Nowadays, most B2C small businesses are still wondering whether they should go mobile or not: costs may be huge, while ROI remains uncertain.
According to the Insee (the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies), in 2013 two companies out of three in France had a website (that’s about two million websites), but how many of these are online stores? Let me tell you, less than 10% (138,000, according to a 2014 study by the Fevad Federation e-commerce et vente à distance).
We don’t need to worry about medium to big B2C companies, most of them have already understood the implications of digital in today’s economy and have taken the necessary steps in the right direction. But what about small businesses?
Some sectors have widely adopted mobile strategies using geolocation functionalities to attract new clients: hotels have been the first to see the potential of these mobile features. Several mobile apps let mobile users search and make a reservation at a nearby hotel while on the go (Very Last Room, Hotel Tonight, Very Chic). The same applies to restaurants: Allo resto, Resto-in, Rest’Oh! are just a few of many apps already available. And these are only the multi-brand apps. Then again, large companies have created their own brand mobile app to win and retain customers.
But let’s take a look at other types of small businesses: such as bakeries, delis, butchers or hair-dressers. How long will it take for their direct competitors (the bakery down the street, the hair-dresser around the corner) to get advantage of the new technologies (mobile apps, geolocation, push-notifications) to attract more customers?
Well, guess what?, they are already doing it: websites like ecoregion list local stores per region, mobile applications like Pages Jaunes (French yellow pages), C’est ici or even Apple Maps now pinpoint information of shops and businesses around the user’s current position. Some of these apps already offer the possibility for small businesses to push-notifications, propose offers by SMS or display mobile ads to get more visibility. Still, these features are not widely embraced by small businesses because:
- the high advertising costs involved
- the mobile usage in France has not reached the necessary maturity
Nevertheless, both obstacles may disappear in the next few years.
- Even after a recent rise on mobile advertising costs, they are lower than classical display advertising costs and, with new players entering the arena, it’s more than probable that mobile advertising costs remain stable or even decrease.
- Mobile use is changing rapidly. If you are reading this post while commuting, take a look around you: over half of the passengers will have their eyes riveted to their smartphones’ screens, others will be listening to their pods and a few will be reading a book they most probably purchased online. More than 80% of these mobile users access the internet daily. Also, 80% of location searches on Google are made through mobile. Finally, 23% of French internet users made location searches using mapping services or GPS.
People (and to make this perfectly clear, we are talking of potential customers) are more and more connected, all the time, everywhere.
The question for small businesses is no longer whether to adopt a mobile strategy or not. If they want to stay in business, there is only one option left: move forward.
 Internet users over 15 years old – Médiamétrie 2015
 Consumer barometer with Google 2014
 Usage d’Internet par les sociétés en 2013 : un recours minoritaire aux médias sociaux – Survey INSEE
 Chiffres clés 2014 – Fédération e-commerce et vente à distance (FEVAD)