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So easy, it’s just four words: “Free smart phone demo.”

Most of the “smart” connected devices being made these days for the home are controlled via a mobile phone app. In almost every case, the mobile app is available for downloading for free, since device companies aren’t in the business of selling software. For many users, the mobile app interface is one of the most crucial aspects of the product in question, since it’s what they will interact with every day.


But in designing their mobile apps, many device makers overlook a crucial implication of all this: People want to try out the app before they buy the product the app controls. If the app involves a piece of hardware — for example, a thermostat — a prospective customer is going to want to check out what the day in and day out experience is going to be like. It’s the mobile phone generation’s version of kicking the tires.

But here’s the problem. Many manufacturers assume that customers first buy the product, and then install the app. So some sort of serial number must be entered before being able to use the mobile application. A person who hasn’t yet bought the product, of course, won’t have any serial number, and will more than likely not only abandon the app testing process, but they’ll also forget about ever buying your actual product in the first place.

For what is potentially such a big problem, the solution is remarkably simple. Simply design in a “demo” capability into your mobile app, so users can get the feel of the app before actually buying the product.

It seems a small thing, (and it is) but companies that make a practice of it demonstrate an awareness of a fundamental shift that is occurring in today’s market for home devices: Like it or not, these devices are increasingly being seen as accessories for our mobile phones. If you don’t have a mobile phone app, it’s almost as though you don’t exist. And if your mobile app doesn’t have the same world-class design of others in its category, you can forget about customers every making it as far as to test out what it is you’re really selling.
By: Bob Dahlberg, VP of Business Development at Arrayent, Inc.