Whatever you need to do today, there’s probably an app for that. Waking up in the morning, counting your steps, ordering breakfast, refilling your toilet paper supply, booking your kids’ carpool … there are apps for all of that, and a lot of them are free. Hence the temptation to clutter your phones with hundreds you’ll never use after you install them.
The lure is even bigger for online business. Every new offering looks crucial and shiny. Plus, free apps are often flooded with ads that slow down your device and use up valuable bandwidth. If you’re already an app hoarder, you may need to Marie Kondo your phone and tablet, getting rid of any app you haven’t used in three months.
But if you’re one of the lucky ones that hasn’t yet picked up the addiction, be careful what you download. That said, apps make online business so much easier, so it helps to have at least a few. Whenever possible, pick an app that covers multiple functions. For example, you definitely need social media. But instead of downloading individual apps, pick a social media manager like Hootsuite that lets you handle all your virtual assets on one screen.
Many platforms have a web option, so use the web-version to sign up, then download an aggregator on your phone. That way, you can use that single app to run your five or six accounts. Plus, on mobile devices, apps run faster than direct web access. They save bandwidth too. Your app selection will depend on your business needs. Facebook is good for groups and targeted ads. Whatsapp works for real-time conversation.
Instagram does well for visual businesses e.g. photography, modelling, product sales. It’s effective for video content, though you can use YouTube and Facebook for similar uploads. Twitter is good for live event updates and immediate feedback #TrendingTopic. You can also experiment with platforms like Pinterest and Telegram to see what’s best for you.
Many beginners overlook the need for a merchant processor. These are companies like PayPal, Charge.com, Skrill, and Bitpay. As an individual, they enable you to shop safely while minimising your exposure to identity theft and card fraud. As a business, they’re the only way your customers can pay you online, so be sure to integrate one to your online store.
Open an account in your business name, so that your buyers feel safer. It will also minimise the risk of charge-back fees due to customers getting confused and cancelling their purchase. Pick a merchant processor with low fees and free add-ons like mobile apps, portable card readers, and free application, as well as high level encryption and PCI compliance.
Check their policy on high-risk business, low credit scores, or prior bankruptcy. Most payment processors avoid these, but some are supportive of all business types, regardless of history or scale. Check their customer listings too, just to be sure they’re genuine. There are millions of apps. Only get the ones that help you get paid, improve your efficiency levels, and reach our customers at will.