Union Swiss, the maker of the global skin care brand Bio-Oil, has partnered with Bluegrass Digital to design and develop a new Instagram-style mobile app to provide distributors across 154 countries the ability to access brand content, news and information to support their marketing and sales initiatives.
The new B2B marketing app not only enables the Union Swiss team to communicate and share information with distributors, but it also creates a sense of community among distributors. This is achieved by giving distributors a platform to showcase their efforts and successes in their respective markets.
It provides clear user journeys to ensure quick and easy access to content. The user experience (UX) invokes belief, pride and a compulsion to want to share content with others.
Close collaboration to achieve project goals
Bluegrass Digital worked closely with Union Swiss team members to address the key challenges and deliver a solution that successfully meets the key objectives. The project followed an Agile KANBAN approach to deliver both the iOS and Android mobile app.
Union Swiss CEO, Kim Lombard says the company wanted to create an Instagram experience, but with a more corporate feel.
“The app was designed to function as the only channel of communication between Union Swiss and its extensive distributor network, eliminating the email and extranet correspondence that was commonplace in the past,” she explains. “Today, this is the primary way that we communicate with our distributors. Everything happens on the app. More importantly, this approach just made sense because the days of big and bold brand adverts are over and have been replaced by local, more bespoke digital campaigns.”
Bluegrass Digital CEO, Nick Durrant adds: “Together we have developed a robust mobile app that encompasses and successfully portrays the professionalism and styling of the Union Swiss-owned Bio-Oil brand.”
Key features of the app
The agile KANBAN approach allowed for the team to be flexible with the iterative UX and design process. It also supported a phased approach for the rollout of new features.
Some of the key features include profiles for different distributors, a newsfeed where people can upload videos and photos, as well as a contact list detailing the different distributors across disparate regions. There also needed to be some sort of reporting functionality so that users can report any potential misuse of the app.
“With the app, we wanted to create a glass window between ourselves and our distributors so that they can see into our business and, ideally, we also get to experience what they’re doing and how the strategy is translating in reality,” adds Lombard. “Our aim was to build a Bio-Oil community. We wanted to seamlessly connect everyone in a more contemporary, real-time way, which wouldn’t have been possible using more traditional communication.”
Bio-Oil followed an iterative process where Bluegrass produced wireframes and then went back and forth with the client adding further features and functionality as the development progressed. They used React Native to make improvements across both the Android and iOS platforms without having to maintain two different sets of code.
The API was built with .NET and supported with Azure App Services. All the images and video content that distributors share on the app are hosted in Microsoft Azure.
An inspirational online community
In a very short time, Union Swiss was able to get all its distributors onto the app and they are actively posting the work they do. Creating an ecosystem where content can be shared easily helps to build a community and inspires others.
Lombard says it also makes individual distributors feel like they’re part of something bigger.
“It’s been a wonderful experiment in how to run a global business and how to do so, well,” she adds. “Future plans include incorporating sales performance metrics into the app so that distributors can see how others are doing and can measure their efforts alongside the efforts of their peers.”
Bluegrass Digital continues to collaborate with the Union Swiss team on this project and regularly adds new features and makes improvements to the app.