App developers should seek constant feedback from consumers while building their apps, says Brisbane-based start-up aradium, which has seen its Facebook app rapidly embraced around the world despite launching just a few months ago.
Founded by Ryan Mills, aradium helps SMEs grow and maintain customer service and engagement, and increase their online marketing reach through the creation of a Facebook store.
Since launching in late 2011, more than 650 Australian businesses and more than 1,100 international businesses have signed up to aradium.
In addition to being available in Australia, aradium has launched in New Zealand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and South Africa.
As of this month, aradium has more than 10,000 active monthly users. Mills says Facebook is an ideal sales channel because of its focus on relationships, unlike search engines.
“The concept of creating an ad and having it ranked on a search engine, competing against all other similar ads, does nothing to encourage long-term client engagement or repeat business,” he says.
“In most cases, relationships have become meaningless as buyers search only for the cheapest products, and sellers pay handsomely to outrank each other.”
“On search engines, you’re only as good as your last SEO ranking and advertising bid. By comparison, Facebook drives real engagement and connection through the social web.”
“When a repeat customer makes a purchase, the chances are they will be purchasing from a brand they ‘Like’ as opposed to a brand they have no meaningful, long-term relationship with.”
Mills says aradium provides the tools for sellers to develop and maintain genuine engagement with clients, providing a level of customer service not available on any other online platform.
“We plan on developing deeper integration with [Facebook’s] social graph, open graph and Facebook Timeline features to enhance the social shopping experience,” he says.
According to aradium’s communication manager Paul Sobczak, the start-up hasn’t received any outside funding, but isn’t ruling it out in the future.
“We started developing it in August last year and had three months of beta testing to work out backend functionality and technical aspects, and features consumers were after,” Sobczak says.
“The ultimate goal is to keep developing features that clients are asking for to help them with their business.”
“The biggest lesson we’ve learned is the value of customer feedback and engagement.”
“We’re only based on Facebook, so we’re using people’s Facebook walls to ask them what features they like and how they’re going.”
“It’s really important to have that approach when you start a business, especially when you’re developing an app. Success comes down to listening to your customer feedback and adapting to suit their needs.”