#RetailEXPO19: Halfords app revolutionises area manager store visits

Visiting stores was an inefficient process for area managers at Halfords who were predominantly using paper and email to manage the task but with the introduction of a dedicated app it has been fully streamlined.

Louise O’Keeffe, head of retail support at Halfords, said at RetailEXPO in London: “They had to manage a mass of paper-based information, use notepads, and have the frustration of smartphone technology in their hands but only being able to email and make calls.”

The task needed digitising and to also enable photos and videos to be introduced into the process, which pointed to the development of an app, according to O’Keeffe, who initiated a pilot with developer Yoobic in the Summer of 2017. Over a period of 12 months, a series of questions – ultimately 35 – were created, which then defined the “mission” of store visits. This formed what became the core of the iVisit app.

“The aim is to have one visit to a store – each quarter – and to capture everything on the app. We’ve added various other elements and it has been more useful than we could ever have imagined. The use of images has been a massive time saver,” she explained.

Such has been the success that O’Keeffe said other departments have heard about it and things like Health & Safety visits have now been incorporated, which can now be done in a quarter of the time. The app’s framework is also being utilised to boost the efficiency of profit protection and trading feedback.

There are likely to be further opportunities, according to O’Keeffe, as the app captures a lot of valuable data.