Republished from NZRetail's June 2014 issue.
The Warehouse customers can browse The Warehouse's entire online catalogue through an app that lives on their smartphones. Customers can login or register for a ‘Your Warehouse’ account and make purchases directly from their mobile phones − with the option to deliver to a home address. With a user account, customers can save goods to a personal wish-list and choose to receive notifications when that product goes on sale.
All special offers are conveniently grouped in one place and sorted by category. Featured campaigns are visible on the main screen. In addition to powerful search and easy navigation, the app also features an innovative barcode scanner to check for product pricing, information and alternative colours.
When a customer visits a competing store − to look at a product also available on The Warehouse's online catalogue − the customer can scan the competing product's barcode to retrieve The Warehouse's listing and compare pricing on the spot.
The state of retail
Ubiquitous internet and a proliferation of mobile devices have certainly shaken things up. The numbers are in and no one is surprised by the results − least of all retailers. Overseas-based online retailers have been devouring domestic sales across all manner of categories. Online sales volumes from offshore retailers amount to almost half of all New Zealand’s online purchases (Baker & Bridle, 2014).
Forward-thinking retailers are finding ways to stay ahead of the queue − seeking innovative means of connecting directly with customers and diversifying how they engage with them. Smartphone users account for more than 50 per cent of New Zealand consumers. A further 74 per cent, or roughly 1,387,4001, of these always connected, smartphone-toting shoppers, ‘have researched a product or service on their phones before making a purchase’ (Albertson & McDonald, 2013).
However, there are some areas where physical retail spaces are still winning. BNZ points out that Saturdays and Sundays have shown to be prime days for bricks-and-mortar sales − starkly contrasting online sales which tend to plummet drastically on the weekend. Furthermore − despite a gloomy perception − domestic retail has continued to grow with Statistics New Zealand noting an overall gain of 1.2% over last year (MacPherson, 2014).
Meanwhile, BNZ reports that domestic online sales have increased by five per cent since last year. Could it be a sign that New Zealand retailers are fighting back? If so, how are they doing it?
A multi-channel approach
Don’t put all your eggs in one shopping basket. ‘Your Warehouse’ demonstrates how an app can be part of a multichannel business strategy to target new markets and generate new opportunities. Retail technology and apps are extremely popular overseas.
Kiwis were so enthusiastic about an app for The Warehouse that within two days of the launch it had risen to the top spot on the New Zealand App Store. ‘Your Warehouse’ reached 10,000 downloads within its first two weeks of launch.
Mark Powell, CEO of The Warehouse Group, shared his belief “that by challenging traditional shopping conventions, we are offering our customers an unmatched retail experience.” Powell added that “it is exciting to be able to offer our customers this revolutionary shopping tool.”
In a recent interview with TV One News after the launch of ‘Your Warehouse’, Mark Johnston, CEO of the New Zealand Retailers Association, extolled the benefits of mobile technology in retail and its ability to help smaller outfits “to play catch-up.” Johnston noted: “50 per cent of online access is now via mobile phones and tablets − and it’s really up to retailers to meet that customer demand by being able to offer online shopping and mobile apps.”
Sush Mobile’s strategic technologies roadmap and integration planning exercise (STRIPE) answers the question: what's next? It helps CIOs or mobile delivery teams to navigate future amendments, integration, distribution, management, expansion and additions of mobile solutions. By establishing business requirements early on, Sush Mobile is able to set realistic objectives and help plan for future iterations to be carried out − in weekly, fortnightly or monthly sprint cycles. STRIPE is a great way for retailers to get a clear assessment and the scope of the mobile development process and to plan their innovation journey.