How we built one of the best apps of 2017

1st February 2018

Tuck into the recipe for success for building an App Store Best of 2017 award-winning app, cooked up by our Product Manager Ben Cottrell.

Farmdrop app on the app store

Finally…it’s easy to browse over breakfast

Over two years ago, Farmdrop decided to develop its own native iOS app. We chose to develop an app for the following reasons:

Everyone has a mobile phone

My iPhone is the centre of my internet universe. Google Analytics was telling us to build an iOS app, we have a large proportion of our user base on mobile and using Safari.

To enhance the customer experience

Users can browse and shop on the move. Having a purpose built application for a small screen is easier on the eye and simpler to use.

To make grocery shopping easy

With a native application we knew we could make improvements in speed and convenience.

No one else has done it

Nobody in the UK grocery market has built a compelling app and we saw it as an opportunity to stand out from the competition. Competitors often copy and paste the mobile web into a native application and it is often a feature bloated over complicated mess (sick on a page) of a user experience.

Apps make your product stickier

Once your app is downloaded it’s in the users pocket. We would always be visible on the users home screen and so are more likely to be at the front of mind.

We’ve come a long way since launching the app two years ago. Here’s what it looked like in January 2016…

Here’s what it looks like today:

Hard work gets you somewhere

After two years of sweat, blood and tears, developers moving onto pastures new, around 50 cycles of sprint then retro and continuous integration and delivery, we started to build an active user base. In between dodging unexpected curveballs, we’ve been able to deliver expected e-commerce functionality but also spend time on highlighting what really differentiates us.

In December 2017 Apple took to a shine to promoting our app. This is by far the most effective way of driving new installs and gave us national brand awareness.

A trio of promotions in the App Store really helped our app fly in December

Three ways the App Store featured our app

First up, the end of year accolade of Best of 2017. Apps featured here are ones App Store editors believe are trending in 2017. We were selected for our sustainability credentials which include: our core mission to fix to food chain; our novel click-to-harvest model; and our approach to reducing our carbon footprint (we only deliver using electric vans, for example).

Then there’s App of the Day. This is part of Apple’s new editorial strategy to improve app discovery. Being featured here makes it easier for users to find apps. This helps to solve the problem of users having a desire to get the most out of their phone yet are overwhelmed by the sheer number of apps available.

And how could we forget It’s Turkey Time? In the run up to Christmas, this promotion on the App Store highlighted our lovingly sourced, incredible quality organic or free range turkeys from Fosse Meadows and Frenchbeer.

So how do you get promoted?

From past experience you get featured on the App Store by doing the following:

1. Making an amazing product (obvious I know)

Apple has given us recognition for the last two years development work, design challenges and all the fun and games that comes with product development. However we still have a long way to go to get to our vision – but it’s a big thumbs up that we are doing the right thing!

2. Be on the App Store managers radar

It helps for Apple to be talking about you as a business. Our CEO Ben Pugh gave a presentation on why Farmdrop exists, its mission and vision. We integrated Apple pay at their request, had an increase in press coverage and also have Apple employees shopping with Farmdrop, which all helps.

3. Work with an Apple UI/UX specialist

Discussing and acting on the feedback with Apple developer relations and an Apple UI/UX specialist on our approach and features proved very valuable and gave us a lot of food for thought.

What’s next on the roadmap:

Here’s a sneak preview:

1. Carry on improving performance and for users to be able to use many aspects of the app without an internet connection.

2. Make the App an acquisition tool as well as retention one. We need to help make new customers aware of what we’re about and what makes us different from competitors. One way to do this would be by making our referral scheme standalone so iOS users can take advantage.

3. Take advantage of iOS features. For example, relevant and timely push notifications, local search, and a home widget to keep customers more informed about the order status and delivery.

4. Developing an Android App. I know many customers are asking about one! It’s in early development with a TBC release date but should be with us soon.

Thanks for reading my first product/techy blog post. If you haven’t tried our app yet please give it a go and download.

Please feel free to drop me a line in the comments below if you have any questions, suggestions or requests.

Discover more about how you’re saving British farmers with every shop and Farmdrop pays double what supermarkets do.

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