PlaceMakers Trade App

  • 2021

  • Digital
    Apps and Software

Designed By:

  • Apolinar

Commissioned By:


Designed In:

New Zealand

PlaceMakers is New Zealand’s largest supplier of building materials and hardware. Their vision was to lead the industry into a digital future, starting with a new mobile app for their trade customers. Traditionally, builders weren’t perceived as being tech-savvy and preferred to pop in-store to place orders, therefore the app’s UX had to change this behavioural pattern and perception.

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  • There were a number of challenges this project had to address: 1. Tracking capabilities. Builders didn't have a clear oversight of when orders would arrive. When receiving larger orders, this impacted cost as builders couldn't accurately hire cranes and specialised machinery by the hour to receive and transport materials. 2. Online ordering. During NZ COVID-19 lockdowns, construction businesses were still able to operate, however, it was increasingly difficult for builders to purchase items in-store whilst still adhering to the social distancing, and 'stay at home' rules. 3. Implementing user spending limits. 4. User management. Managing various contractors and permissions.

  • Through our Co-Design process, we designed a mobile app that allowed users to create orders online, 'skip the counter' for contactless order pick-ups, track orders and deliveries in real-time, reducing unnecessary all-day crane and equipment hire, and contractor costs in order to receive the order. As construction projects often have numerous contractors cycling through at different times, for different reasons, Project Managers are now able to set spending limits per user, as well as add full and temporary members, and set deadlines where access would automatically be revoked unless extended, reducing time spent managing potentially hundreds of contractors.

  • The app launched during COVID-19 Alert Level 3, providing contactless pick-up and delivery services. Customers could create, track and update orders in one place; project managers could grant subcontractors in-app purchasing permissions with spending limits. The app gained full support from franchise owners and overwhelmingly positive feedback from trade customers. "…the best thing we have had since I have been here (10 years)." - PlaceMakers Mt Wellington Builders can now quickly and confidently navigate through the app to place orders, encouraging a shift in customer behaviour; enhancing the end-to-end user experience and creating greater brand loyalty.

  • We approached this in three stages: Research, Co-Design Sprint and User Testing. Research: We gathered customer insights, conducted competitor research and reviewed data analytics. Co-Design: We then held a collaborative five-day sprint with a cross-functional team (sales, finance, marketing, IT and GM's) to ensure customer needs were met. On day 1: We established a shared understanding of problems/key opportunities to improve the end-to-end experience for PlaceMakers trade customers. Day 2: We facilitated design-thinking exercises for everyone to share their ideas, resulting in different possible solutions for problems identified. Day 3: We agreed as a group which solutions to focus on, and key questions we want answered from user testing. Anonymous voting created a heatmap of the best ideas in the room, allowing everyone an equal say. Day 4: Using Sketch, Abstract and InVision, our designers created a high-fidelity interactive prototype in 8 hours, designing with real data. Our refined design-ops process allowed multiple designers to work quickly and simultaneously. Day 5: We conducted 15 one-on-one user testing sessions with builders. Sketch and Zeplin were used to create a scalable digital style-guide, ensuring design consistency. Abstract was used for full source control, version history and internal design reviews through iterations.