With the explosive growth of ecommerce and digital channels, intensified by the pandemic, the need for seamless and consistent customer experience online has never been greater.
Coles Group Limited operates some of Australia’s largest retail chains, including their flagship supermarket chain and household name, Coles. The parent company also operates hundreds of convenience and liquor stores, each with its own brand and customer-facing online channel, which offers users unique experiences, built using different technologies.
Their vision is to have a single customer view enabled by a centralized login service and portal to allow them to better understand a customer and to provide a personalized and consistent brand experience across all of their channels in the future.
In taking a step closer towards this vision, Coles partnered with Thoughtworks on a tightly scheduled four month project to develop a new customer profile management portal on the Coles app with the ability for a customer to view and edit their profile as a minimum viable product.
We were delighted to partner with Thoughtworks to create a delivery solution that was successfully deployed in record time. Thanks to the team’s efficiency and dedication, customers could manage their Coles customer profiles from within the Coles app for the first time. Thoughtworks helped transform our vision for the Coles app into a reality by facilitating the development and roll out of a new customer profile management portal.
This is the first project that Coles and Thoughtworks have collaborated on to create Indigenous employment outcomes in the digital space and it brings a new element to the partnership. With approximately 4,700 Indigenous team members, Coles is one of Australia’s largest private sector employers of Indigenous peoples in Australia.
With a shared commitment to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organizations, Thoughtworks’ newly formed First Nations Delivery Centre - a local, distributed team staffed mainly by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander technologists - was brought onto this project with the support of Coles.
Coles has a proud history of taking action and forming strong relationships with the Indigenous community, and that commitment extends to ensuring that we continue to grow our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team member representation and support Indigenous suppliers. Partnering with Thoughtworks to develop a technology team staffed 50% by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander technologists was a first for us, and demonstrates how we’re increasing Indigenous participation in our supply chain.
Established in 2019, this new delivery team strengthens Thoughtworks’ commitment to nurture talent and create software career opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, going beyond existing internship and graduate programs. By making the team 100% remote, Thoughtworks is able to provide opportunities for people living anywhere, especially those living on- or near-Country.
It is not necessary to move to a major hub like Sydney or Melbourne in order to build a successful career in technology. We have the ability to support technologists in remote locations without insisting people leave their Country or community, and this project is evidence of that. Connection to Country is crucial for our wellbeing and integrity of our cultures, and also gives us the opportunity to build a new era of technology led by Indigenous thinking.
Source: Coles website
To deliver this program of work in time for Coles’ busiest trading periods, the Thoughtworks team had to quickly onboard and adopt a lean approach to product development. Thoughtworks worked closely alongside Coles’ design and development team to craft a minimum viable product that would deliver value for customers and be deployed within the short timeframe.
Thoughtworks joined the project after the user journey had been developed, but worked proactively with Coles to help take this from concept to reality. Where other partners might take designs as specs (where every change equals a change request), Thoughtworks took Coles’ design vision and pragmatically turned it into something actionable.
Together, the team considered which elements of a customer profile would be the most valuable for a user, yet challenging from a delivery perspective. The team prioritized the password, which requires complex authentication and security validation and is also a critical attribute to the customer experience.
The application was deployed on Microsoft Azure, one of the newer technologies that Coles is exploring, and is part of a growing number of solutions deployed fully on the Cloud in the organization.
The new version of the Coles app was launched successfully and in time for the busy holiday retail period in December 2020. For the first time, customers can manage their customer profiles within the Coles app. Since its launch, there are about 500,000 customers who are using the new version of the app, and over 30% of customers have opted in to personalize their experience, using the new set of services that were built as part of this engagement. This project also helped Thoughtworks validate their First Nations delivery model and brought a new element and way of working to a growing, long term partnership with Coles.