Can you please provide a brief description of your company and the role that you play there?
Our company, Jack Be Natural, is an online specialty boutique store that primarily specializes in natural baby products, whether it be for diapering, skin care, and sustainably made baby furniture. I’m the co-owner. My wife and I own the business. We’ve been doing this for more than four years now.
What is the name of your application and what is its main purpose?
The app is called Jack Be Natural, just like our company. We wanted something different for our customers who like to shop with a mobile device or tablet. We didn’t just want not to have the Web browser, we wanted an app interface. Our app allows customers to navigate through our products quicker, it is cleaner, and also has really cool features that allow us to offer special promotions.
The app is a one-stop shop where somebody can look through everything, they can see what’s going on with the company, promotions, and social media. It also has a good "About Us" section so people don’t have to dig too deep to find out who we are, and who they’re buying from. It’s a neat way to compartmentalize everything, normally someone would have to surf through many pages on a website to find that information.
Please describe your role in the initial app development process and your current engagement with app development or content updates?
I have zero experience with building apps. I don’t know how to code, I wouldn’t even know where to begin to start an app. I’ve done nothing in terms of developing the app other than just putting in requests of what I would want. Apptive updates and handles all of the coding. I’m more focused on the design and look of the app.
How would you describe your app development skill level, such as beginner, some coding experience, expert, and so on?
What was the business challenge Jack Be Natural was facing that incited the need for a mobile application, and what was the business goal that you were hoping to accomplish?
Today, practically everyone has a smartphone or tablet. If you have an app with your emblem right there on somebody’s phone, it’s easier for them to remember you. I thought an app would be good to have and instead of someone searching online, they could just push a button and have access to our store. That was the impetus behind it. I would have never thought of building an app because I thought there would be a lot of time, money, and skill involved that I didn’t possess. Then, I found Apptive, and they made it all really easy and affordable to do.
What app platforms did you want to build an app for? Did it matter to your business whether the app was a hybrid or native app?
I was definitely interested in having both iOS and Android, and Apptive has capability for both. In the last year, Apptive also added a full version for tablets. In terms of native capabilities, the very first iteration of the app had different tabs, but when you went to shop it took you to the mobile version of our site.
At first, it wasn’t a true app, and that’s something that they have changed, and we now have a native version. It’s a whole different experience and looks a lot better.
Did Jack Be Natural have a formal selection process for deciding on a mobile app development software? Was Jack Be Natural considering other software or possibly a mobile app development service provider?
We found Apptive through our third-party Webhost called Big Commerce. I never considered other mobile app service providers. I kind of ran into this by accident, and as soon as I saw that it was possible and relatively inexpensive it just made sense, but I never researched it. I’ve been happy with the way Apptive does things. I’ve had no reason to look for someone else.
Did you initially begin with the software’s free version or trial period? What pricing plan does Jack Be Natural currently utilize?
We’ve used the premium subscription since partnering with Apptive.
About how long in terms of hours would you approximate it initially took to have an app ready for publication?
When I initially set up the modules on their dashboard, it may have taken me an hour. Then, they helped me customize it a little bit more and gave me suggestions. It’s not been an exhaustive involvement by any means.
When was the application published and to which application stores?
We launched in July of 2012 to both iOS and Android stores.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
Can you share any success, metrics, or overall results of your application since publication?
I’m 100 percent satisfied with Apptive’s service. The way I would characterize it is that they made it easy for the non-technically savvy person and also the small company. I don’t have large marketing budgets. They made it easy for the smaller guy to have a very functional app that will help their store.
The next series of questions is a chance to speak to specific feature areas of the software. Can you speak to the available development tools, such as templates or drag and drop?
They’re very easy to use, and very intuitive. For someone who isn’t very skilled on the technical side of things, it’s easy for me. Someone who is a lot more skilled than me might find it simple. Their modules are very functional and very easy. The functionality has continued to improve as well.
Can you speak to the content management system, such as how do you upload new data or make changes? Have you found the process simple and accessible?
I really don’t have to do anything advanced. The app is linked to my store directly, so anytime I make a pricing change the app refreshes automatically and shows up instantly. If I go into the app module itself, and I change a promotion, that’s instant. Any change I make on the website carries over to the app automatically.
Are you satisfied with the social media, push notifications, and gamification integration options available?
If I do a push notification, that’s instant. So, I’m very happy with that. Originally, they had some issues with their push notifications not showing up in a timely way, but Jason [Jaynes], the co-founder of Apptive, and I have worked through that. He figured out what was causing the issue. We also had a problem where some products weren’t showing up on the app, and he figured that out and fixed it. So, no complaints at all. Across the board, it’s been a very good experience.
Does your app utilize any monetization features? Are you satisfied with the options available?
I don’t have anything to compare it to, but from what I’ve seen of it, and from customer feedback, works great, I couldn’t be any happier.
Have you found it necessary to consult any of Apptive’s available support resources? Was the support useful and accessible?
All along, Jason has been very helpful, very understanding, and adapts to the knowledge level of his customer. He doesn’t go into things that he knows I probably won’t understand. He walks me through it, explains it, and makes sure I understand it.
I think they provide a really great service. They’re very hands-on, and they’re very good communicators. We’ve used other apps before, and when you try to call somebody to ask a question sometimes there’s an arrogance and they kind of dismiss you. I’ve never gotten anything like that from Apptive. They’re just really good to work with. They’re very open to feedback.
Looking back, were there any areas of the software that you felt were not intuitive or that you feel could be improved upon?
The analytics are limited right now. The only thing I can tell is the total downloads. When a purchase comes through, it tells me if it came from a desktop, tablet, or mobile device. What it doesn’t tell me is, if somebody used the Web browser or the app to make a purchase. I would be interested to know what percentage comes from the app. I’ve talked to Jason about that, and he said that’s something they’d work on for future updates. When the push notifications go out, I’d like to be able to see if it generated enough buzz that someone was tempted to go in and make a purchase via the app.
We have a few quick questions and, for each question, we ask you to rate the software on a scale of one to five, with five being the best. What you give the software for ease of use in the development process?
What would you give the software for quality of features available?
Four. As they’re learning more about m-commerce, and they’re improving their technology, I think they’re going to come up with new features. I know that they’re just now scratching the surface, so that’s the content behind my four, not because the app’s not good.
For support, as in responsiveness, communication, and resources available?
For cost, as in value for your money and the time dedicated to development?
For overall usability and satisfaction with the software?
How likely are you to recommend the software to a colleague?
Five. Highly likely.