Paint manufacturer and wholesaler BOSS paints keep their finger on the pulse of the paint sector. They also want to tap into the digital evolution to take their professional customer contact to a higher level. BOSS paints have partnered with 3factr to develop an app that makes it easy for their professional customers to quickly order products.
BOSS paints have stood for outstanding paint quality as a manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer for professionals since 1943. They also supply a full line of products to 60 Colora shops – their retail store concept – and their entire production is good for about 3 million litres of paint per year. The family business can largely thank its success throughout the decades to their drive to always keep on top of the latest trends. Today, the winds of change are pushing towards digitization. BOSS paints have therefore chosen to pursue a new way of selling to their professional customers, via the BOSS paints order app.
BOSS paints turned to 3factr for the development of the app. Pure chance? Not at all. Our Xamarin team, 3factr, exactly has what BOSS paints were looking for: expertise in cross-platform app development. BOSS paints have their own in-house .NET expertise and can therefore take the further expansion of the app in their own hands, because both Xamarin and .NET works are based on the C# programming language. Moreover, development with Xamarin is faster than native development, making the choice easy.
It’s no coincidence that BOSS paints now uses a mobile app. On the one hand, they recognize that the new generation of professionals are technology minded. Those customers want to be able to place their orders via a smartphone, as they do for so many other purchases in their lives. On the other hand, the current web-based ordering platform relies on a technological environment that is gradually becoming outdated and that lacks adequate continuity and backup. The app provides a solution to both issues. In addition, it also improves efficiency: orders by telephone, fax and email are currently entered in a database manually. With the conversion to app orders, all data enters the database automatically and manual input is a thing of the past, saving time and improving data quality.
Of course, BOSS paints also retain the classic ways of ordering because they are very valuable. “When a professional is at a job site and urgently needs paint, telephone contact is still a good option. This also strengthens the personal contact, which is an excellent opportunity for cross-selling.” – Steven Verschelde, IT operations manager, BOSS paints.
Besides the development of the brand new order app, BOSS paints also wants to convert the existing advice app. For years now, their colour experts have been using this advice app, which makes paper colour samples mobile, enabling them to easily present all the colour advice at the customer’s location. The original app, for internal use, was developed by BOSS paints in house, for iOS only. Now, the paint manufacturer also wants to convert the app to a cross-platform environment with Xamarin to become technology-independent.
The scope of our task was both the BOSS paints order app and the advice app.
Before BOSS paints came knocking on our door, they did the necessary research themselves. Coincidentally, a few similar apps have just come on the market, but in the long run, BOSS paints is mainly looking at large webshops such as Bol.com and Amazon for inspiration regarding app structure. This structure must be as user-friendly as possible to make its usage intuitive for all professionals, young and old.
Moreover, BOSS paints wanted an MVP that meets all the basic needs of their professional customers. To this end, the BOSS team began by compiling a list of all the required features and data, keeping in mind their range of product offerings.
We then began development, with all this information at hand.
Design and front-end development were our job. BOSS paints already had a back-end for the existing advice app and web-based ordering platform. With a few minor modifications and the necessary APIs, we were able to link this back-end to the front-end of the new app.
We designed the app based on the BOSS paints website and some mock-ups provided by the BOSS team. In addition to the design, we were also responsible for the flow and user experience of the app: where the buttons are on the screen, how easily you navigate forward and backward through the app etc. We were given free reign to create the app as we saw fit, and the result was well received.
There were no major technical obstacles, just a few hurdles to be cleared. The logic behind the colour charts was quite challenging indeed. Each main colour is subdivided into many shades, each of which must be visible in a separate area. Where’s the challenge in that? The tricky part was ensuring that the user can easily view all the colours without having to swipe endlessly to other tabs or screens. Even when the user is looking for a colour using the search function, the results should open in the same tab rather than in a separate window, as so often happens. Experience has shown that a less than optimal user experience leads many users to quickly uninstall an app. Fortunately, there was already a colour configurator in the internal advice app, so we had something to work from. The result is a clear overview of the colours and shades, which you can scroll between. From there you can easily order, using a login you receive as a BOSS paints customer.
The collaboration between BOSS paints and 3factr was very smooth. Our developer, Filip, worked on site, so he could consult with the back-end developers very quickly when a change was needed. BOSS paints are satisfied with the styling and our solutions and were pleasantly surprised by the hands-on approach to knowledge transfer.
“Filip built the order app entirely on his own, but he used the conversion of the advice app from iOS to UWP (Universal Windows Platform) as an opportunity to introduce our senior .NET developers to Xamarin. While Filip developed one screen, our developers started working on other screens. That way we got a real time hands-on training that also produced practical results. Now a number of our own staff have the knowledge to make any necessary future changes to the apps.” – Steven Verschelde, IT operations manager, BOSS paints.
In the final stage, BOSS paints rolled out the BOSS paints order app to 25 customers for beta testing. The app was approved and went live on 4 March 2019, accompanied by communication to all the professional customers so that they were properly informed.
BOSS paints were completely satisfied with this extra, lasting added value to their ordering process. The app will make the lives of many professional customers easier and will eventually become a fully-fledged product service.
“We want the app to become a new means of communication and already have some optimizations and new features in mind. One of the many functions we want to implement is a contact form or a chat box, through which the user can also send photos. And a place where you can view invoices and track orders. We are brainstorming with our B2B and sales departments about exactly which features we want to roll out. Development purely for the sake of development was never our intention. We want the app to provide true added value.” – Steven Verschelde, IT operations manager, BOSS paints.
We have every confidence that it will!