SMB mobile app builder App Express launched yesterday at SXSW. Together with AppStack and ShoutEm, App Express offers a simple way for SMBs to create mobile apps for themselves. Traffic was surprisingly brisk at the booth in the SXSW exhibit hall.
In addition to the self-service/DIY strategy, App Express is seeking to work with third party sales channels as a white label platform. It currently has a reseller relationship with User Friendly Media (YP), which is also one of the investors.
The way that App Express seeks to differentiate from others is with a long list of features and capabilities that make it more of a loyalty, scheduling and billing tool than a pure marketing tool. Here’s the official feature list:
- Appointment scheduling – display availability and schedule appointments
- Payments – invoice and receive payments on the go
- Messaging – connect with customers in real time
- Sharing – share app with friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. Engage users to “follow” your business on twitter and “like” your business on Facebook
- Deals – engage customers with loyalty and couponing system
- Information – provide essential contact information and menu of services
- One-page, mobile-optimized website – the most important “on-the-go” contact information to promote app discovery by directing the user to download the app
It’s available for iOS and Android. Payments are enabled through PayPal integration.
The array of capabilities here is impressive. As I said, it’s really a CRM tool although it does have new customer acquisition aspects.
One could critique it as follows: 1) there are arguably too many features and 2) SMBs need mobile-optimized sites more than they need mobile apps, which they have to get customers to download. There is an automatic, one-page mobile-optimized HTML site created simultaneously. However it doesn’t have all the app’s bells and whistles.
For service businesses with regular or recurring appointments, App Express could be extremely valuable as a loyalty and retention tool. It can also be used to stimulate demand (e.g., deals/promotions).