Oct 01 2020

Apps are becoming increasingly popular - and more effective

Apps have been booming since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. More and more people are downloading the small user-friendly apps onto their smartphones and tablets. We show you what opportunities this trend offers furniture companies.

The pandemic in early 2020 marked the beginning of a period of precautionary demarcation, of analogue isolation, which led to rapidly growing digitisation in companies, educational institutions and private households.  

Smartphones and tablets became important everyday companions at the latest now, and their owners tried out more and more functions, browsing through app offers in search of applications for fun, games, consumption, everyday organisation and work. They downloaded more apps to their mobile phones than ever before.

Apple's App Store, for example, generated a turnover of 32.8 billion dollars in the first half of 2020, which corresponds to a growth of 24.7 percent compared to the same period of the previous year. The Google Play Store recorded an annual growth rate of 21 percent with sales of 17.3 billion dollars. 

Agencies that develop apps are also experiencing a boom: "Before Corona we had five to six requests per week, now we have them per day," says Michael Haack, Head of Sales at the digital agency P&M. The Hamburg-based agency is convinced that the demand, which was already rising before Corona, is far from reaching its peak with the outbreak of the pandemic.  

Marketing experts are also convinced of this: "The use of mobile phones has increased significantly by 20 percent compared to the previous year, and the average online time of users accounts for 27 percent of their day," write the editors of horizont.net.

They quote market researchers who are convinced that this development will bring more digital advertising opportunities and that companies should prioritise their mobile offers, as the Covid 19 pandemic has made mobile devices even more important sales drivers than before.  

Current apps in the furniture industry 

There are already a number of apps for the furniture industry which are very well received by customers because they make life more pleasant and make it easier to choose and decide. Looking at the big social media platforms, Pinterest is probably the most interesting app for the furniture industry. Design fans can find inspiration and furnishing tips there. In our Pinterest Guide, we have compiled for you how furniture companies can best use the app. 

In the summer of 2020, Vitra, the traditional house and ambista member, introduced an app that accompanies visitors to the VitraHaus campus. With the app, design enthusiasts can learn more about the architecture of the house, about Vitra products and collections and can book consultation appointments directly at the Interior Studio. Another example is Architonic, an app from the design platform of the same name, which not only provides information on designer furniture but also enables contact with manufacturers and dealers.

The mail-order company Otto, also a member of the ambista network, on the other hand, relies on direct, intelligent product suggestions and commissioned an app from P&M: "The customer wanted an app that would find similar products based on an image that the user uploads or takes directly in the app and then guides the user to the corresponding shop with his favourite product," explains the agency. In addition, Otto is creating another channel that leads customers to their own online shop.

This is what the app that P&M developed for Otto looks like. © screenshot

App developments, possibilities and costs for furniture companies 

Many apps are conceivable for furniture companies and so requests from the industry are very frequent with digital agencies. They are looking for apps that can be used to bind them to their own brand via tried-and-tested point and bonus systems, right up to completely new ones: "Augmented reality is being used more and more," reports Michael Haack from P&M. 

"If interested parties can see a table or a sofa live in their own living room via an app and the camera of their smartphone or tablet, this makes the decision to buy much easier". However, developing AR apps is very expensive.

"Many eventualities have to be taken into account, shadows, movement effects and many other things have to be designed in 3D so that furniture can be visualised in the room via the camera. This costs a lot of time and money, the sales manager knows and explains: "An app that is supposed to do something cannot be realised in less than a month.  

Programming, coordination, changes, adjustments, testing the app on the target group and implementing the test results to improve the app takes time. "You should plan two or three months for an app development," advises Haack and raises concerns: "The cost of developing a well-functioning, comprehensive app can range from 20,000 euros to six-figure figures. Depending on what the app is supposed to achieve.  

Only uncomplicated apps, which, for example, simply provide information about what can be found in a furniture store via a few menu items, are relatively quick to create and are available for less than 10,000 euros.

Michael Haack is Head of Sales at the digital agency P&M, which developed the app

The digitisation of small and medium-sized enterprises 

Smaller companies are increasingly turning to digitisation and are using apps in all kinds of business areas - from product data master data maintenance to sales. "Sales departments are increasingly going out with a tablet and an app instead of a confusing Excel spreadsheet on which the products are listed," says Michael Haack.  

"Sales tools are very popular because they visualise the offer on site, the conclusion, contract and customer report can be made directly on the tablet and entered into the business system. This makes apps ideal for medium-sized companies because they save personnel and resources, optimise processes and indirectly contribute to increasing sales". He is convinced that the wave of digitalisation, which began even before Corona, will not abate with the hopefully imminent end of the pandemic.

Author: Christine Sommer-Guist

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