Friday, 17 February 2012 17:39

Review: Woolworths App

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Woolworths app for iOS and Android now integrates with the company's online shopping service.

I tested the Woolworths app on an Android phone, with particular attention to the online shopping integration.

Woolworths App Android

When the app first came out, one of the key features was its ability to sort a shopping list into aisle order for a particular supermarket, which was a major convenience.

Lists are built by adding items either through a nested category system (eg, Hot & Cold Beverages/Long Life juice/Orange), or by free text search (eg, entering 'chux' returns a list of Chux products. There seems to be a significant amount of data traffic during this process, so you'd probably want to build your shopping list via a Wi-Fi connection rather than relying on wireless data (eg, while you're on the train).

When you look up a particular item, the app tells you if it is not available from the selected store. What it could usefully do (but doesn't) is tell you the nearest stores that do stock it.

Items can also be selected by scanning barcodes (eg, when you're getting near the bottom of a packet of corn flakes), but that was a bit hit and miss in my testing. I'm inclined to blame the smartphone's camera rather than the app, as it seemed to work more reliably under fluorescent light than daylight.

Page 2: Some frustrations

 


What I found particularly frustrating at first was that selecting a quantity of a product did not add it to the list, and the 'add to list' button doesn't appear unless you press the phone's fixed Menu button. Furthermore, each time you add an item you must specify which list is to be used, assuming you have more than one list. My inclination would be to have a list of things I buy most weeks - bread, milk and so on - and another for that week's purchases. So I'd prefer a separate 'select list' command to set the default, and then all the selected items would go to that list.

I'd also want to be able to merge one list with another as well as being able to copy items from one list to another - yes, you can select all and then copy, but that's an extra step.

The integration with Woolworths' online shopping worked reasonably well. You get the choice of ordering everything on the displayed list, or only those items that are ticked. The list is automatically uploaded to the mobile version of woolworthsonline.com.au.

An irritation with that site is that while you're required to pick a username when setting up the account, you can only login using your email address. For most of us, that's a lot more characters, and the less typing you do on a phone, the better. (Yes, you can have the site 'remember me', but I'm not comfortable with that for ecommerce applications.)

The next problem is that orders aren't necessarily filled by the store you nominated as yours (the app suggests the closest to your GPS location when you choose 'your' store), so it is possible that some items on your list will be rejected as unavailable. If you go back and modify your list, when you try Buy Online again, you're back at the login page seemingly regardless of how quickly you make the change. This might be a 'you're doing it the wrong way' problem, but surely you'd want to change the stored list in these circumstances?

I successfully placed an order (in the interests of full disclosure I'll point out that Woolworths provided a $25 voucher towards the cost), and it was filled accurately and delivered within the three-hour time window I nominated.

Page 3: Conclusions

 


In practice, small orders aren't viable. The minimum order is $30, and there's a $13 delivery fee if you spend less than $100. That drops progressively as the spend rises in $50 increments, with no charge for orders of $250 or more.

So the online shopping feature works quite well, and the aisle-sorted shopping list is a boon, though there are some interface issues with the app that could be improved.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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