Impact Stories / PlaceMakers


Building a Digital Future

Best Design Awards - Silver Indigo Awards 2021 - Gold

PlaceMakers is New Zealand's leading and largest supplier of building materials and hardware.

The New Zealand building industry has traditionally used phone calls and retail branches for the ordering and fulfillment of building supplies. PlaceMakers had a strong desire to lead the industry into a digital future, starting with a new mobile app for their trade customers to use alongside their call centre, branch sales, and service channels.

Apolinar's Contribution

Working closely with Fletcher Distribution as a trusted Human Experience partner, in just three weeks we:

  • Assessed and analysed PlaceMakers’ existing strategy, research and insights. 
  • Facilitated a Co-Design Sprint, using design-thinking workshops to challenge the team to reimagine a new mobile Human Experience for PlaceMakers’ trade customers.
  • Delivered an interactive prototype for the new mobile app in a day.
  • Conducted end user interviews with trade customers and frontline staff at multiple PlaceMakers branches the next day to get feedback and validate the decisions made in the workshops, and to help refine the prototype for an improved Human Experience of the technology.
  • Created a digital style guide and assets to handover to the software development team.
  • Continued to support the product and software development team throughout the project as new and changed features were prioritised.

The Results

Three Weeks to a Whole New Way of Working

  • In just three weeks, the PlaceMakers team had a prototype for the first version of the mobile app release.
  • The prototype was used to align stakeholders and proceed straight into the software development stage.
  • Apolinar set up a DesignOps pipeline, Digital Style Guide and produced high-fidelity designs, which developers used to commence development within two weeks of the Co-Design workshop.
  • The user testing feedback from real builders and frontline staff focussed the delivery team on the features that needed to be prioritised and allowed for rapid improvement.
  • The pilot rollout had minimal changes due to Apolinar’s work in engaging customers and validating the Human Experience during the first week of our engagement, saving PlaceMakers time and money.
  • Post-COVID-19, the app is helping PlaceMakers continued success by allowing trade customers to order and manage fulfillment, including contactless pick-up and delivery, and has become critical to the ongoing success of both PlaceMakers and their customers' businesses.