We’re looking for an app team that’s on fire
Behind the scenes

We’re looking for an app team that’s on fire

Pictures: Thomas Kunz
Translation: Eva Francis

Our mobile app isn’t exactly a hit with users. This has to change. A new, interdisciplinary Scrum team that knows how to inspire the Digitec Galaxus Community has set out to make this happen. Product owner Zara and engineering team leader Michael know what’s on the roadmap for the eager developer crew – and what isn’t.

You’re not happy with the many bad ratings our shopping app has received. Is the lack of stars justified?
Zara: Yes, all ratings are honest and unfiltered. That's what we love about our Community. Our users set the bar high for Digitec Galaxus. For example, Android-Gemcommented: «Really? Digitec Galaxus has a turnover of over 1 billion but the app is a website?» Of course, such a rating gives my product owner heart a twinge. Yet, at the end of the day, I want to make our app users happy. If this means enduring some pain here or there, I’m fine with that.

Michael: I agree. Most users have a fair point when they criticise our app. At the moment, there’s no clear added value compared to our online shops. By the way, my favourite rating was given by user Fanilson from the French-speaking part of Switzerland: «Digitec qui propose du Webview c’est un peu comme un vigneron qui propose une dégustation dans des verres en carton...Le Webview est horriblement lent et de plus pas adapté pour une boutique en ligne». In English: «Digitec offering Webview is a bit like a winemaker offering a tasting in paper cups...Webview is horribly slow and not suitable for an online shop.»

Photos: Thomas Kunz – Digitec Galaxus
Photos: Thomas Kunz – Digitec Galaxus

But hey, drinking wine from paper cups doesn’t automatically mean you’ll wake up with a headache the next day. But Fanilson’s comparison is likely to make the former app team feel hungover. How are we planning to elevate the app into the year 2022?
Zara: When we launched our apps at the end of 2016, our customers were happy and interested. After a few years without a dedicated app team and without making any significant developments, it’s understandable that the ratings plummeted. For example, the Apple community resented the fact that the app didn’t work properly with the iPhone X at times – and rightly so. Since last year, team «Isotopes» has been in charge of the apps, along with various other topics. Of course we know that our users expect more from us than just a Webview and that we have to include native elements. We’ve already started working on this. The new LiveShopping widgets that our iOS pirate Michael developed are a perfect example. And there’s more to come.

Michael: It’s a classic chicken and egg dilemma: back in the day when we had no significant traffic on the app, it was difficult to get hold of the necessary developer resources to work on it. However, without improvements, the chances of increasesing app traffic also drop. Today, a significant amount of our traffic and revenue originates from users on mobile devices. So there's a great urgency to adapt our apps to the mobile community's needs.

This sounds like you’re starting from scratch. Has the new app crew gone back to the drawing board?
Zara: Yes and no. The current Digitec Galaxus apps have huge potential. The new developers we’re looking for will shape the roadmap to their liking and will be free to prioritise the features our Community wants to see. Our goal is to multiply app users by 2022.

Michael: We’re not starting from scratch, but building on the foundation we’ve already created. At first, the team will continue to work with the current Webview and add as many native features as possible. After that, we’ll think about which parts of the app should be native. In this respect, the team will have free rein to discuss questions such as: What adds the most value for our customers? Which features do our users want the most? What technologies are we interested in and which innovation are we really keen on?

Michael Sommerhalder: when it comes to improving the app, the team decides what to work on next.
Michael Sommerhalder: when it comes to improving the app, the team decides what to work on next.

Hand on heart: what would your perfect DG app be?
Zara: I'd like the app to let me do everything I like doing on digitec and Galaxus – as personalised as possible would be great. To give you an example, I’d like to get a push notification as soon as a cool product is on offer on the resale platform. Or I’d like my collection invite for the Zurich store to pop up in on the app drive-through when I cycle past the store.

Michael: In any case, the app must run faster than the Webview. Sorting or filtering long lists and reloading images mustn’t to interrupt the flow. In terms of behaviour, I find searching, comparing and purchasing the most important functions. I want these to be quick and easy processes. Provide me with push notifications about changed delivery times or prices of products in my watch list and I'm happy. Almost. Having the option to put together my own landing page and hide everything that isn’t of interest to me would be even cooler. And should the day come when I can take a photo of a product in a shop and the app tells me whether this product is available at the same price or for less on Digitec Galaxus, that would be my personal icing on the app cake.

When do you want the new app to be completed? Yesterday, I’m guessing.
Zara: An app is never complete. On the one hand, the Community has many wishes we want to implement. Push notifications or fingerprint login are currently at the top of the list. On the other hand, new trends keep emerging from the app world. Mobile wallets, wearables, geolocation or biometrics are some of them we’d like to try out.

Michael: I can only agree. The app, just like all our other products, will never be «complete». This reminds me of many job interviews I've had with candidates who’d ask: «Why do we need more than 200 product developers, the shop works just fine the way it is, doesn't it?» There will always be something new to make the user experience even better, simpler and more intuitive. The annual iOS/Android updates are just one example that opens up new possibilities for us to give the app a makeover.

What skills do developers need to have to be a great match for Digitec Galaxus?
Zara: Our engineers need to be curious. Depending on the feature, the app team has many points of contact with other departments such as Customer Service, Logistics, Marketing or the Online Shop Area.

Michael: It’s useful to be familiar with Swift or Kotlin and the respective standard frameworks. For iOS, these would be Foundation, UIKIt and WebKit. WidgetKit or AppCenter are a welcome extra. For Android, it would be ViewData/LiveData, Room, Coroutines and Gradle. No matter which operating system it is: GraphQL know-how is always a plus.

And what team spirit should future team members be into?
Zara: We’re looking for an app team that’s on fire, is pragmatic and willing to experiment. «Piratesque» is a unique Digitec Galaxus company value that we live by every day. We’re looking for people who are willing to experiment with bold features and find straightforward solutions.

Michael: We’re a very friendly and cooperative bunch of people: there’s always someone somewhere who’s looking for a teammate to go for an after-work beer, do sports together or the like. I love how open-minded and happy to help everyone in our company is. No matter who you are or what you do, at Digitec Galaxus, you can write a quick message to anybody and will always get a prompt reply. That’s very special, in my opinion. Working together is important to us – not just at the end of the process when we talk about a pull request. But before that, too, when we discuss a task or do pair programming. We want everyone on the team to have some knowledge about all features we’re working on. After all, many minds together create many ideas.

Zara Hegemann: the perfect new app crew is pragmatic and eager to experiment.
Zara Hegemann: the perfect new app crew is pragmatic and eager to experiment.

Finally, the most important question: which pizza works best to bribe the Digitec Galaxus veteran programmers into going the extra mile?

Zara: Funnily enough, we really did establish this as a statistic in the team once. The result was clear: every pizza except Hawaiian pizza is perfetto.

Michael: I don’t think it really matters, as long as it’s pizza. Pizza is a bit of a universal bribe – be it for hackathons, testing sessions or simply as a vitamin-packed end to an after-work beer session.

Fancy joining us? Check out these job offers:

Team Leader Mobile Apps
Product Owner Mobile Apps

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Tobias Billeter
Head of Corporate Communications

Making sure employees and media know what's up at Digitec Galaxus is my job. But without fresh air and a lot of exercise, I basically stop functioning. The great outdoors provides me with the energy I need to stay on the ball. Jazz gives me the tranquility to tame my kids. 

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