How optimising for mobile helped scale my business offering
Bookatable CEO Joe Steele explains how his restaurant booking company successfully expanded across multiple mobile devices
Name: Joe Steele
Started in: Originally established in 2008, rebranded to Bookatable in 2014
Company description: Europe’s largest real-time restaurant marketplace
Describe your start-up barrier:
Expanding the Bookatable platform across multi-channel devices has been one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced as a brand, and one that many new companies will find crucial in the development of their businesses.
Having analysed our platform this year, we found that 41% of our user base now books restaurants through tablets or mobiles, compared to 7% in 2011. This proves that the modern consumer expects access to your brand at all times and any company that can’t offer this type of service to match the demand for mobile accessibility will ultimately fail in the modern marketplace.
What steps did you take to expand across different mobile devices?
There have been a number of factors that have proved critical in expanding our service across consumer devices. We devised a sophisticated strategy to propel Bookatable’s mobile/tablet proposition, and these fall into three key areas:
1. Responsive website. The first crucial stage of expanding our service was undoubtedly creating an optimised experience across all devices. Whether accessing our website via desktop, tablet or mobile, users can enjoy a seamless booking experience and are able to navigate through our site with ease.
2. The app. Extending from our responsive site, we wanted to enter the application marketplace to provide our consumer audience with an even more convenient way to make bookings and locate the most desirable restaurant deals across the UK. Our iOS app offers restaurant goers greater accessibility and facilitates spontaneous dining, which has become so popular amongst consumers. This has proved to be a lucrative addition to the existing services we provide to our customers, who have been able to benefit from the ‘fast dining’ mobile trend.
3. Mobile deals. The Bookatable app enables users to take full advantage of exclusive ‘star deal’ and ‘book now, pay later’ promotions, which are targeted to correspond with the user’s local city and driven through the app’s popular star deals offer section. Mobile users also receive first-look notifications, meaning they will gain primary access to the best deals and tables earlier than everyone else.
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By ensuring that we are offering exclusive content regardless of the consumer’s point of access, we have expanded our service to account for the significant user base that prefers to book tables via mobile and tablet, and exclusive deals on these platforms has certainly assisted this goal.
What key questions should other entrepreneurs ask themselves before developing a mobile offering?
1. How will you build your mobile offering? For anyone building a mobile app or an app that can run on mobile devices, it’s important to make sure it supports the number of styles and sizes of mobile devices available. These include smart phones (small or large screens), tablets, and even netbooks and notebooks. Building your app through a responsive platform will enable this transition.
2. Who is your target audience? With multiple platforms and app styles available, developers need to consider where they want to host their application. After all, we no longer live in a Windows dominated world. In fact, according to the latest ‘Mobile Operating Report’, almost 70% of smart phone users now use either iOS or Android. This means that your app strategy should be targeting these platforms in particular, because ignoring one market could limit the amount of success your business enjoys.
However, in an ever-changing space, it’s important to keep an eye on the market to stay ahead of the game and be ready for the next big thing.
3. What will your mobile solution offer? Apart from maximising consumer accessibility, your mobile solution should offer additional services, deals and promotions that provide your loyal user base with an incentive to access content through an app. This has proved to be particularly crucial in growing our database of mobile users, who now receive considerable benefits through the Bookatable mobile application.
4. Do you have the relevant expertise for success?
Our background was very much cemented in technology, meaning that we had the know-how and the personnel required to build a sophisticated mobile proposition. If you’re looking to move into the mobile sector, it’s vital you have the right expertise to make the move a success.
What one piece of advice do you think entrepreneurs should take on board?
Understand the marketplace you’re getting into, identify the needs of your customers and analyse the successes and failures of your competitors – this will drive your business proposition and allow you to identify that crucial gap in the market.