Using mobile as a lens for the store of the future at Homebase.

A staggering proportion of us - some 88% - find shopping on our mobile device frustrating. Whether its speed or concerns over security, a poor experience leads to abandoned purchases and app deletions - not to mention watching increasing numbers of connected, mobile customers turn to the competition.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Core to driving revenue via m-commerce is an exceptional customer experience - and that’s exactly what we set out to build for Home Retail Group, the UK’s leading home retailer, with a fully transactional, incredibly helpful mobile commerce app.

Built with hybrid technology that delivers the best of native and web, the app helps customers across the UK create the home they love while intelligently driving sales, seamlessly blending assistance, reviews, targeted promotions and great products - at home, in-store and everywhere in between.

Value at every step

In order to drive more sales via mobile, we saw purchasing, inspiration and help not as three separate ‘states’, but rather as one seamless customer journey. This helps customers find the products, inspiration and help they need much more intuitively, avoiding interruptive silos that run the risk of frustrating shoppers, forcing them to abandon their purchase.

Opportunities for cross-promotion also become better integrated with the use of eSpots. These visually-led promotional sections are created right from inside Homebase’s existing CMS platform.

This is particularly useful when considering the seasonal trends that affect Homebase’s sales. During the summer, for example, an eSpot allows Homebase to respond quickly at a micro-trend level: specifically promoting barbecues right on the hottest Saturday of the year, and right in the hand of a consumer when they’re most motivated - namely, getting ready to enjoy the sun.

Creating a native hybrid

Search the internet, and you will find lots of discussion on the avenues available when you develop an app - native, or web-based? Sometimes, though, necessity means its not an either/or scenario - you need both.

For Homebase, the high quality customer experience that is so critical to driving sales is best achieved with native technology. But one of the key commercial imperatives was the need for reusable code that could work across platforms. Since Homebase already made extensive use of IBM’s Mobile Foundation products, including WebSphere Portal and Worklight Foundation, the particular challenge for our team was how to combine this large and existing e-commerce ecosystem, which drew heavily on web technologies, with the best of native for a improved CX.

To achieve this, we developed a high performing native navigation core, offering speed and familiarity to users. This was combined with native and cross-platform features to strike the right balance between native UX and reusability.

The early days of Agile

The release of our app is just the start of the story. One of the most rewarding parts of our work is watching a product we build become a catalyst for broader transformational change.

Besides a stronger m-comm proposition, one of the burgeoning benefits of our work with Homebase has been the company’s growing understanding and commitment to Agile approaches and the value it brings, releasing higher quality products that better satisfy customer and business needs.

With proactive knowledge transfer and an ‘always on’ layer of education, our goal was to embed ourselves within Homebase and enable client-side teams to ‘learn by doing’. Regularly co-locating our teams, we have also actively fostered collaborative participation with user stories and backlog creation, helping to move client-side teams away from the disappointments of Waterfall projects.

Whether it’s through the introduction of new, more Agile tools or our informal ‘TAB Thursdays’ coaching sessions, we are looking forward to continuing to work alongside Homebase on their Agile journey.

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