Abel & Cole is a well known and much-loved brand that has helped to create and develop a delivery market for organic groceries and produce. To achieve its mission of making shopping sustainably easy, they started a journey to become a digital-first business.
We were asked to explore whether an app could create a more targeted and focused digital experience for both their existing and new customers, and also highlight ways to increase retention, cross-sell products and increase average order value (AOV).
We started with a customer survey to see which solution would be right to improve its digital service for better customer retention, with an app being the result decision.
From there we did a mystery shop to capture and contextually understand the service, and then mapped out the end-to-end experience to highlight opportunities for where an app could add value.
To answer this question, we launched a design sprint to identify the primary app proposition, understand what it needed to do and see what it could potentially look like.
Day one of the sprint was all about understanding. Collecting hopes and fears from the group and exploring the weekly routine of customers and how we might relieve key frustrations. Once we had identified our key themes, we used the propositions customers preferred from the survey as the starting point for our ideas.
By testing multiple propositions of the app we could focus on what the app would do as the core functionality now and tee up next and future functionality like personalisation and issue logging. We then rapidly prototyped each concept to accurately demonstrate the look and feel a native app might have, before testing the concepts with existing Abel & Cole customers and other ‘food box’ delivery customers who would consider switching.
What did we learn? An app would make it easier for customers to do more of what they currently do, with every participant responding positively to a new app proposition.
Working with the technical team at Abel & Cole we established a strategy that leveraged their current internal systems. Technical Due Diligence and a North Star ensured they had a vision and the right technical pillars in place for future development.
A decoupled architecture allowed both the app and website to take advantage of technical advances their internal team were making, with Code owning the delivery of the app and Abel & Cole owning the API and back-end development. This meant that the API was being driven by the experiences we wanted to deliver, and because it was being used in other ways by the business, it was built by the same people who would maintain it.
Using React let us build the product in a language that was more familiar and accessible to all engineers in the team, and gave us the option to launch for other platforms if required.
This paid off, as late on in development we established a legitimate need within the customer base to launch for Android at the same time, and were able to do so with only minor tweaks and changes.
As the introduction of the app could have had a fundamental impact on how customers behaved during their weekly shopping cycle, Abel and Cole were keen to understand how they could measure the impact of the app on their business metrics, such as revenue.
We first made the app accessible to staff users beforehand, which allowed fast feedback as we were developing in a pre MVP state. A product launch plan then followed with the app released to a small subset of interested users, allowing us to collect and analyse enough data before rolling it out to the app stores.
The most critical part of the plan was segmenting customers in a fair way to ensure that the results were robust and comparable. So, we asked existing Abel & Cole customers if they were interested in testing the app.
With this in place, we could compare key metrics across Segments A and B, with the certainty that we were comparing like-for-like customer intent and loyalty to the Abel and Cole brand.