Ocado: view from the top, part 3 – mobile

Andrew Lord, Ocado’s Mobile Team Leader, talks technology and user experience at the online supermarket.
Home grocery delivery specialist Ocado is riding high; it recently revealed strong profit growth, a deal to sell its proprietary software platform overseas, and the launch of a funding drive to expand its capacity and further develop its software.

At Ocado’s heart is its operating solution, Ocado Smart Platform (OSP), which combines end-to-end software and technology systems with a physical fulfilment asset solution.

To find out more about how the technology and processes at Ocado are moving forward, Retail Connections spoke to three of its divisional managers.

In this third and final instalment, we speak exclusively to Mobile Team Leader, Andrew Lord, about Ocado’s focus on technology and user experience.

What is your role, Andrew?

I am a Mobile Team Leader at Ocado Technology, based in Hatfield, and I lead a team of six mobile developers across Android, iOS and back-end web-services. Our focus is on developing the Ocado and Morrisons shopping applications, introducing new features, fixing issues, and improving the existing experience for our users.

I spend my time preaching about code quality, continuous integration and delivery, automated testing and user experience. I am very passionate about coding, always trying to learn more, loving to use what I know and what I learn to make things easier for other developers.

What focus is Ocado placing on mobile technology?

Ocado has invested in mobile since the early days of the iPhone, and continues that tradition today with native application development in three development centres across Europe. In addition to that, we were the first company to launch a grocery retail app for the Apple Watch – and we aim to continue creating new and innovative user experiences for Ocado customers.

How do you bring a familiar user experience on Android and iOS?

This is something that is always a challenge for app developers and mobile UX designers. Currently, we start with platform-agnostic flows to make sure that the experience is familiar regardless of what platform you are using. We then create wireframes and prototypes for each platform (with the help of the platform’s design guidelines) and put it in front of real users.

This validates our ideas, and helps us catch any platform-specific behaviours we might not have taken advantage of. In general, we try to keep the core experience for the user consistent across the apps, with slight differences to cater for the platform. Maintaining consistency can be challenging, since it’s so easy to break – this is why we are currently creating a design language to help designers and developers deliver products that are consistent, faster.

This interview concludes our three-part series exploring Ocado’s modern approach to ecommerce fulfilment; read more in parts one and two.

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