Norwex: Cleaning Up the User Experience with Hybrid App Development
Modernizing a Mobile App Paradigm From Web App Tech to Native
For over 27 years, Norwex has been an industry leader in sustainable cleaning and personal care solutions. They are a forward-thinking company, guided by core values such as respect, integrity, and dedication to excellence. Their offerings range from household cleaning solutions to personal hygiene products.
The Challenge: The cost of building traditional apps
For Norwex, building a global eCommerce platform for mobile posed a number of significant challenges. Building traditional mobile apps offered a lot of downsides. To begin with, traditional mobile app development would require two separate Swift/C# and Java teams for basic development. It would also have necessitated implementing an entirely new development environment.
In addition to the difficulty and expense of finding qualified mobile developers, the traditional approach would have proven cumbersome every step of the way. Initial development would have lagged behind for all the above reasons, while other considerations such as updates and deployment delays would also impede progress.
Norwex needed a better solution to make the most of the resources they already had, while staying in control of their development timeline.
Rob Gore, Director of Mobile Applications at Norwex
The Solution: Rapid development and proof-of-concept
In 2014, Rob Gore, the current Director of Mobile Applications at Norwex, began evaluating how to break into the emerging mobile app development market. Hybrid mobile development was still in its nascent stages, and most mobile apps were being developed by teams with specific mobile coding language skill sets. Ultimately, Gore discovered Angular, as well as Ionic's Capacitor platform.
Gore’s fledgling efforts with this system led to the GraceNote social media application and paved the way for what Gore would be able to accomplish at Norwex.
The final challenge for Gore was to persuade Norwex to adopt the Ionic framework. He cited several reasons for his approach—primarily the fact that, instead of having to hire two mobile developers, they could simply leverage Norwex’s existing web app development talent.
When it came to the decision-making process, Gore had this to say: "Not having to hire separate Swift teams and Java teams or implement the entire development environment (because they have a wonderful cloud-based solution) meant I could do rapid development and proof of concept that I used quickly. In general, it was a low-risk/high-reward solution."
And with enterprise plug-ins, internationalization functionality, enterprise-level support, and live update functionality added to the mix, Ionic proved to be the obvious choice.
The Results: A web focused approach
Ionic and Norwex first came together when Rob Gore decided to demonstrate the web-app-focused approach to mobile development with a training app.
"Norwex wanted to produce a training application, and they wanted to do that as a mobile app, but it was going to be expensive and time consuming, and they needed it to be out quickly,” explained Gore. “I told them, 'let me do it.' So I personally developed and deployed a Norwex training application called Party360 using the technology stack of Ionic 3, Angular 4, and GitLab, among others.”
The cross-platform app was successfully launched across four countries in English, French, and Spanish. As the app progressed, Gore began exploring the other options, creating native apps with the best that web app technology had to offer. Norwex was so impressed by the potential of the hybrid model that they eventually hired four new developers and began development on both Norwex's API and mobile applications.
Once they had fully adopted the Ionic framework, the Norwex team began developing a new shopping app. After a year of development, the Norwex Shopping app is now available in four countries and provides a significant source of revenue.
In addition, Norwex has already broken ground on a second mobile app. This consultant application is slated for release in 2022.
Rob Gore, Director of Mobile Applications at Norwex
Ionic brought in excellent staff. They reviewed what we were doing and made recommendations.
Looking to the Future
While Norwex hasn't announced any major revision plans, Rob Gore has noted that the developers have been considering how well the mobile apps developed with Ionic technology run in a desktop environment. Future development may even include fully converging Norwex's mobile and desktop apps.
A Collaborative Approach to Support
Over time, Norwex developed an increasingly complex build environment.
"We finally got ourselves in trouble where our build environment was not working well, and we had to find a solution," admitted Rob Gore.
It was the perfect opportunity for Ionic's support to shine. Gore was able to connect with Ionic support staff right away.
"Ionic brought in excellent staff. They reviewed what we were doing and made recommendations." Gore further elaborated, "And we learned that we needed to do some things to separate some of our modules a bit because we were having some circular dependencies we didn't want to have."
Ultimately, thanks to the Ionic support staff, Norwex was able to efficiently resolve their problems and prevent any significant loss of productivity.