Retail Mobile App Development Saves Retailer $400K Annually

Mobile App Case Study National Retailer

Is it possible to completely redesign a retail merchandising system at a national level in just 1850 hours? That’s what Sourcebits did for one of our clients, a U.S. retail giant. They came to us with the need for custom retail mobile app development to address issues the retailer faced with their old Infolink handheld system. You won’t see their name mentioned here or in our portfolio because the client considers the mobile app we created such a critical part of their competitive advantage.

Read on for an in-depth look at how we brought a large national retailer’s mobile app to life. Or you can read the retail mobile app case study summary.

Read The Case Study Summary

The large US retailer had already commissioned custom hardware, a specially designed Motorola device running on the Android OS, and was ready to integrate with a new backend system, but still needed a custom mobile solution which would:

  • Decrease the time needed to train a retail merchandise employee
  • Increase the accuracy and amount of work done in the same timeframe
  • Be unintimidating for non­traditional smart device users

Sourcebits began work after being recommended by the client’s new retail systems solution provider. Our team flew out on multiple occasions to the client’s global headquarters to discuss the solution proposal, review over 3,500 requirements and conduct workflow research in the field.

With Sourcebits’ new app in place, the large US retailer saw dramatically increased levels of productivity and employee satisfaction. Since the processes to accomplish tasks now made logical sense to employees, the app cut 1­2 weeks of time off training and about 3­5 days off employee shadowing — saving our client over $400,000.

Business Requirements for a Retail Mobile App

Our client had over 3,500 requirements that Sourcebits’ designers needed to meet. The target user ranged from part-­time mothers to the semi­-retired, who were either not experienced with technology or intimidated by it. With the aim of creating an extremely high standard of user experience, our client wanted to ensure the new system took over from the old and encapsulated additional mobile app user functionality.

The retailer’s mobile app needed to be:

  • Designed within the guidelines set by Google’s Android OS
  • Conforming with the client’s business goals and protocols
  • Intuitive and require as little training as possible
  • Made with employee’s needs and workflows at the forefront
  • A pleasant and productive mobile experience for the day-­to-­day user

The retail mobile app was so comprehensive it spanned the functionality of eight traditional mobile applications, including but not limited to: managing and tracking employee work times, reviewing managerial messages, checking the status of shipments, placing new orders, and taking accurate inventory of on­hand products.

One of the app’s main focal points was to assist in the scheduled retail store visits. An employee’s store visit would begin by sorting misplaced inventory into the correct display positions, of which there may be multiple per piece of inventory.

As an example; during the holiday season children rearrange the card displays, returning inventory to random locations throughout the store. Even the simple task of reorganizing can take hours of an employee’s time. Even with the aid of an alphanumeric system, each card needs to be physically handled in order to find the correct pocket. To further complicate the process, notes had to be placed inside pockets by retail employees to let co­workers know whether there was backstock available for that particular item. As illustrated, this process was far from efficient and lead to numerous pain points for the user at each store visit.

Retail Mobile App Design Process & Implementation

With understanding of the mobile app requirements and the completion of “in­-the-­field” research, our mobile design team started to iterate on the application flow. Two weeks were spent on-site at the company’s global headquarters working with the Business and Retail Management teams. Whiteboarding sessions proved to be a valuable tool in determining where and what was displayed on each screen. Often times a screen design needed to be amended during a session to support new or additional functionality.

With whiteboards photographed, the team could then easily and effectively move forward designing frameworks for specific mobile functionality. These frameworks were then solidified into a consistent user experience throughout the mobile application. In the end, our client knew the high level of quality product designed within the coming days, weeks and months.

The overall visual treatment and visual design of the mobile application followed functional methodologies versus elaborate custom visuals. Use of color, iconography and typography were used where and when it made sense. The retail employee needed to know critical data points at a glance and this approach was confirmed many times in later review sessions.

Continue reading the in-depth look at how we brought a large national retailer’s mobile app to life. Or you can read the retail mobile app case study summary.

Read The Case Study Summary

The Mobile App Design Timeline

  1. April to May: Understanding of Application Requirements & Usage
  2. May to July: User Interface Design of the entire application
  3. June to July: Visual Design of the entire application
  4. June to Nov: Developmental design assets (Slices & Design Specifications)
  5. July to Jan: Design QA of the implementation by developers

April 2013 — Meeting 1: Requirements Review

  • 3500+ mobile application requirements
  • Determination of technology to be used
  • Estimation of design resources and time to complete
  • Presentation of Design Methodology and Process

May 2013 — Meeting 2: Design Focused

  • Whiteboarding of 13 key mobile application functionalities
  • Designing of functional flow diagrams
  • Designing of user interface frameworks

July 2013 — Meeting 3: Design focused

  • Whiteboarding of 7 key application functionalities
  • In­-depth review of previous meetings’ User Interface (UI) design
  • Requesting of legal approval for Time Tracking & Expense portion of application
  • Designing of user interface of other various aspects

Sept 2013 — Meeting 4: User Feedback

  • Screen-by-screen workflow reviews with retail staff/li>
  • Detailed information gathering and feedback on the UI design/li>
  • Discussions with client on incorporation of retail staff feedback

Dec 2013 — Meeting 5: User Feedback

  • Screen-by-screen workflow reviews with retail staff
  • Detailed information gathering and feedback on the UI design
  • Discussions with client on incorporation of retail staff feedback

Jan 2014 — Meeting 6: Final Approval

  • Complete application walk­through with business and retail staff
  • Final design approvals from business executives
  • Final legal approval on Time Tracking & Expense portion of application
    • April 2014 — Pilot Release

      • Small-scale (1,000 units) release of the app
      • User feedback and use case checking
      • Estimation of design resources and time for amends from Pilot

      May 2014 — Phase 1b

      • Design of additional required functionality that was removed from Phase 1
      • Addition of user feedback requests from Pilot

      July 2014 — Full Company-wide Release

      • Full release of the custom-made device with the new retail mobile app to 50,000 employees nationwide/li>

      Inside The Project’s Mobile App Development

      The retail mobile app development was handled by a new backend retail merchandising solution, with a Sourcebits development team brought in to handle the user interface implementation. Our client understood the risks of it being handled any other way, as the cohesive bond between Sourcebits designers and developers is proven. The result was a pixel-perfect interface, from start to finish.

      Let’s Talk Mobile Apps

      Looking for a talented mobile design and app development team dedicated to your success? Have a mobile app you want to bring to life or revamp? Sourcebits is designed to deliver mobile results – just like we did for our national retailer client.

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Piotr Gajos, Chief Innovation Officer

Piotr is Sourcebits Chief Innovation Officer. A 2006 Apple Design Award winner, Piotr draws much of his inspiration from film and music, and focuses on leading our Innovation Strategy Workshops, generating new ideas for Sourcebits, and consulting on projects.