Getting your business into digital channels is vital: that’s no secret. However, there’s more to it than just being available on the right platforms. It’s also about offering a way for customers to interact with the business in a satisfying manner that takes full advantage of the potential.
Here, we want to talk about our work with one such company that took the initiative to update their mobile solutions just in time for the recent crisis: Green Gorilla. Together, we launched a brand new mobile app to enable customers to place orders online – and still retain all the benefits of Green Gorilla’s traditional business model, such as loyalty points – during a time when digital channels became the premier necessity for continued business.
Green Gorilla & The Need To Go Mobile
One of the most famous café chains in Switzerland, Green Gorilla operates in Geneva, Lausanne and, soon, Zurich. The company previously had a mobile application that they had little control over (and wasn’t popular with their customer-base) so, when COVID-19 changed the landscape for how businesses operate, they knew they needed to develop online channels to support their more traditional outlets.
It was this urgent requirement that led the organization to approach Unity Group for assistance. In a short amount of time, this digital journey led not to just a mobile app for placing orders online, but also an in-built loyalty program and the ability to merge both online and offline transactions – everything organizations like Green Gorilla need to succeed in today’s difficult times.
Due to the current situation around the world, our restaurants are closed – we respect the rule of social distance. Fortunately, we have been able to establish contact with Unity Group, who have helped us to develop our unique and customized application to ensure our customers can continue using our products – by placing an order in the application and receiving it at one of our shops. Throughout the whole application design process, many new ideas have emerged, which allowed us to see further opportunities to develop our business and increase revenues.”
Johan Jakobsson – Partner at The Goodlife Company Sarl
Many organizations have found themselves in this simple but drastic situation: adapt quickly, or risk losing revenue or – worse – perish entirely. This was the situation that Green Gorilla found themselves in. They had numerous stores, a loyal fanbase but no satisfying way to engage with them in a non-traditional manner.
The Initial Challenge
Every company – and every project – is unique, which is why we had to meet Green Gorilla’s unique requirements. For this application, there were a number of objectives that the company wanted to meet:
- First of all, the app’s main purpose is to enable users to place orders online for offline collection.
- To enable convenience, this had to support a fast digital payment method, pairing C&C with the application.
- A loyalty system was also needed to increase company loyalty – ensuring repeat purchases was vital for the current situation.
- The solution needed to be as efficient as possible: to avoid standing in line, as much as possible can be done in-app and off-site on the user’s end.
- As part of both this and Green Gorilla’s continued eco-friendly initatives, users were also able tochoose whether they required disposable cutlery, enabling customers to make environmentally-friendly choices with every order.
Starting from 0
Due to the pandemic and the subsequent need to change business models, the application had to be developed in a relatively short time. The initial proposal for both the MVP and Sprint 0 were presented on March 9th and, thanks to the knowledge of our experts and the trust given to us from Green Gorilla, we started work the very next day.
Finally, on June 3rd, the project went live in both the App Store and Google Play.
Typically, the initial planning sessions can take several weeks in themselves. However, due to the need to improve their digital channels as quickly as possible – and using our extensive expertise in these areas – we were able to complete Sprint 0 in just 5 days. Even in such a short time span, we succeeded in:
- Clarifying the vision, concept and functional scope of the system.
- Reviewing and identifying the best technological options – more on that later!
- Verifying the software and API requirements, especially for payments.
- Preparing an initial design work backlog.
- Prioritizing (via the MoSCoW method) and adapting the project schedule to Green Gorilla’s specific business requirements.
- Defining screen-flow and project expectations.
- Determining the scope of the MVP.
Many of the above tasks can be quite extensive and daunting in themselves. However, because the project was handled by experienced and versatile experts – able to immediately understand the client’s business objectives – this entire process was able to be accelerated without compromising the finer, important details. Needless to say (but we’re going to say it anyway), this is crucial when the product needs to be available very quickly.
Making Technology Choices
Of course, Spring 0 also involved a decision making process and this is another area that can often increase a project’s timeframe.
Again, because of our experience in commerce transformation, as well as modern mobile technologies, we were able to make some key strategic decisions very quickly, with complete confidence that they would work!
- We quickly choose React Native to help develop 2 native-esque applications quickly. We’re familiar with the framework, so we knew it could easily enable us to create interfaces that are near-indistinguishable from native applications. What’s more, they support notifications on both mobile platforms, are highly secure, very stable and easy to work with. In short – great for medium and large-scale mobile projects such as this!
- In terms of additional coding languages, we turned to a well supported option that we’re highly familiar with: Java. In times like this, it helps to play to your strengths where you can. Java is a great language that works well here, so the choice was very clear for us – especially as we weren’t restricted by any additional compatibility issues.
- As for hosting, we have experience as an AWS partner, so we could readily use the Cloud platform to its fullest potential for ease of hosting without any performance related issues.
We’ve always believed that technology is an enabler that drives the final solution forward, so all of our decisions are made with this pragmatic, result-focused philosophy in mind.
The new application contains a number of useful features for both Green Gorilla’s customers and employees, fulfilling all essential needs. It’s user friendly, supports multiple locations and, ultimately, provides a new digital channel for the business.
For customers, there are a number of vital features that make the application a go-to method for ordering digitally:
- Click & Collect – customers can also purchase café products with selected accessories (“extras”) depending on individual preferences in the mobile application, in addition to collecting the order personally in the selected restaurant at a convenient time. The m-commerce menu supports the full range, including the option of sugar-coated products/dishes.
- Payments – the application has the ability to connect the customer’s debit/credit card, so the payment process is as automated as possible and is not perceived by the customer. It’s also possible to order previous purchases with only a few clicks.
- Dedicated Loyalty System – Green Gorilla’s customers automatically accumulate loyalty points with the option to exchange them for products in the company’s cafes, all via the application. It is also acts as a form of ‘loyalty card’ for offline purchases, enabling users to calculate their loyalty points using QR codes.
While all of the above are essential for ensuring a user-friendly solution that works well with Green Gorilla’s established brand, we also needed to consider backoffice features to help the company itself. To this end, the app also supports:
- Employee accounts for individuals.
- The ability to easily update product pricing, descriptions and even availability.
- Emerging orders directly from the mobile application.
- Loyalty points, calculated by scanning customers’ QR codes and supporting offline purchases within the scheme as well.
So, What Did We Learn From All This?
Despite the high demand for a quick transformation in today’s current climate, there’s no room to cut on quality or scope. Green Gorilla is the perfect example of this.
The organization needed a new app, but their requirements were still complex. Both users and the business itself expected a range of functionalities, so very little could be left out of the MVP.
No project will be completed overnight but, with an experienced team, it’s possible to speed up this process without compromising on this essential quality. Our familiarity with applications and commercial transformation enabled us to speed up the initial sprint and planning phase.
Of course, MVPs are only the beginning: they are the essential product that includes everything the company and its customers need to interact digitally. However, future needs might shift, grow or otherwise change, so it’s important to keep adaptability in mind.
Are you interested in starting a similar application and getting your business better acquainted with modern digital channels? Contact us to learn how we can help!