Retail app specialist, Common Agency, eyes further expansion following decade in business

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L to r: Howship and Childs – expansion plans

A boutique mobile app company celebrating 10 years in business is set for further expansion over the next five years.

With offices in Huddersfield and London, Common Agency has been a service-based organisation since it was established in 2005.

However, big plans to capitalise on the mobile revolution will see the entrepreneurial company reinvest £250,000 of profits over the next 18 months. The objective is to fuel further diversification through the launch of two new products, which will be offered alongside Common’s existing professional services.

This new direction follows an exciting decade for Common. At the time of inception, in October 2005, founder Ben Childs was worried he was entering the world of mobile design too late. But it soon became apparent that, whilst technology was evolving at a rapid pace, the wider business community wasnt actually ready. He said: I did some fantastic design work for companies such as Orange and HTC, but beyond that, most brands were pretty fearful of all things mobile.

However, in 2010 I had a chance meeting with experienced retailer and self-confessed technology aficionado Simon Howship. We met for lunch the next day, realised we shared a passion for the potential of mobile apps and the rest, as they say, is history. We decided to reposition Common as a dedicated mobile app design and development business and Simon became my business partner and MD of the reshaped company.”

In the five years that followed, Common developed a strong foothold in the world of high volume transactional native apps for the retail industry. Having worked for notable clients including Moonpig, PhotoBox and Cow & Gate, Common has launched Android and iOS apps in 16 countries, in 10 different languages, and with more than 30 million downloads and updates from the app store to date. In the same period, the workforce has grown from five to 12, and turnover has grown by more than 500%.

Howship said: We have a lot to be proud of when we look at Commons journey to date. We took a brave decision in 2010 to solely focus on native mobile app development, and that decision has paid off. Our headquarters remains at The Media Centre in Huddersfield, where the company has been based from the outset, but the technically connected world allows us to work with clients in London and beyond.

“Weve stayed true to our mobile focus too. Rather than trying to be one of many super agencies’ in the region, weve chosen instead to work with expert ‘partners’ – the Common Collective’ – when we need to complement our in-house expertise or skills.

And this will stand us in good stead for further growth. Typically 86% of consumers’ time on smartphones is spent in apps, whilst only 14% is spent on mobile websites. Consumers are also more likely to transact via an app, than they are on mobile web. Yet despite Barclaysstatistics which forecast that mobile spend will rocket from £9.7bn to £53bn by 2025, 68% of retailers still have no m-commerce strategy. By investing heavily in more development, and new skill sets, were positioning ourselves to take an even bigger slice of the market.

Rather than moving away from the development of bespoke native mobile apps for retail, Common will complement this service with the alternative of a best practice retail app product – RAPP – a solution designed to break down the barriers and simplify retailers’ decision to embark on an app strategy.

Whilst RAPP has been soft launched online, Commons second product is being kept firmly under wraps, for now. Simon concludes: “Our £250,000 profit reinvestment in less than two years will further develop our already successful business and enable us to incubate our new product offerings. This is the start of a very exciting next decade for Common.