Today, software vendors continue to rush the development of new B2B apps in order to capture a share of this ever-expanding market. However, it’s crucial to recognize what it takes to achieve success. In a competitive environment with high expectations, you must deliver a user-friendly app with consistent business value and reliable experiences.
During the first decade of mobile apps, business-to-consumer (B2C) apps flooded the App Stores and dominated Top 20 consumer lists with an abundance of functionality around lifestyle, social media, utility, productivity, gaming/entertainment, and news and information. From the get-go, B2C apps benefited from low barriers to entry and even lower standards for initial user download.
In contrast, business-to-business (B2B) apps emerged more slowly. With a couple of notable exceptions, these apps rarely found a spot on the App Stores’ featured lists, and many had limited public exposure because vendors only offered them as gated apps for direct purchase.
Then 2018 arrived, and the tides of change rolled in. Organizations were feeling the mounting pressure to appease employees who hated being tethered to a computer for work. If their personal lives could be managed entirely on mobile devices, why couldn’t their work lives operate the same way?
B2B apps quickly rose to prominence, offering the best way to match employee expectations while also streamlining business functions, enabling seamless global operations, and helping organizations keep pace with the digital speed of business. As B2B apps became more prolific, SaaS App Stores and Marketplaces started to emerge, designed specifically to promote these types of solutions.
Thus began a new phase of workplace modernization, powered by B2B apps.
Today, software vendors continue to rush the development of new B2B apps in order to capture a share of this ever-expanding market. However, it’s crucial to recognize what it takes to achieve success. In a competitive environment with high expectations, you must deliver a user-friendly app with consistent business value and reliable experiences. Anything less will land your app firmly in the “also-ran” category.
The Rapid Adoption of B2B Apps
Fast-forward from 2018 to 2020, and the Boston Consulting Group now predicts that 70% of all B2B queries will be on a smartphone this year. By 2023, the market for B2B apps is expected to hit $140 billion, which will support a global, mobile workforce anticipated to reach 1.88 billion people.
Now viewed as a must-have technology, B2B apps are used by organizations to match one or more of their primary business objectives:
- Commerce for selling products and services to other businesses
- External coordination with partners and third-parties
- Internal management for streamlining team-based work and communications
- Employee facilitation for training, task management, document sharing, real-time chats, etc.
What’s impressive is how quickly organizations have adopted and deployed B2B apps across all four categories. As of 2019, small and mid-sized companies averaged 73 apps in use, while enterprises averaged 129 apps. Remarkably, almost 10% of enterprises have adopted more than 200 apps!
How did this ramp-up occur so quickly?
- Data power: Organizations recognize the immense value in collecting real-time data that improves business operations and delivers data-driven insights about clients, partners, and employees.
- Customer delight: Employees are accustomed to using apps in their personal lives, which helps explain why 76% prefer mobile apps over mobile websites. That means well-designed B2B apps often feel like a known entity to employees and therefore require little to no training, which enables usage to ramp up quickly.
And, for those organizations that invest in building a commerce app, B2B apps offer an opportunity to extend their web strategy and delight customers. An Adobe survey of IT decision-makers demonstrates that the primary use cases organizations include in their B2B apps revolve around customer loyalty (63%), digital enrollment (54%), sales enablement (47%), employee productivity (46%), and brand awareness (46%).
Optimized and Personalized Experiences Spark Loyalty
This widespread exuberance for B2B apps puts immense pressure on one group in particular: B2B app developers.
In order to be successful, apps must win early customers and convert them into evangelists. That loyalty is earned through measurable business value and optimized app experiences. In other words, first-generation B2B apps can’t come out of the gates lacking in functionality or riddled with errors. Users expect an engaging and seamless experience, as illustrated by the fact that 80% of B2B customers want a B2C experience when they’re purchasing for work.
To achieve repeat in-app purchases and brand loyalty, the user experience must be optimized and personalized. More than 90% of buyers claim that they are more likely to buy again from a vendor with an outstanding mobile experience. On the flip side, 48% have left a website to purchase from a competitor when the digital experience is poor or lacks personalization.
Strong app experiences even outperform websites. B2B purchasers return two times faster and spend 27% more money per session in a mobile app over a mobile website. Of note, optimized checkouts improve conversion and yield a 300% improvement over mobile websites.
And there’s even more great news: B2B app usage is correlated with positive employee outcomes. Companies experience quantifiable boosts, including:
- 47% improvement in internal communication
- 35% ROI when they invest in work apps
- 34% improvement in productivity
- 23% increase in employee satisfaction
- 21% increase in employee loyalty
What Employees Really Want from B2B Apps
Unfortunately, despite all the potential upsides, today’s reality falls short. Roughly half (45%) of B2B app users express the belief that vendors are failing to deliver great customer experiences. And this disappointment doesn’t point to the desire for more features.
What do knowledge workers truly want from their B2B apps? Minimal bugs and issues. When asked what’s the most important attribute of an app, the number one user-desired attribute is that the app runs consistently with few glitches (31%)—cited twice as often as any other attribute.
In short, bugs and crashes matter. As an app provider, you can’t deliver a B2B app and expect users to turn a blind eye to any issues. Stability and reliability must be achieved, which requires thorough testing and monitoring to ensure every user experience is smooth and error-free.
Standards are understandably high for all workplace solutions, and apps are no exception. While consumer expectations may drive the app experience, business expectations drive adoption and continued usage. Companies have little patience for issues that slow down productivity or frustrate their employees, especially when alternatives exist.
That’s why the best way to ensure short- and long-term success is to deliver stable and reliable B2B apps that organizations can rely on.