Hello Mendix: Jumbo builds custom shop floor applications

As one of the leading supermarket chains in the Netherlands, Jumbo is always shopping for innovative solutions. It was particularly interested in developing shop floor applications according to the Mendix AppFactory Framework for processes that are not part of conventional SAP S/4HANA functionality. As proof of concept, we built a ‘best before’ app for expiration date checking, showcasing the many advantages of the Mendix platform.

What was the challenge?

showcasing the many advantages of the Mendix platform. As part of this digital transformation, it is replacing task-oriented with process-oriented apps. Mendix is ideal for this. In addition to accelerating development, the platform allows for a highly flexible and collaborative process that is completely in house and structured according to the three phases of the Mendix Digital Transformation Framework: Start, Structure, Scale. As a test case, we built a best before app that Jumbo employees can use to check product expiration dates. As a test case, we built a best before app that Jumbo employees can use to check product expiration dates.

Products are grouped into categories such as meats, vegetables and dairy, each with their own checking time frame. Based on these time frames, employee PDA devices receive an automated list of products that need checking. Employees enter the oldest best before date on the shelves into their PDA device. In the previous task-oriented setup, for example, employees had to switch to a different app to update stock levels of expired products. The new setup combines all relevant tasks into a single process.

What solution did we deliver?

As supermarket employees tend to be young and quite tech-savvy, we thought — why not make them huge Jumbo fans by creating a beautiful, user-friendly app? This would boost both efficiency and employee retention. So, the Jumbo design team sat down with employees, franchise owners and store managers to ask about their experiences. How do they like to sort checking lists? Which information do they need, and which information is superfluous? What is the easiest way to enter dates into PDA devices?

Our development team also got to work. The new best before app combines all relevant tasks into a single process. Employees receive additional information along with images, making products a lot easier to find. They also have access to information at both shelf and store levels. Store managers can use the accompanying desktop application to select or exclude products, and new products are automatically added. And that’s not all: minor design tweaks collectively make a big difference in terms of time and efficiency.

Where did the complexity lie?

Jumbo’s IT landscape is complex, and its range of products is extensive. We had various product categories to contend with, each with their own checking time frame. There are about five to ten PDA devices in every store — more than 700 across the Netherlands and Belgium. The Jumbo design team also identified specific user demands, like a feature to indicate empty shelves or view product checking lists for the previous and next days.

Another complicating factor was that the app doesn’t just receives data from SAP; it also makes bookings. PDA devices were previously designed for generic use, but the best before app is personalised. When employees register products as removed from sale, stock levels are centrally updated in SAP. Scalability also posed a challenge, so we tested the app in three stores in Belgium. Jumbo is currently conducting a phased rollout, first to other stores in Belgium and then to stores in the Netherlands.

How did we make the difference?

The best before app was a successful test case: Jumbo has fully embraced the Mendix platform. At the beginning of the project, Jumbo did not have a development team; we took the lead. Now, the supermarket chain has three Mendix teams with developers, designers, test consultants, business analysts and product owners. Our designers also worked together with their opposite numbers at Jumbo to set up a design system. The result is a seamless UX that aligns perfectly with the brand and enables developers to work faster and more efficiently.

Along with Mendix, we have helped Jumbo scale up its app development based on the Mendix AppFactory Framework. We are currently collaborating on portfolio and value management and addressing technical architecture challenges. As a result, our favourite supermarket now fully benefits from the most efficient and flexible way to build, use and manage smart applications.