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Are apps the way of the future for small businesses?

Small business mobile apps are set to double within the year, according to a new survey by Clutch, the software and professional services research firm.

The survey showed 15% of small businesses have a mobile app, and another 18% are considering developing one in 2015 or later.

However, some are yet to be convinced, as 40% of respondents say they are unlikely to have a mobile app in the future.

"Consumers are using mobile apps to research locations to shop, eat, play and relax - and it's up to businesses to be where their audience is," says Krista McLandress, AppsBuilder marketing manager.

"Most businesses understand that a mobile-friendly or responsive website is imperative to their business, but many still lag behind adopting a mobile app strategy," she says.

Clutch's survey also examined the key reasons why small businesses are building apps.

The number one reason - selected by 76% of respondents - is to improve customer service.

"The most successful small businesses know that the single deciding factor for them as a competitor is making sure that their loyal customers are treated well and want to keep coming back," says Shira Anderson, Como marketing manager.

"That is what mobile apps do best. Mobile apps allow you to really reward your loyal customers with a certain exclusivity and intimacy that isn’t available on any other channel,” she says.