SNapp for Smiths News

Smiths News delivers 40 million newspapers and 14 million magazines each week to more than 30,000 retailers. This time-sensitive, complex supply chain resulted in more than 60,000 calls each week to the four UK call centres.

The application is called SNapp and is available for retailers to download from the Apple and Google app stores – easy to install and use straight away.

Smiths News teamed up with Keytree to develop an application that would aim to reduce the number of calls to customer service by 20 percent in four years, provide a real-time interface for customer service to contact retailers. It would also need to be made available and used by all warehouses on a daily basis.

The scope of this project was to deliver a highly functional mobile application directly integrated into the core backend SAP system through SAP Gateway. It will allow real-time customer visibility to enable them to self-serve the majority of their transactional requests, with a view to saving time and money and significantly improve customer service.

The project had two main strands

  • The architecting and build of a single, secure, scalable mobile platform for the wider Connect Group PLC.
  • The design, development, build and support of a set of robust mobile applications across Android and iOS platforms that was simple and intuitive.

A clear approach to ensure success

Design thinking

By focussing on a visual set of wireframes and prototypes early on in the project, this ensured internal business partners and retail customers could input into the final design. As a consequence, they could get excited about what was coming, which was described by Smiths as critical in this industry.

Clear planning

The use of a base-lined project plan, reporting deviations to the project board and having an engaged project team dedicated to hitting timelines was hugely critical to overall success. Smaller parts of the project (e.g. penetration testing) were also meticulously planned to enable them to happen at the right time.


The open communication in our project engendered a public discussion of issues across the teams, fast and factual decision making and customer-driven development. This approach was key to the overall design and implementation of the project.

Ensuring high quality

Smiths made it clear that the application must be driven by customer needs and not the needs of Smiths News. To ensure clarity, board level sponsorship and engagement was paramount – to the extent that the App was signed off at Group Exec Level.

A clear testing strategy was in place and tested to exhaustion and as a result since the App went live, there have been less than ten bugs across all components.

A prize winner

The SNapp application has been awarded the Gold Award for Mobility Innovation by SAP.

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More awards for SNapp

The app also led to Smiths News winning the Association of Circulation Executives Award for Customer Excellence in the press industry.

Smiths News: Reducing Customer Service Calls by 20% with SNapp, Design Thinking, and SAP ERP

Working with SAP and Keytree, Smiths News engaged in a design thinking workshop to develop SNapp – a mobile app that integrates with SAP ERP and can be used by retail customers to manage deliveries make alterations submit claims and reorganize orders while on the go.

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“Winning this award is fantastic news. It recognises the skills and dedication of the SNapp cross-functional project team, the focus we placed on meeting customer requirements and the meticulous testing we completed to ensure quality.”

Marcus Cotes – IT Director, Smiths News

Benefits & results

By the end of October 2014 SNapp had achieved the following landmarks:

  • A reduction of call volumes to call centre for the first time in 3 years
  • Over 1700 unique users on over 2400 mobile devices
  • Over 450,000 customer interactions (searches, queries, claims, and orders) including over 100,000 customer order alterations