Retail chain apps are on the rise in Czechia. As the longtime charts leader, Lidl has now been replaced by Albert CZ’s mobile app, Můj Albert, made by Creative Dock.

Words by Michal Schindler

The app is based on unique UX data analysis and offers features like loyalty credit collection, a discount flyer, a unique selection of recipes, etc. Plus, it ditches the need to use plastic loyalty cards.

One of the most popular mobile apps in CZ

When your mobile app leaves behind eRouška, the Covid-19 tracking app that has dominated the rankings for many months, you can certainly say it's successful. Although Albert Czech Republic, part of the Ahold Delhaize group, only joined the retail chain app competition in April this year (with Lidl, Kaufland, or Penny already in the game), the app officially took the lead within just a few weeks. Actually, it broke the charts in Czechia shortly after its launch.

albert, ahold, ad campaign, shopping, healthy eating
The app's ad campaign highlights the benefits of healthy eating – and shopping.

Why so popular?

“We believe one of the most crucial reasons is its user-friendliness,” ponders Annika Skalická, marketing director of Creative Dock's Můj Albert (My Albert) team. “UX was simply essential. We tested customer requirements on an ongoing basis. Thanks to their feedback, we modified both the appearance, control, and structure, i.e. UX, as well as the functionality, i.e. what the app can do,” she adds.

What exactly do we mean by claiming the app is “popular”? Over 650,000 people downloaded the app in the first month and over 80% of them use it almost daily. At this point, Můj Albert is the mobile app with the most downloads on both Google Play and App Store in the country.

Based on real-user UX from the very start

The Můj Albert app was designed and built from A to Z by Ahold’s European product team together with Creative Dock’s Prague office. “The development has been running since August 2019. From the very beginning, it was based on the needs of real customers,” says project manager Jan Bertl.

“Our task was to combine interesting content and inspiration, information from promotional leaflets, and a reward program. But the app also promotes a healthy lifestyle. Not only does the customer receive a credit reward for every purchase, they also get extra credits for buying healthy products,” adds Annika Skalická. The app’s nationwide public launch was scheduled for April 14, 2021, and delivered on time.

The most complex app in CD's experience

“Although Creative Dock already has a lot of experience with digitization and creation of applications and other consumer products, a product with such a huge amount of data and such importance for the satisfaction of millions of customers was a challenge for us,” says Pavel Suchánek, Creative Dock's project lead.

“Developing such a large and complex app within a year with just one team is quite demanding. Our ‘Albert team’ and its enthusiasm, cooperation, and care for the client also raised the bar internally within Creative Dock,” he comments.

Developed with brilliant tech minds

To satisfy the needs of a client as important as Albert CZ and integrate the database and content in one app was technically challenging – and interesting. “We started piece by piece with back-end code in Kotlin, a modern, concise, and safe programming language. Following that, we used TypeScript, which is coherent with JavaScript, on the front-end to create a native app both for iOS and Android,” says Martin Kalina, CTO and back-end developer of the project.

“The whole project follows DevOps methodology. It is a cloud-native solution built on Kubernetes in Azure using top notch technology,” adds Petr Soulek, Creative Dock’s infrastructure architect and DevOps engineer. The state-of-the-art tech stack, together with continuous testing in 3 different environments, also ensure a smooth response to the fast-growing audience.

The customer – and nature – come first

Needless to say, the client is very satisfied with the results. “I'm happy with the professional team of Creative Dock that has helped us to make this big jump into Albert’s digital transformation. The results of the first weeks show that our customers are ready and happily adopting these new initiatives and that launching a digital loyalty program is one of the many things that we are working on, so more to come in the future,” points out Bram Neervoort, Albert Czech Republic’s chief digital officer.

The future is digital, for sure. It’s also sustainable. A digital loyalty program is a substitute for hundreds of thousands of plastic cards which are commonly used in such programs. Moreover, customers can opt for electronic receipts, which they can view directly in the app, as opposed to traditional paper receipts. While a single receipt might seem insignificant, this move towards digitalization can save large amounts of paper in the future.

Feedback? Not just a buzzword

“We have set important milestones for ourselves and still have new ones to reach, but we decided to promote the app to our employees first. They have been crucial to our success and helped provide critical feedback at the beginning of the app development,” explains Klára Vojtová, the product owner of Můj Albert. “We want to keep a good job going and keep evolving as there are more and more users who give us great ideas for our next steps.”

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