Dutch variety store-chain HEMA has one of the largest loyalty programs in the Netherlands. Millions of people fanatically save points. Together with HEMA and Fabrique, we built a new app in which this loyalty program is combined with e-commerce: a native shop aimed at maximum conversion, stability and speed. Of course with the typical HEMA simplicity. After all, such a beautiful brand with such loyal fans deserves the most beautiful app of the Netherlands!
A team of specialists
At Q42 we strongly believe in the principle of cobbler stick to your last. We are specialists: we build apps and websites and other digital products. We are always looking for the sharpest cutting edge of new technology and optimal experience for the end user. So we are mainly builders. But builders with a heart for the end user.
As usual for us, we also sought collaboration with other specialists for this assignment: in this case Fabrique for the design and Polteq for testing. Fabrique was previously involved in designing the HEMA website and as an e-commerce specialist is unprecedented in design for optimal brand experience and conversion. Polteq has been our loyal partner for years when it comes to systematic and thorough testing of apps and sites. Their software testers are almost annoyingly good at finding edge cases and bugs. Exactly what you want from an app for such a renowned brand with so many active users.
The loyalty app
First we renewed the loyalty app. It went live without any problems in April 2020. The improvements were mainly in the stability and speed of the app. But of course there was also room for a solid UX and features that make everyday use more fun and easier, such as the scoreboard for your points. Or the smoked sausage animation shown as a loader.
After that, the focus shifted to the shopping part. The app's store tab used to link to the HEMA website. While it works fine, you can make the shopping experience many times more friendly and engaging. How? By really allowing shopping to take place in the app.
With an e-commerce app, the focus is of course on optimal conversion. For the user, this means above all: fast, seamless transitions and a very logical UX. You achieve this by staying as close as possible to the interaction patterns of the native OS. The choice to build native iOS and Android apps was therefore an easy one. In order to remain optimally agile, we introduced the principle of server driven UI.
Server driven UI
Server driven UI combines the best of both worlds: native UX quality with the speed and flexibility of cross platform. In other words: the optimal functioning of separate native applications coupled with the ease of hybrid development. In this setup, a so-called 'Backend for Frontend' (BFF) is built. That is a layer behind the Android and iOS app where all logic resides, from business logic to UI components. The apps are therefore relatively 'dumb' in this constellation. They render what the server tells them.
The big advantage
The big advantage is that changes to the two apps (Android and iOS) only need to be made in one central place: namely in the BFF. This also means that adjustments can be made to the apps without the need for a new release. A huge benefit for optimization, such as A / B testing.
In this way the app developers can focus on what they do best: implementing a high-quality UI that seamlessly integrates with the OS, while others worry about implementing complex business logic.
Q42 is at the forefront of server driven UI. We already implemented this in the Primephonic app in 2018. Since then, we have been using this approach more and more, also with existing apps such as those of PostNL.
The native shopping part of the HEMA app focuses on user-friendliness with the characteristic HEMA simplicity. Much attention has been paid to the fast and smooth loading of long product pages, but also to selecting a product in a specific size and color, for example. In addition, frequently requested functionalities, such as a favorites list, have been added.
Increase in conversion and appreciation
The result is impressive: a beautiful app, easy to use and, at first sight, wonderfully simple. And that works! Since the launch, the number of active users increased to over 800,000 per month, conversion grew and we have seen the appreciation of the HEMA fan reflected in the app store ratings. That's what we do it for!
And no, of course we are not done yet. In fact, it is only now starting. Together with HEMA, we will look very closely at what the app does in the real world, how users react to it and what happens in the conversion tunnels. We then optimize with the 'validated learning' method. The server driven UI setup is going to help us enormously!
The HEMA app won a golden Dutch Interactive Award in 2021. The DIA are the prizes for the very best interactive online work by Dutch agencies and have been awarded annually since 2010. The HEMA app received the award in the E-commerce category. The jury praised the high quality and innovative technology of the app.
"The jury awards the gold assessment to a technically advanced case in which innovative new technology is used. The result is impressive and has been brought more on par with what the customer is used to from the major global platforms. These are great steps for a very strong brand."
Jury report Dutch Interactive Awards 2021