Edcon mobile app delivers multilayered shopping experience

Local mobile application development company, 3fifteen Technology Solutions, and Edcon are set to revolutionise the retail shopping experience following the launch of the SmartShop mobile application, which delivers a multilayered retail experience for shoppers in store.
According to Priya Thakoor, project integration manager at Edcon, the clothing, footwear and textiles retailing group wanted to develop a functional mobile application that would empower its customers to make more informed purchasing decisions through improved customer service while in store.
“In the past, customers would have to look for an attendant to get help or information on a product, but they were not always immediately available,” she explains. “The SmartShop mobile app delivers all the information they need, such as pricing or the availability of different sizes, in real-time, to enhance their shopping experience. It is more than just a novelty application, as it delivers real value to our customers.”
Edcon partnered with 3fifteen to develop the bespoke application as the two companies have a long track record of technological innovation. “This made 3fifteen the ideal partner for the project,” explains Thakoor.
3fifteen initially developed the application on the iPhone platform, but has since launched Android, Microsoft Windows Phone and BlackBerry applications. “We initially identified that app up-take on iPhones is far higher than any other platform, so we developed the app for that platform first,” explains Tarkan Diraz, digital marketing manager at 3fifteen. “We also wanted to start with a platform that we knew could deliver a great user experience, as the iPhone user interface is so intuitive and easy to use. This also made it the ideal platform on which to test proof of concept; however, the app maintains its look, feel and ease of use across all four platforms.”
Diraz explains that there are three key components in the Edcon SmartShop app that delivers the multilayered user experience. “By using the phone’s camera to scan and read the bar code on a product, the app lets you check the price and look up stock in real-time to see what sizes are currently available in all stores. We achieve this by securely transferring data over various Web services that then talk to the back-end of the Edcon stock system. This gives users the ability to get information on exact stock levels, while integration with the phone’s GPS lets the app determine a user’s location, to serve up information on the closest stores that stock the item they are looking for.”
If the item is not in stock, the app also enables users to order stock via the existing Edcon FashionHotline system. “While this is not a full e-commerce platform yet, the app can put a request into the system, which triggers a whole cascade of events. For instance, if the item is not available, customer care will be notified to contact the customer to make alternative arrangements, but if there is stock, the item will be delivered to the user’s preferred store,” continues Diraz. “The consumer will receive an SMS when the item arrives and they can then go and collect and pay for it in store.”
According to Diraz, this functionality will eventually become a full e-commerce platform that will enable customers to search the full Edcon catalogue for products and purchase items, then have them delivered to their homes without the need to ever set foot in a store.
The third key component of the app lets customers view their account details. “Customers are able to log in with the same username and password that they currently use on the Edcon Web site, as we have securely married the two profiles,” says Diraz. “The app lets users view their instalments, and gives them their ‘Thank You Edcon’ loyalty points balance.”
Additional functionality includes Facebook integration – allowing users to upload details of specific items to the social network. “Users are also able to locate stores in their area from a drop-down tumbler and can then like their favourite stores on Facebook through the app.” The app gives users access to full contact details and maps and directions, if requested.
“While this may not be the first mobile application in the local retail sector, it definitely offers the most functionality and integration,” explains Thakoor. “Our main aim with this project was to prove that local consumers have the appetite to integrate mobile technology into the retail environment, to enhance their shopping experience. The robust initial up-take of the iPhone app, with minimal market support, supports this notion. As such, we are very confident that the adoption of the apps on the other platforms will be just as strong.
“There is more that can be done with this technology in the retail sector, so we will continue to look at other ways to provide more value to the buying experience through mobile technology. E-commerce is also growing rapidly in South Africa, which is why we wanted to get into the market in the early adopter phase and enhance the shopping experience for our tech-savvy customers,” she concludes.
The Edcon SmartShop application is available for free download from the Apple, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry app stores.

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