Mobile App Development

Interview with Mallzee – Scottish Mobile App Star

17th July 2017

Waracle interviews Cally Russell, Founder and CEO of Mallzee

It was hard to miss the excitement around the launch of the Scottish App Stars (#SAS30) earlier this year.  Therefore, what better way to follow up than to interview some of the Scottish App Stars themselves!  

As Scotland’s largest mobile app development and IoT company, we enjoy seeing other Scottish companies having great success with mobile apps. In fact, we’re fascinated by what makes a good app.

So, first in this series of #SAS30 interviews, we reach out to Cally Russell at Mallzee to hear his thoughts on thinking mobile first and founding an app. What can we say – it’s made an exciting interview!

So, read on and learn the motive behind such a successful mobile shopping app and hear how Scotland as a tech nation is helping with their business success.

About Cally

Cally Russell based in Edinburgh, founded Mallzee in 2013 and is passionate about creating a shopping experience that changes how people shop on mobile. What’s more he should be very proud to have been selected last year by Forbes as #30under30 for Europe.

About Mallzee

Mallzee is designed for anyone who wants to find and buy clothes via their mobile.  The app (Android | iOS) brings together hundreds of high street retailers into one free app which is simple and fun to browse, then compare and buy items from a huge variety of brands.  Mallzee users are aged from 13 to 65 years, are male and female and although predominantly based in the UK.  Mallzee is used in over 148 countries worldwide and is available in a sterling and dollar version.

The Waracle Think Mobile First Interview!


1: How does Mallzee mobile app help shoppers?

Mallzee makes finding great clothes easy no matter where you are as it brings together the entire high street – giving users a mall in their hand.  It also helps users save money as all items that you swipe to ‘like’ are saved in your unique user profile and if, at some point in the future, they go on sale this automatically triggers a price drop notification enabling users to purchase via the app in under 15 seconds meaning Mallzee users are amongst the first to grab any bargains!


2: Cally, what was the main reason behind developing the mobile app?

I was frustrated trying to find and buy a pair of jeans via my mobile – I was having to go in and out of every retailer’s own website which was making comparing items tricky and the process slow and cumbersome.  I was used to being able to do more and more via my mobile and just felt I could develop an app that would make the process smoother and more efficient.


3: Did you have any surprises when launching and marketing the app?

You’re likely to launch your product multiple times searching for product market fit, so get comfortable with trying lots of things and iterating quickly. Also, don’t expect to go ‘viral’ you need to find sustainable growth channels for your app from day 1.


4: What changes have you seen in mobile app usage over recent times?  

Our time in app has increased by over 270% in the last 12 months. This is a real testament to the diligent approach the team has taken in the last year. App development and experience has been extremely user centric with constant testing, analysis and iteration. Meanwhile, we’ve come to understand the ideal user type and focused acquisition efforts around this ideal, consistently increasing the value of our user base whilst scaling.


5: Does your app data give you good insights into mobile behaviour? How do you use the data to optimise the app?

As a data company, we’re lucky to have a huge amount of insight available to be used internally. All retention campaigns are optimised for the user based on their in app behaviour and expressed interests. This makes for a more bespoke and relevant experience for the user and consistently aids our long term user retention. We’re also able to model user types based on in app behaviour and run lookalike audience ads on Facebook to generate interest from similar individuals. This means that the users brought in at the top of the funnel are already more likely to become a long term and engaged user.


6: How easy do you find it to obtain app reviews and ratings?

Reviews are always a challenge but we find we have a strong community of customers who want to share their experience. We’ve found the most successful way of doing this has been through our customer service team directly asking customers at the end of their chat. A satisfied customer always leaves the best reviews!


7: Does your app use push notifications? How important do you think they are?

Our push enabled users are over 200% more active than those who are not so it’s fair to say Push Notifications are key to our retention and engagement strategies. The short and to the point messaging suits the nature of our app and we find the ability to so easily personalise and tailor content to the user very powerful. With new generations moving away from email and favouring instant message and social network solutions for communication, the importance can only grow.


8: How do you find the Scottish digital tech community in terms of networking?

I am very proud of the way the Scottish tech community work together supporting and helping each other. One of the greatest things about the Scottish people is their desire to work together and collaborate with each other. We’re big advocates of growing the tech base here in Scotland. Our CTO Jamie Sutherland helps to organise multiple events on a monthly basis and is a regular speaker about a number of topics.


9: How do you find Scotland as a place to hire mobile talent?

It’s clear that some fantastic mobile products have been built in Scotland and that knowledge is now spreading through the community, much to the benefit of everyone.


10: Do you think other companies do enough to embrace the power of mobile?

I think more and more people are starting to realise that mobile is the direction they need to head but very few are comfortable justifying the ROI. I think this has been a huge benefit for us in the past and has allowed us to grow quickly but long term I think more and more people will move to being mobile focused.


Bonus question for you Cally!  

What tip would you give companies when it comes to embracing mobile?

Make the customer experience your key priority – it must be intuitive, fun to use and over deliver on expectations.  I would also recommend that from day one you consider the data that you will be generating as this will be invaluable in helping you fine tune your app.  We harness the data we generate and provide data dashboards to retailers to help them understand their product engagement.


Thank you Cally! On behalf of all at Waracle we’d like to congratulate you on your success in the Scottish Digital tech sector.

Here’s our key takeaways from our interview:


Takeaway #1: Think Mobile First

“give users a mall in their hand”  

In today’s think mobile first world, every business should think how to give their customers something accessible to use on mobile.  For ideas, read our top 5 mobile megatrends for 2017.


Takeaway #2: Nail your Mobile Marketing Strategy

“don’t expect to go viral”

It’s important to find sustainable growth channels for your mobile app and have a marketing strategy. Why not read our 4 essentials for mobile app marketing.


Takeaway #3: Think App Store Optimisation

“constant testing, analysis and iteration”

The only way to continually optimise an app is to gather and analyse all data. Mobile app developers need to think about the whole app lifecycle. Here’s our tips on how to generate more app downloads with app store optimisation.


Takeaway #4:  App Reviews & Ratings matter more than you know!

“A satisfied customer always leaves the best reviews!”

Reviews and ratings are so important for app ranking. Between them, the top 30 Scottish mobile apps have attracted 400,000 reviews! Here’s our tips on how to create generate amazing reviews.


Takeaway #5: Push Notifications are essential

“Push enabled users are over 200% more active”

Push notifications are a great way to keep users engaged with your app and set you apart from your competitors.  Check out our tips on how to create a killer push notification campaign!


Takeaway #6:  Monitor all the data!

“Consider the data you will generate – it’s invaluable to fine tune your app”

Smart app marketers know how powerful app data can be. You really need to monitor, and react to, your app data because despite hours of planning pre-launch, users might not be using your app in the same way as you envisaged. Check out our tips on how to monitor and improve your app using data.

Over to you!

Do you agree with these key takeaways?

Perhaps you have additional questions you’d like us to ask Cally?  Let us know using #SAS30 and we’ll get back to you soon! In the meantime why not read the background to why we researched the Scottish App Stars and make sure to return to the Waracle Mobile blog for the next interview coming up with Qikserve!

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