As a collection of tools, Indie can be used in many different ways. We will set out a few assumptions and go from there. Your adoption of Indie may differ.
Indie is not magic. It takes work to sell and support an application.
As an App Developer
Let’s assume you have learnt how to design and build an application. You have dedicated yourself to creating a useful app. Now you want to sell the result of all that time and hard work.
- you have built an app;
- you want to sell the app.
As this stage you should investigate the platform’s app store. The platform’s store is likely the largest single market for customers. The process of getting into the store is going to require work, much of it marketing focused.
Thankfully the effort you put into marketing materials for the app store, can be reused for direct sales.
At a minimum you will need:
- A legal means to accept income from sales:
- registered company
- sole trader
- A web page about the app
- A contact e-mail address or web page for customer queries
- 25, 100, and 500 word descriptions of the app
- An icon and screen shots showing the app
Are you able to tick off each item in the list? If not, work on the missing items now.
From this point on, I am going to assume you have met the requirements to submit your app to the platform’s app store. This is quite an assumption. It means you have an app and all the steps above are done.
If your app has been accepted into the store, then you may already be selling to the store’s customers. If so, congratulations! This is an amazing achievement. Earning the first sale is the hardest.
From App Store to Independence
Let’s assume you have an app and you want to sell it outside of the app store.
The question is, can you sell directly to customers? The answer depends on the app’s platform:
If the answer is no, then direct sales options are available but it will be more difficult. Those options are beyond the scope of this section and will not be discussed here.
What is a Direct Sale?
So what is the difference between selling via an app store and selling directly?
A direct sale is where you sell directly to the customer without going through a third party. The customer’s details are known to you. You are responsible for the transaction and for providing the purchased item. Critically, the customer’s relationship is with you.
In comparison, an app store sale is handled by the store. Typically, you do not know the customer’s details and you are not responsible for the transaction. You may not even know about the sale until long after the transaction is complete. When buying from an app store, the customer’s relationship is with the store and not you.
You can choose to sell your app simultaneously in both app stores and directly.
Accepting Direct Sales
There are two key questions we should ask when evaluating direct sales:
- What is the minimum you need to sell directly?
- What does the store provide that is essential?
These two questions should give the same answer. In most cases, the answer will include:
- A means to accept payment;
- A means to require payment;
- A means of distribution;
- A means to update apps.
If you want to stress what is essential, then really only two points are truly essential: a means of payment and a means of distribution. Such an minimal approach echos back to a time of honour based payment schemes.
Today, as a business with costs to cover, some means of requiring payment is critical and a means to update an app is recommended.
This is the essential functionality you need to sell direct to customers and this is where Indie can help.