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Headforwards develops new app for leading high street brand

Joe Bevan
Authored by Joe Bevan
Posted: Tuesday, February 20, 2024 - 14:41

Technology partner Headforwards has created a new app for the John Lewis Partnership.

The Pool-based technology and software engineering company has worked closely with the John Lewis Partnership to support its digital transformation over 10 years.

John Lewis Partnership (JLP) is the UK’s largest employee-owned business, and parent company of retail brands John Lewis and Waitrose, owned in Trust by more than 74,000 Partners (employees).

JLP wanted to create an app which would complement its existing wellbeing website, used internally by employees to access discounts and benefits.

Raphael Hewett, Publicity Manager at John Lewis Partnership, explained why the task was more complex than simply replicating the website: “Within the wellbeing function of the John Lewis partnership we already have a website that’s well established for housing our benefits.

“We’ve been thinking about doing this for some time, but we didn’t just want to wrap the website up into an app and package it as something mobile friendly; we wanted the app to specifically do something different that the website can’t do.”

Headforwards worked with JLP to help the organisation better understand exactly what they needed from the new app, taking an agile approach to its development.

Ruby Harris, Scrum Master and Product Owner at Headforwards said: “It’s great to see a client’s enthusiasm when they come to us with a really big idea - it helps us to know what the vision is for the end product. But what we like to do is really scale it back and find the biggest pain points in what they're trying to achieve.”

Phase one of the app’s development was a map-based platform offering JLP partners access to benefits within their geolocation. The user could type their location in, and the app would search products (benefits and discounts) in their area.

Emma Grimes, Full Stack Developer at Headforwards comments: “Initially, the user had to do quite a lot of work, but after it had been proven that the app was needed and worked as JLP wanted it to, we were able to iterate and make it much more user friendly.”

The app is now in phase three; Headforwards has added geolocation and biometric log in. The user can now access the app using Face ID or fingerprints, and can view products near their location without having to enter any details.

Hewett adds: “The reason we like working with Headforwards is that they are very good at initially focusing on the minimum viable product, but they build and develop in a way that means we can keep making continuous improvements and iterations.”

Since launching the app six months ago, it has had over 24,000 downloads and is the go-to method used by employees to access their JLP wellbeing benefits.

JLP came to Cornwall this week to join Headforwards at Software Cornwall’s BIG Cornish Tech Showcase - part of the Festival of Tech event.

Raphael Hewett (JLP) and Jon White, Partner & Proposition Manager for Wellbeing & Health at JLP, joined Headforwards Cofounder Toby Parkins and Ruby Harris on stage for a fireside chat to discuss this particular project.

The panel discussed what a good partnership looks like in the technology sector, and ways in which tech businesses can work with organisations to help deliver on their objectives and values.

More details about the project can be found in a short film here:

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