The Problem

As a prominent, trade-focused building supplies and hardware distributor, CARTERS is a leading supplier to residential and commercial building companies across New Zealand. To create a frictionless trade customer experience, CARTERS invested in an online trade portal website in 2019 for their tens of thousands of Trade account holders all over the country. 

User feedback indicated that while the online portal was useful, Trade users were looking for a seamless and truly mobile experience, without the need to constantly log in to the HTML5 web version. It wasn't providing the easy, on-the-go, anytime access CARTERS’ customers needed, leading to low adoption. 

Hence, to ensure they continued to be a major partner for trade businesses, CARTERS realised they needed to remove this friction for their customers by providing instant and efficient access to their products & offers with the added advantage of a secure, 'always-on' experience. 

At the same time, CARTERS were clear about one thing: the solution needed to be a true, future-proof digital platform that not only met customer expectations but was also best-in-breed. 

The Journey

The best approach to solving any problem is to understand it first. Over the years, Enlighten Designs have perfected a robust Discovery & Design process that ensures we understand the problem from all aspects and cater to the various stakeholders. By placing the user at the heart of the design process, we can deliver exceptional experiences for our customers.

Here is a peek behind the curtain. 

We started our work with CARTERS by running an Illuminate Workshop at their Auckland premises. This workshop is designed to get clarity and alignment across teams, particularly for new projects. It is a low-cost investment that gives customers a demonstration of what the partnership with us would be like.

The workshop was the perfect way for us to understand their requirements and then match them with our expertise by exploring the problems and opportunities from various perspectives with the stakeholders at CARTERS. As a result, we were able to identify key features to be included in our final solution, create a backlog, and form a plan of action – all delivered to CARTERS as a complete report with a roadmap on project delivery. 

The next step was a deeper dive into research and design. An assessment of the sitemap and user flow gave the team insight into the trade portal. We also talked to the end-users – the builders – directly as well as visited different CARTERS' sites ‘back offices’ to truly appreciate how their branches worked. 

We really wanted the mobile app to be a great experience for our customers. Enlighten Designs were a clear front-runner when we were selecting a partner due to their approach of going out into the field with customers and understanding their problems.
Mike Lambert, CARTERS IT Manager

The Destination

After the research came the wireframing and UX design, and development started once this was validated by the CARTERS team. Choosing Xamarin (Microsoft’s free cross-platform, open-source, mobile application development toolset) on Azure meant we could work at speed and cost-effectively, to build both iOS and Android mobile applications simultaneously. In short, with a truly agile approach, CARTERS got to test rich mobile application functionality for both iOS and Android users at the end of each sprint, while the design and UX were also continuously refined.

The build stage was a mixture of:

  1. Customer engagement – All stakeholders were part of every step of the build process, which ensured that CARTERS’ interests were maintained throughout the delivery process. Most notable were the super-efficient 5-minute daily standups that had 12 participants from three different companies at times!
  2. Early and frequent testing – We significantly de-risked the project by releasing an in-progress build of the app after each iteration of development, which was then tested by CARTERS’ internal stakeholders. This early testing provided us with valuable feedback which helped refine the requirements backlog, accommodate necessary changes while the cost of change was low, and launch the app in early 2021 after smooth User Acceptance Testing.
  3. Continuous improvement – The project team held frequent “lessons learned” sessions which helped us continuously refine our tailored approach to the project’s special circumstances.
  4. Collaboration with 3rd party vendor – We worked closely with a 3rd party vendor, who were developing the back end and providing the APIs to CARTERS ERP. This ensured all integration points were completed on time with minimal disruptions.
  5. Project control and progress check – Following each iteration, we organised live demos of the in-progress build. Along with the progress reports, these served as milestone checks that verified the project was within budget and on time.

The Results

In the end, by understanding the needs of all stakeholders and emphasising the user experience from the get-go, we could deliver a rich mobile application for both Android and iOS users without major hurdles. 

CARTERS were thrilled to launch our Trade App to customers in May 2021, with the support of Enlighten to bring this project to life.  We found the process of working with the team at Enlighten efficient at all phases of the project, from their initial pitch, right through to their thought process, communication, and outcome – their team were focused on delivering a great product and making it easy for us to understand the detail throughout each stage to produce a stylish and simple-to-use trade customer-focused solution.
Mike Lambert, CARTERS IT Manager

The CARTERS mobile app has definitely changed the game by providing an effortless and secure log in and a seamless experience for their customers that can be accessed from any device and any worksite in New Zealand – a critical measure of success for them. In just a year, the app has a 5-star rating on both the app stores and has been downloaded more than 4,000 times by builders and tradies with positive feedback, which shows they are on their way there.

We found that Enlighten were highly engaged following our first workshop, even taking time to speak to some of our trade customers to understand their unique needs, as well as with our front-line branch staff to get their view. With input from CARTERS IT and Marketing teams, the technical teams were able to design a suitable solution which was customer-centric and fit for purpose.
Hayley Reid, CARTERS GM Marketing

Since launch, CARTERS and Enlighten have been making improvements to the app and have rolled out phased updates to continue improving the experience for users to ensure CARTERS continues to be every tradie’s ‘Premium Business Partner’.


Here’s what our customers say about the CARTERS app

The ability to search products over different stores across New Zealand is great. We specify Carters for sourcing products because of this. i.e., we state what a particular material costs from one of your local stores. We already recommend it to builders that we work with.
We just search prices manually with sites such as Mitre10, Bunnings, PlaceMakers etc. but Carters is our 'go-to' and we only go elsewhere if we can't find the product.
It is a fantastic app and it's great to be able to purchase through it. We use it for pricing work and specifying products on insurance repairs. This information is passed on to the builders who will be making the purchases rather than us. However, it is a fantastic App for us to be able to access live prices.

It’s so easy and you get instant clarification. It’s quick and easy and doesn't need a phone call.
Have used others and yours is the simplest and the search actually gives what you look for.
My overall experience with the app has been good - it’s great that I can now check prices on things. Just having the app is easy for access out of the office.
It was intuitive and easy to use. I like how you can use simple keywords and the items will pop up. Love the price check scanner on the app.
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