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Nordstrom launches leading mobile retail experience for Android

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The Problem

Nordstrom, Inc, a leading international fashion retailer based in Seattle, had found early success with its iOS app, but the Android version—built by a third party—was lagging.

“It couldn’t handle the traffic, and we just weren’t happy with it altogether,” says program manager Tim Nguyen. “The iOS app went forward with a number of different features, and the Android development just couldn’t seem to keep up.”

As the situation worsened, Nordstom decided to pull the app from the Google Play store.

Starting from Scratch

While Android continued gains in market share, Nordstrom reached out to GenuI for help to improve their Android version. “They started to really just generate this team from scratch.” says Nguyen.

After conducting a thorough examination of the existing code, GenuI determined it would be best to start over. “They decided not to use any of the code from the past and started coding over again from the get-go,” says Nguyen.

“From the beginning they wanted to really gain an understanding of the iOS app and how it needed to work for Android, so they established a little homebase here and basically started figuring out what the needs of the Android product were.”

Throughout the process, GenuI Founder and CEO Jason Thane made visits to ensure he understood the needs of the project and to convey what resources his company could provide.

The Solution

“The goal was to create feature parity to the iOS version on Android, which we achieved after about a year of engagement,” he says. “What’s notable about that is that Nordstrom’s iOS app had a team of 30 developers. We were able to accomplish feature parity in one year with a team less than one-third that size.”

From an initial pair of programmers, the team grew to six and then later eight people—four sets of paired programmers. After six months with GenuI, the app was launched.

“I was actually pretty impressed with how fast we were able to get to market from scratch on an Android app,” says Nguyen. “And also to get almost a feature parity just five to six months after, was pretty remarkable.”

Through development practices including pair programming, test-driven development, and continuous integration, the team built a sturdy, scalable app that can respond to market changes and new user demands quickly.

In the latter half of the engagement, GenuI’s role shifted to providing talented developers that Nordstrom could hire full-time, says Thane. Ultimately, Nordstrom permanently hired five developers who were recruited and vetted by GenuI.

“The most important factor in the success of a project like this is the quality of the individuals on the team,” says Thane. “We had a very tight knit team. Lots of trust, lots of communication, lots of shared rituals and effort.”

An Award-Winning App

The app earned Nordstrom Google’s Top Developer badge, which the Google Play editorial staff awards to the best apps and games in the store. To date, the app enjoys a 4.5-star customer rating across more than 500,000 downloads. Reports from Nordstrom indicate that sales performance for the Android app has been on par with its iOS counterpart, which is a rarity, as iOS users regularly spend more than Android users.

And eighteen months later, the team members sourced by GenuI have become integral.

“To this day—it’s been about a year and a half—we still have a few GenuI folks that ended up staying on with the team and are just superstar players,” says Nguyen. “They’re definitely very valuable and have helped to really flesh out the overall team. GenuI was definitely a huge help to comb through candidates and ensure quality for folks who were being brought on board.”

  • App earned Top Developer status from Google Play Store editors
  • Eight-month build time
  • Average 4.5 star rating and glowing user reviews
  • Android sales performance on par with iOS after just one year
  • More than 500,000 downloads and counting
  • High app store rankings across top 15 retail keywords

About Nordstrom

An incredible eye for what’s next in fashion. A passionate drive to exceed expectations. For more than 100 years, we’ve worked to deliver the best possible shopping experience, helping our customers express their style—not just buy fashion.

Nordstrom, Inc. is a leading fashion retailer offering compelling clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and kids. Since 1901, we’ve been committed to providing our customers with the best possible service—and to improving it every day.

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