Cognitive Commerce

How I Helped Design an App That Puts Data to Work for Boots UK

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In 2015, I had an amazing opportunity to go with a team from Boots UK to the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, to help design a new IBM MobileFirst for iOS app for iPad that would help me and my colleagues better serve our customers.

I work in a Boots store in Norwich, England, as a Customer Assistant, and had been supporting the development of the new colleague app already by joining focus groups and usability research. As a devoted Apple user with the latest iPhone and multiple iPads, being given this opportunity to go to the heart of the company was a real pinch-me moment. My husband and fellow Apple devotee was more than a little jealous.

I traveled to California with the omnichannel proposition team from the Boots Head Office to help the IBM design team to understand my daily challenges when interacting with our Boots customers and the average workday on the shop floor. Witnessing how together with the Boots team, my feedback and that from other Boots colleagues at focus groups was transformed into the IBM MobileFirst for iOS Sales Assist app was a brilliant experience.

In my opinion, the most valuable thing I championed during that initial design session was the information button, which puts information on each product quickly and readily accessible from the iPad. Now I can provide customers with any product details from anywhere in the store or on

Previously, if a customer asked me for more product information, I had to rely on what was printed on the box, which was limited in detail. It also meant that I’d have to physically be holding the product, making it difficult to help a customer in the electronics section, for example, purchase the new shampoo they just remembered they needed.

I explained this to the design team and, together, we came up with the information button.

I expect the new app will prove particularly helpful during busy times like the holidays and back to school. The Boots store in Norwich’s Chapelfield shopping centre, where I work, is incredibly busy with customers buying Christmas gifts.

We also run a lot of promotions and specials during this time, with products selling out quickly. With the Sales Assist app, we’ll be able to work with a customer right on the shop floor to find what they want and any promotions that they can access. If the product they need has sold out or isn’t in the store, we can see if it’s available in another Boots store nearby, or place the order via to be delivered to a store of their choice the next day.

From my time in Cupertino up until today, I’m amazed by how our initial design conversation influenced the entire layout and flow of the app and how we engage with individual customers every day. Having mobile access to the product search and information button makes me an expert on the thousands of products available at Boots – which is incredibly important given 90 percent of consumers leave stores without making a purchase if they can’t find the help they need.

Today, I’m prouder than ever to be an ambassador for the Boots brand.

Customer Assistant, Boots UK

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