Bestway creates app and joins high-tech project to revolutionise depot navigation

Bestway has launched a new smartphone app for retailers, which it says will “revolutionise” the retail experience for its customers.

The app, available free from Apple’s app store for all Bestway and Batleys customers, has a wide array of features including detailed product information and price updates on around 20,000 products.

The app also has the ability to allow the user to list and access favourite products, allows the retailer to use a barcode scanner for quick processing of large orders and a voice-to-text memo function. Customers can also locate their nearest depot and plot a route with an estimated arrival time; or book a delivery to their business – all via the app.

Bestway says it is expecting the app “to change purchasing patterns for customers while offering them more choice and convenience in how they shop.”

The wholesaler has also announced that it has joined a pioneering project to develop a ground-breaking “indoor navigation” system.

The wholesaler is part of a team of organisations, including Aston University, the University of Lincoln and mobile app developer RNF Digital Innovation (which also created the app described above), which have between them invested £202,000 into the project; with a further £500,000 cash injection from the Technology Strategy Board .

The navigation service will work on smartphones and tablets, using iBeacons [see below]across a range of businesses including wholesalers, supermarkets, hospitals and leisure parks, enabling the retailer to work out the quickest and most economical “shopping route” route at the depot and alerting them to offers and product updates on the way. It will also be able to combine users’ preferences and previous shopping behaviour with information about the depot they are visiting, to plan their unique experience in real-time and alerting them to points of interest (special offers, promotions and the like).

Of the app, Jamil Mohammed, group e-commerce manager at Bestway Group, said: “As a group we are working on a number of digital solutions to enhance the customer experience, of which our new app is a key part. We have been working on this for a significant length of time and I believe we have now developed one of the best apps in the wholesale sector, which sets a foundation on which to build future technologies.”

And commenting on the navigation system project he added: “This project represents a fantastic opportunity to take our consumer experience to a new level of interaction. By embracing iBeacon technology throughout our network of UK stores and depots, we will be able to offer our customers a unique retail experience.”

Dawood Pervez, marketing director of Bestway Wholesale added: “Digital is one of the growth pillars for the Bestway Group as we strive to further engage customers with our business and ensure Bestway Batleys adapts and leads as technology, and our industry, continues to evolve. Online sales through the group’s transactional websites are showing double-digit growth, of which 15% comes from new businesses, demonstrating that customers are now confident in using our online channels to purchase. The new app simplifies and enhances our web proposition and offers even more features in the palm of your hand.”

The app is available now, while the indoor navigation system project, including research and development, is scheduled to run over the next 18 months.

What is iBeacon?

iBeacon is Apple’s implementation of Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) wireless technology to create a different way of providing location based information and services to iPhones and other iOS devices. iBeacon arrived in iOS7, which means it works with iPhone 4s or later, iPad (third generation and onwards) iPad mini and iPod touch (fi fth generation or later).

The same BLE technology is also compatible with Android 4.3 and above. The “beacons” are small Bluetooth transmitters. Apps on an iPhone “listen out” for the signal transmitted by these beacons and respond accordingly when the phone comes into range. For example, if a retailer passes a beacon in a C amp;C depot, the retailer’s phone could display a special offer alert.

iBeacon is also a much better option for indoor mapping than GPS. Apple has been testing iBeacon since December last year in its US retail stores. Virgin Atlantic is also conducting trial of iBeacon at Heathrow airport, and Tesco and Waitrose have been testing it in selected stores.


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