We’ve gotten some great feedback from our Digital Dialtone posts. One of the people who reached out was Shira Anderson – Marketing Manager for Como. Shira wanted to know why mobile apps were not specifically called out as part of our Digital Dialtone, and, after a brief email discussion, it got to the point where it made sense to dig deeper. I asked Shira if we could interview her and put the conversation on our blog and she said “yes”! I was impressed with Shira’s knowledge and passion for the small business owner and her positions on where mobile apps fit in.
Q: Tell me a little bit about Como
A: Como operates a do it yourself application platform. It allows anybody to build their own mobile app via the platform and our focus is on small businesses that don’t have the staff and money to build a large scale mobile application. Como’s tools allow these businesses to create an application and submit it to the app store, where they “own” their own app. Como helps the businesses submit the app to the stores as well as managing the app. Our offices are in Israel as well as NYC. We launched in 2010 as an open platform for anybody to build a native mobile app for iOS or Android. In 2014, we relaunched as Como, with a specific focus on serving the small- and medium-sized business community.
Any small businesses that want to check out our platform can do so for free. Go to www.como.com and click the Create My App link.
Q: Who is your typical customer? Why do they choose you? What problem do they have?
A: We focus on small business – our main segments include health and beauty, restaurants, certain service providers, clinics (e.g., veterinary), retail. We also have artists and bloggers using our tools. Each vertical is different in terms of pain point – optimizing ordering, reservations, etc. Click to call, Push notification, geo-targeting.
Q: It seems like your customer needs a physical storefront to really take advantage of a mobile app. Would you agree?
A: Primarily, yes. Although, we do have an online store capability that includes eCommerce functionality, so virtual stores can use it too.
Over 1M apps have been created on the platform. Many are co-branded, but not all. All are uploaded with the business owners individual App Store account.
Q: Let’s talk about the Hyperlocal market – the small/local business owner – what do you think they are worried about?
A: They are the most intuitive users of mobile…. it’s not an advertising play it’s an engagement play. It’s for already existing and loyal customers. For example, a Seattle micro-brewery is using the app for push notifications and loyalty points. This “special relationship” is being built which is getting existing customers to come back more, and creating a really positive feedback loop.
Q: Ok, engagement is near and dear to our hearts, so that is great. My only concern is app overload – if all the local businesses I frequent have a different app, I’ve got way too many icons on my phone!
A: It’s probably true that I won’t use an app for my top 12 local businesses, but I would for my top 3. The personalization is critical and something the consumer craves. I’m a dog lover and use the app my Vet provides – she engages me with push notifications, let’s me know about things I should do for my dog, and makes it easy for me to make appointments and ask questions. Not everybody needs that vet app, but it makes me that much more loyal to her because it’s important to me.
Q: One last question – you’ve done a great job discussing the benefits of Mobile, but I still don’t think it’s a sufficient part of a small business strategy. Do you agree? If so, how and where do you think Mobile fits in?
A: I agree that mobile is very important, but not sufficient. Como does integrate with social and other third party apps, and we recommend that business owners plan out their entire engagement strategy. What Como really does is allow businesses to expand and reinforce their relationship with their regulars—which is a vital component to one’s business strategy, but certainly not the only one.
Q: Shira, thanks so much for your time and helping us understand the Como app. We will consider how and where to include mobile websites in the Digital Dialtone!
A: Thank you.