Product Strategy

Building an organic food delivery app for Abel & Cole

How might we help people maintain a healthier and happier way of eating?

  • Client

    Abel & Cole

  • Services

    Design and Build, App Development, API Integration, Art Direction, Technical Due Diligence, North Star

  • Methods

    Design Sprints, Qualitative & Quantitative Research, User Testing, Rapid Prototyping


Creating an app that promotes a healthier and happier way of eating

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). 


Introducing a new customer experience

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. 


How might an app improve CX?

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. 

This allowed us to flesh out propositions based on perceived user needs and generate solutions to the themes we had identified and ideas we wanted to take forward.

We refined each of the prioritised ideas and found ways to link them together in a prototype.

By testing multiple propositions of the app and working out what resonated with their customers, we could focus on what the app would do as the core functionality now and tea 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. 

Once the prototype was finished, we tested the concepts with existing Abel & Cole customers and other ‘food box’ delivery customers who would consider switching to gain insight into how an app might affect customer behaviour.

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.


Built with modern, scalable technology

We then started a close working relationship with the technical team at Abel & Cole, establishing a strategy that leveraged their current internal systems. 

Technical Due Diligence and a North Star process followed, which 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.

Although the brief was to launch on iOS, we made the decision to not build a native iOS app, and instead use React Native.

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. 


Measuring the right thing

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. 

We then split out the “Yes” responses into two segments:

  •   Segment A: Customers who were interested in the app and were given access to the app
  •   Segment B: Customers who were interested in the app but were NOT given access to 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. 

We also ran a satisfaction survey with the same users to gain qualitative insight to support what we were seeing in the data and the hypothesis of it being a highly functional app.

Want to look at the role of an app for your market and customers?

We can help you uncover the right purpose for an app in the overall customer experience and validate the business case. 

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