In the summer heat of 2019, Halfords, the UK’s well-known leading retailer of cycling products, partnered with StoryLab & Mail Metro Media to launch the fun and engaging “Really Ready for Summer” campaign. In their own words, Halfords are “all about the journey”, and in keeping with this, the aim of this campaign was to encourage its audience to get outside and active, directing them to a vast collection of cycle routes nationwide. By involving themselves in this campaign, consumers would be eligible to receive discounts on Halfords products, discovering the great outdoors in the process.
The group approached Shoothill with the challenge of developing a customised off-site application to build this campaign around. The software needed to be an easy to use interactive solution, aimed at consumers, which the campaign’s target audience could access for information and to track their progress. With a deadline and specification set, we applied our expertise in mapping integration and data visualisation to the task.
As a platform for the launch of this promotional campaign, we delivered the Halfords Discovery Hub. This fully bespoke application met all of the requirements, functionally enabling the campaign with tools to track user progress, on brand UX (user experience) focused design, and build in the narrow timescale required the meet the “Really Ready for Summer” start date. Our development team used Agile methodology to produce the solution to a high quality whilst also meeting this tight deadline. The Discovery Hub served as a web portal for consumers to participate in the campaign and was hosted using cloud computing.
Cloud hosting was achieved using the Microsoft Azure platform. As silver partners we have a lot of experience and expertise using Azure and in our long history of software development have constructed a portfolio of original functions, tools, and routines on the service. This prebuilt library enables us to directly apply our experience to new products quickly. Hosting the Discovery Hub through the cloud would provide the means for round the clock remote support from us should it be required. Cloud computing also enabled the campaign’s audience to access the portal from anywhere, on any internet enabled device, increasing catchment for the platform.
The portal took the form of a sleek web dashboard with a number of features. The software connected the campaign’s target audience to its content, allowing them to explore Halfords array of recommended days out across the country. This list was curated by Mail Metro Media. We used the latest technologies to build the system, with the back-end functionality coded in C# using the latest version of .NET Core.
All of these days out, including bike rides, footpaths, scooter routes and other events, were visualised from the user on an interactive map. This mapping tool used OpenStreetMap, a collaborative world mapping service from a community of geodata experts, with an API integration, with which we could place pins for each available day out. Using the inbuilt map tool and the dashboard features users could browse these pinned events and routes, each with a difficulty ranking and a user star rating, to maintain customer satisfaction. The map markers could be filtered using the dashboard tools.
Our UX centric design prioritised the average user finding the software easy to operate, with clear intuitive navigation and colour coded map markers. Every feature was clearly indicated and the layout natural and aesthetically pleasing, scaled to multiple devices. As well as ease of use, we geared the front end system towards high performance, building it up with Typescript, React, and MobX.
The map integration and bold visuals furnish the campaign’s audience with clear and easily interpretable data, creating an informative and enjoyable experience in itself, encouraging further users. Details of the campaign, locations, timings, and targets can be checked at a glance for effortless consumer engagement.
For the promotional campaign, Halfords had budgeted funding to reward the Discovery Hubs users with ten-pound vouchers across their product range when they completed five of the listed and mapped activities. The software system was responsible for tracking this user progress, which it achieved using another third-party integration, with Strava, a fitness based social networking service. Using their Challenge API, we connected to Strava in order to monitor user activity by linking up their accounts. As the consumers engaged with and completed the recommended days out, the Discovery Hub dynamically updated their dashboard by sourcing their progress from Strava.
As a result, the software handles a lot of data, and so uses SQL servers in order to manage it through the cloud. Once a customer has achieved the threshold five completed activities, the system is responsible for automatically and securely distributing them an email containing their unique voucher code, which they can redeem through Halfords omnichannel market.
With the Halfords Discovery Hub deployed the “Really Ready for Summer” campaign was an enormous hit with thousands of users across the nation accessing the software and checking in their progress. The vast majority of these customers completed their five activities and went on to earn their promotional voucher. In total, the combined userbase logged an astonishing 3.4 million miles cycled. This campaign impacted a lot of lives, facilitating an exodus into nature and bringing joy to many in the summertime. The campaign also created a lot of exposure for Halfords and drew in a lot of customers, eager to redeem their discounts in celebration of their physical achievements. Overall the campaign delivered a growing number of Halfords customers a satisfying experience.
Our customers were very pleased with the end result, the partnership happy to see the roaring success of the “Really Ready for Summer” campaign and impressed with the quality performance of Shoothill’s software which made it possible. The Discovery Hub worked flawlessly, with no issues for the duration of the campaign, and come it’s end, our business with Halfords continued with the Discovery Hub renewed for the winter. We were glad to work with responsive and open minded clients and our ongoing work with them will, we hope, further develop that relationship. Shoothill remain on good professional terms with all members of the partnership and look forward to working with them in the future.
At Shoothill’s end we were proud of the team leading, project organisational structure, and progressive development methodology which made the fast completion of the software possible. The incredibly high engagement level was pleasing to see, proving the system’s proficiency at delivering customer satisfaction. This elegant application with its stylish design and sleek UX complete with data visualisation on an interactive map, all driven by cutting edge technology, serves as a strong example of our quality of services. Having had the platform renewed we look forward to further innovation opportunities within this project, and future projects which pose similar challenges.