In this day and age, businesses and organizations are highly dependent on mobile applications for growth and higher revenue earnings. Since every second a person owning a smartphone these days, apps have become the order of the day. Their popularity arises from the fact that they offer extreme convenience to users, be it for shopping, traveling, booking hotel rooms, transferring money, or whatever interaction we can think in these modern times we can have online.
Yelp is an online local business directory that has become extremely popular over the past decade. The app first detects the users’ location and provides options in a list form to choose from. The possibilities range from a restaurant to a beauty salon and local attractions to almost whatever the user is looking for. Besides, providing detailed information about an establishment or destination, including their map, Yelp also contains reviews and comments of earlier visitors to help new users in the decision-making process.
Every month, Yelp is downloaded by more than 142 million users, according to estimation. Yelp has become so secure and trustworthy than other apps that have emulated, it has become more responsible in terms of their service offerings. It offers businesses product and services-promotion options through both free and paid advertising platforms.
So, how do we build a local business directory app like Yelp, and how can it be monetized? Let’s gain some useful insights.
The features can be divided into three broad panels that comprise customer, business owner, and administrative features. Customer features can include smart or advanced search options, business details, photo galleries, navigation, favorite listings, advertisements, online bookings and reviews and ratings among a host of other features.
Features for the business owner can comprise setting up profiles, business listings, managing bookings and business advertisements, securing payments and viewing reviews and ratings. For the admin, a local business directory app like Yelp can provide features such as login and dashboard panels to manage reports, profiles, conversations, listings, earnings, advertisements, analytics, and forums.
It is always advisable to launch a local business directory app like Yelp with basic features that are highly viable to make it successful. Minimum Viable Product (MVP) features ensure agility and success when developing a local business directory app like Yelp. Such a strategy is not only cost-saving, but it also allows you to review other users’ feedback that will help in determining the functionalities to implement in the next stage of your app development.
MVP for an app like Yelp includes features such as newsfeed, location-based search, user profile, filter and reviews, and ratings.
This is a feature that allows users to check all news and notifications and previous activities chronologically.
Search activities based on geo-location enable users to locate businesses such as restaurants, shopping areas, salons and pubs that are the nearest. This feature is most helpful to tourists as the geo-location platform on their mobile devices pinpoints their desired destination or establishment and acts as a stress remover.
This feature includes user reviews, photos, establishments and destinations visited by people and a list of favorite places.
Reviews and ratings:
Users can read the reviews and ratings given for places or services by earlier visitors and make choices of their own. They can also add their reviews and ratings of businesses they have visited.
This feature allows users to filter search results by sifting through basic parameters such as price, delivery time, offerings and distance.
The next step required when building an on-demand local business directory app like Yelp is to incorporate advanced features such as social sign-ins, reservation, media, purchases, messenger and conversational interfaces and advanced filters.
Every reputed on-demand app development company lays strong emphasis on the admin panel and start building a local business directory app like Yelp that has no exception. Integrating the admin panel with the content management system (CMS) enables information editing, services management, and user deletion or blocking, among several other tasks.
Yelp’s reputation system:
Yelp has gained a definite competitive advantage over its peers because of its highly-valued reputation system. The app’s reputation system helps users to get a clearer picture of businesses and services. Yelp also has unique review filters, with an overwhelming number of customers who are considering Yelp a trusted source for reviews and opinions. Customer choice is highly influenced by text reviews, business ratings, the number of reviews and reviews given by family and friends. As much as 72% of consumers trust online reviews apart from personal recommendations, with 90% of Yelp users saying positive reviews impact their buying decisions.
Yelp’s review embedding code feature allows customers to integrate reviews to their platforms by using the codes of reviews. The system generates review codes as customers click on the embed option.
This feature is vital for businesses as it allows them to read customer reviews about services they are available and get feedback that’ll help them to become better. Products and services must improve with time, so customers can provide priceless feedback to businesses that can keep them ahead in the competition.
To cut a long story short, other features that can be incorporated when developing a local business directory app like Yelp, include cloud storage integration, payment gateway integration, SMS API integration, email/contact number verification, media sharing, and offers and discounts.
How does Yelp make money?
Yelp offers businesses free & paid advertising options for promoting their products and services.
The options include:
Targeted advertisements and profile enhancements:
Companies add premium features such as custom images and videos to build branded and personalized profiles and pay reasonable sums for this. They can also choose to have the call-to-action button in their Yelp profiles to transfer customers to their websites right from the yelp. Yelp also offers businesses an enhanced profile option for preventing advertisements of other companies from appearing on their business pages.
As Yelp has become a very trustworthy platform, it offers the Yelp Verified License to companies for a fee. This license appears on their business pages to help enhance consumer trust. Further, Yelp monetizes company profiles by promoting them in the app search, wherein for every user click companies have to pay the app a cost-per-click fee.
Revenue from transactions:
The user has to pay a commission for every product ordered or bought through Yelp. It also levies a service charge for product and service promotions on companies by way of discounted deals. The app charges businesses additional fees if customers use such deals. Businesses offer customers gift certificates for a price, and if they buy, Yelp levies businesses a transaction fee.
Yelp also offers additional paid services such as Yelp Reservation, Yelp Waitlist, and Yelp Wi-Fi Marketing.
Cost to develop an app like Yelp
A number of factors have to be taken into account to calculate the actual cost of developing a local business directory app like Yelp.
The first decision is the choice of development platform, whether to choose Android or iOS. The time of app development depends on how complex you want your app to be and consumes almost the same number of hours for Android or iOS alike. The final cost of developing an app like Yelp depends on the number of features that will build into the app, more features mean more cost. For instance, it may take 80-100 hours for developing the push notification feature, 80-160 hours for uploading pictures and videos and more than 300 hours for integrating the filtering feature.
An excellent interface is very important for an app like Yelp, but here too, the cost will depend on the complexity. At the same time, the app must be user-friendly, and an app with a user-friendly UX design can cost anywhere between $3,000 to $8,000. Meanwhile, a similar app with excellent user-interface design can cost $4,000-$10,000.
App development company’s location:
App development companies in North America and Western Europe have high charges that range from $50 to $250 per hour. Companies based in Eastern Europe can charge anywhere between $30 to $150 per hour, while India-based developers charge $20-$80 per hour for the same level of expertise.
An app like Yelp with MVP features for a single platform can be developed with $8,000 and $15,000. If the app is targeted at both platforms and integrated with advanced features, the total development cost can go up to $25,000.
A crucial aspect for any app to turn out highly successful is how well its code has been written. After all, the ultimate aim of businesses is to increase their customer base by making their app easy to use and operate. Hence, along with integrating the right functionalities and features, a successful app must also have well-written coding.
The popularity of local online directory apps like Yelp must be attributed to the inclination of people toward visiting new establishments and destinations and sharing their overall experience with family and friends. Yelp-like apps make travel easy and hassle-free and give confidence to people when they visit new destinations. They offer a win-win situation to all – the user, business owner, and the app owner. As we have seen, Yelp reaps considerable profits from the application of its monetization models. Startups would remain handicapped if they shied away from considering developing an app like Yelp in this age of high competition.