Using smart E-commerce technology to fuel the "shop smarter" brand
Countdown's owners Progressive Enterprises are undoubtedly
focused on leading the way when it comes to operating a
customer-driven business. Thus, when the decision was made in late
2010 to gradually phase-out the Woolworths and Foodtown brands in
favour of a unified, 'next-generation' Countdown brand, it was a
given that Countdown would make the move to where its sister brands
had been for over 10 years - online.
Ever since they began selling groceries online, Progressive have
understood that the more user-friendly their sites, the more
visitors will make the decision to buy - and this notion drives all
development decisions. User feedback is genuinely sought from
call-centres and other sources, to inform decision makers on both
potential, and already made feature additions.
Such information had a lot to do with what went into Countdown
online (and the corresponding updates for Woolworths and Foodtown
online) says Adam Hudson, Progressive's National Online Manager.
The new features are all about making the online shopping
experience even easier and faster and therefore encouraging online
grocery shopping to become a regular, more normal thing, says Adam.
"There's no bleeding edge stuff here. It shouldn't be fringy or
Olympic - the E-commerce smarts behind 'shop smarter'
As with any successful technology story, the success really
comes from the vision and partnership of the people behind it.
Progressive have filtered their mind-set of continuous improvement
though to the partnership with Olympic. Their National Online team
works with Olympic on an on-going basis - from gathering
requirements, to enabling incorporation of feedback on the fly, to
implementation - ensuring best outcomes can be achieved for their
business and their customers.
The solution created by Olympic, includes a couple of key
components that provide the foundation for Adam's vision of 'even
easier and faster'.
The first is the use of AJAX technologies, which allows shoppers
to stay on one page while sections of information around them
change. This ensures browsing through the massive number of grocery
items is simple, intuitive and fast.
Secondly, smarter use of shopping recency and frequency
information provides shoppers with an experience described as the
site "subtly knowing" what you are looking for, says Simon Chapman,
Olympic's Solution Architect. This information is a combination of
offline history attained via the loyalty "Onecard" database, and
online shopping history. What this translates to, is an
auto-generated "My Favourites" section for every shopper - no user
setup required - again, shopping becomes easier and faster.
Building from the sites' last iteration, the smart use of
information from the Onecard database helps the all-important
targeting and nurturing of first-time users. If they have a
Onecard, they will have a comprehensive "My Favourites" section on
first use of the site. Personalised service doesn't get much
Various other features were fine-tuned to help further enhance
the ease of use for shoppers. One many have noted as useful, is the
constantly updated running total of items in the 'trolley' - vital
for those shopping on a budget. With switches to a cheaper brand or
a smaller size being quick and easy,this is a great example of the
advantages of shopping online.
Facilitating the 'smart shopper'
There has been double digit growth in online shopping for
Progressive over the past year, particularly since October 2010,
when the website went live. Use of the website has grown "beyond
our expectations" Adam Hudson says. Shop faster is the underlying
theme and it does seem to be working as the average amount of time
people spend shopping on the site has dropped.
"Online shopping is convenient. Customers using our service tend
to be time-poor and value the convenience and time saving that
comes with shopping from home," Adam says.
Families with children like the site. It's "popular with parents
with small children. It helps them avoid 'pester power' for toys or
treats and those potential toddler tantrums."
It's also popular with businesses running canteens, those with
mobility difficulties, parents organising food parcels to be
delivered to their beloved students and holidaymakers wanting fresh
food waiting for them at their destination or when they return
Adam believes the site and how it speaks of the brands general
commitment to listening and continuously enhancing the customer
experience, had its small part to play in Countdown's recent
accolade of "Most Trusted Supermarket" in the 2011 Reader's Digest
Trust Survey. It's no doubt that when convenience is of importance,
Countdown is a well-recognised market-leader.
The next aim for the site is enhancing interaction. Let them
shop fast, but give them an enriching experience. This is a work in
progress, with a growing Recipe section currently available and
fully integrated into the shopping process. Social media enrichment
plans are well underway too, along with an exciting mobile
- Progressive Enterprises, the owners of Countdown, want to
provide an online shopping experience for Countdown customers a
step above that which Foodtown and Woolworths' customers have seen
develop over the last 10 years.
- Close development work between Olympic Software and Progressive
Enterprises quickly progresses feedback to features.
- AJAX technologies, clever use of recency and frequency tracking
and the Onecard database, enable offline and online shopping
coordination, for intrinsic Favourites and an enhanced
user-interface for both new and returning online shoppers.
- Time, mobility or location challenged shoppers are able to
easily shop with New Zealand's most trusted Supermarket brand.
- Exciting enrichment plans are on the horizon.