In late November, 170,000 people descended upon San Francisco for the 2019 Salesforce Conference, Dreamforce. Thought leaders and pioneers spent four days exchanging ideas, getting inspired, and attending packed sessions that explored how to use Salesforce to take their businesses to the next level.
One session was a fireside chat between Marc Benioff, Co-CEO of Salesforce, and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.
Cook opened the conversation by discussing how businesses are leveraging Apple's tools for their own enterprise needs, noting that "eight in ten companies are writing custom apps for their enterprises." Then he mentioned H-E-B:
"H-E-B is the largest private employer in the Longhorn State, over 100,000 folks or so, and incredibly innovative. We're really proud to be working with them. They're using apps for everything…Grocery is changing in a major way and they're really leading the charge here…a good example of a company that’s using [apps] to transform their business."
So how and why did we create apps to use across the business—not just to drive our main business?
At H-E-B our "secret sauce" is our employees, aka our Partners. We constantly invest in them—and the tools they use—so that they can focus on helping our customers.
But here's the thing—there's a wide variety of sauces at H-E-B.
Our in-store workforce is large and diverse—from a high school student working part-time to a certified meat cutter who has been with us for over 30 years. We need solutions that solve problems for both of them, and everyone in between.
One unifying factor: Our Partners are rarely at a computer. They're on the floor helping our customers. How do you create mobile solutions that work as well for store leaders as they do for bakers and cashiers?
Enter Salesforce and Apple, whose technology we were able to leverage to create functional solutions—and a unified app—that help our stores (and our Partners) run more efficiently.
We started out using Salesforce to provide reports to our store leaders, and then realized we could expand its capabilities. We decided to create an enterprise app that offers a host of features that improve operations.
Our PartnerNet App enables employees to manage their schedules, time-sensitive inbound requests, tickets to keep the business moving, and more—all from their iPhones. We've streamlined multiple systems, sunset older applications, and reduced the need for third-party solutions, improving not just our own processes, but our Partners' lives.
At the top of the life-changing list is MySchedule. This feature allows Partners to view their hours, post or pickup shifts, or request time off—no matter where they are. No more waiting for their next shift or making a special trip to the store just see their schedule.
That's not to be taken lightly.
Previously, the only way to know if shifts were available was to drive to the store. Partners might drive out of their way on their day off just to find there were no shifts available. Today, it's the most-used feature of our app suite, with Partners accessing it one million times per month.
MySchedule gives our Partners flexibility—which is just as useful for a college student with an ever-shifting schedule as it is for a mom who needs to make an adjustment for childcare. The benefits trickle down. Not only does it provide our Partners with more earning potential, but it means fewer shifts go unfilled, making for a better in-store experience.
The app doesn’t just help with scheduling, but with everything that happens once a Partner starts their shift. With the app, our store leaders can track and manage maintenance requests, log work orders for equipment, and monitor progress without opening a third-party tool. On the sales floor and want to provide feedback on a product? Partners can send feedback about products right to relevant parties in the app, too. Those notes are invaluable—we count on our most loyal customers, our Partners, to help us learn what's working and what isn't.
We're using these same tools for our grocery-specific needs, too. Salesforce powers our Food Safety Record tool, which uses Bluetooth technology to monitor the temperature of items produced in-store (e.g. rotisserie chickens) via iOS devices.
Besides looking much cooler than an old-fashioned meat thermometer, it simplifies the process for our Partners: automatically tracking data to ensure all food meets required safety checks and alerting them if measurements are out of range.
Dreamforce was filled with inspiration for PartnerNet's future and how we can continue to build a robust platform for our Partners. And we're leveraging all that same technology for our customers as well—our new app offers an improved experience for placing Curbside and delivery orders. We're pushing every day to make shopping better and better.
Today over 55,000 Partners use the app weekly, up from 41,000 in October. And that's just the beginning. These Partners provide crucial feedback, letting us know where to focus our efforts as we iterate and build a tool truly tailored to them.
Because, at the end of the day, that's what matters. An enterprise app is great, but if it's not solving the right problems, our Partners aren't going to use it. And if they aren't using it, there are no accolades that make it worth the investment.
Brad Poyntner is the Director of Technology. You can connect with him on Linkedin.
We keep our head in the clouds—but we keep some of our data in our own, on-prem data center. Tour the tech hub that powers all of our systems.
What does it take to fulfill our digital fulfillment dreams? Read about the foundational changes our team tackled to help get you your groceries faster.