Home Your Tech Mobility Woolies on a winner with iPhone app

Woolies on a winner with iPhone app

Woolworths' iPhone app shot straight to the top of the free apps chart at the App Store on the day of its release. "It's great seeing a big demand for this technology" said the executive responsible for the app.

For many of us, grocery shopping is a chore. One of the best ways of speeding it up is to list the things you need in the order that you traverse the store. The trouble is that supermarkets have a habit of moving things around - that might be a ploy to make us pass more shelves as we hunt for items, or it might be a side-effect of the way retailers charge suppliers for shelf space affects the space dedicated to particular categories.


One of the most attractive features of Woolworths new iPhone app is that it lets you enter a shopping list which it then presents in the aisle order of a specified store. This saves time and effort, especially when visiting an unfamiliar supermarket.

Has Fakira, innovation program manager at Woolworths Supermarkets, told iTWire that store layout changes are automatically reflected in the shopping list, and advance warnings are delivered when renovations are planned. Customers want to get in, pick up the items they want, and get out as quickly as possible, he explained.

The shopping list is at the core of the app, and it can be populated from the 800 included recipes, the week's catalogue specials, or targeted offers from the Everyday Rewards program.

Mr Fakira said a deliberate decision was made to present only the catalogue specials rather than a complete list of the week's specials, but there was still some debate about the amount of information customers can cope with. "We're going to listen to all the feedback," he said, whether that involves changes or new features.

"Overwhelming" response - see page 2.

Another way of adding an item to the shopping list is by using the iPhone (3GS or 4) camera to scan the barcode. This would be most useful if you carry your iPhone at all times, then you can scan the label as you take the last can of tomatoes from the cupboard.

Other features include a GPS-based store finder and the ability to see discount fuel vouchers associated with the user's Everyday Rewards card.

The response to the app was "overwhelming," said Mr Fakira, and it became the iTunes Store's top free app when it was released yesterday. "We're over the moon that we've had this kind of demand," he told iTWire.

The app was jointly developed by Woolworths and personal media specialist TigerSpike. "We've worked together really well to create a great product," said Mr Fakira.

Alex Burke, TigerSpike's managing director for the Asia Pacific region, said "In todays highly competitive and challenging retail environment it's vital that retailers tap into consumers changing media usage patterns. Personal media technology provides a closer connection to customers and drives loyalty in an age where people are shopping around."

"Integrated with Woolworths' core product and technology systems, TigerSpike has delivered location aware, time specific and personalised content in the Woolworths supermarkets mobile app," he added.

Listening to customers - see page 3.

The app underwent extensive testing during development, starting with customer user experience testing at the mock-up stage and culminating with "a small army of people testing it internally" before the public release.

"We took our time to understand what customers were saying," said Mr Fakira. And the involvement of the technology, marketing, retail operations and construction teams at Woolworths meant "this was a truly collaborative project" with strong buy-in from the retail business heads. The development of apps for other brands in the Woolworths family such as Big W or Dick Smith is under consideration.

"It almost tempts you to buy an iPhone," said one shopper on hearing about the app.



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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.