associated with related revenue streams, which could include:

  • Concerts, Social Events and Venues
  • Sporting Events and Organizations
  • Restaurants
  • Barbers and Beauticians
  • Spas and Gyms
  • Dieticians and Fitness Instructors
  • Aerobics and Yoga Classes
  • Photographers
  • Tech Wearables
  • Job Fairs and Recruiters
  • Colleges and Continuing Education Programs

A Matter of Cost and Opportunity

Developing a Mobile App involves a significant investment.  Merely being able to invest in a mobile app provides you a major advantage few talk about.  Of the roughly 29 million businesses in the United States, over 90% qualify as Micro Businesses with 1 to 10 employees.  In the majority of cases, they either cannot afford a mobile app or can find a better ROI with other investments.  You can think of this two different ways.

Left brain, thinking logically, says, “Great, that’s less competition for me!”

Right brain, thinking creatively, says, “Great, that opens up thousands of opportunities for all of us!”

This brings us back to the True Competitive Edge of On-Demand Apps.  Amazon, Uber and Airbnb  make it pretty easy for others to participate in their business.  You could be the one to lead to lead your local mobile market or bring several businesses together into a joint venture.  If you finance the app yourself, you are in a position to define your own program.  You can then approach other businesses with options to participate in your app.  This can run a lot like Amazon.com’s affiliate and third-party seller programs or driving for Uber.

Joint ventures involving two or more parties do add complexity.  Most of these complexities can be addressed via contractual agreements, creation of a special purpose vehicle, or in some cases with a public-private partnership.  All of the varied kinds of business structures that existed before mobile still exist and in many cases work even better with the help of mobile technology.

You have options.   Tech these days seems to be driven by super-sized ambition backed by super-sized budgets to dominate the markets.  For years, retailers have struggled to compete against Walmart.  Today, Walmart is struggling to compete against Amazon.  Both benefit from having a huge economy of scale.

Not everyone wants to be the next Amazon.com or Uber.  To better compete with the big boys, it can be a huge help to develop an economy of scale of your own.  There’s no better place to get that than on your home turf, collaborating with other local businesses for mutual benefit.  All mobile apps, even apps for small businesses, make it possible to sell anything to anyone, anywhere.   One-Stop Shops don’t imply that you need to be an Amazon.com or try to sell everything.  They open the door to being able to offer a lot more to your customers — but they can also be used to open the door for other small businesses unable to afford a mobile app of their own.

Hopefully, this will inspire you into some creative thinking.  If you’d like to chat about an idea that you have for your small business, please feel free to contact us or hit me up on Twitter.

More Recommended Reading for On-Demand Apps and Economy:

Mark Dabbs

Expert contributor

Mark Dabbs is an expert contributor and consultant for Reinvently. His passion is helping businesses make better use of mobile technology.

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