A UX approach to a better Grocery-shopping Experience
Woolworth is one of the two most popular grocery chains in Australia. Along with Coles, they are a duopoly of supermarkets, with one situated in every corner.
While researching and analysing the brand, I stumbled upon their mobile app. As I leafed through their google reviews, I could see a problem space emerging. The underlying message hidden beneath all the harsh reviews was that there was a need for a UX intervention to address the customers pain-points in their shopping experience. As a UX designer, I decided to analyse the App and propose possible solutions to address the various pain-points.
This is a self-initiated project that is purely for the purposes of learning; It does not reflect the opinions or intentions of the brand.
1. To explore the human-centered design process through evaluating the usability of the app.
2. To understand the users behaviour at every stage of the grocery shopping experience.
3. To enhance the usability of the app to better capture the user’s objectives.
ANALYSING THE APP
The problem when dealing with an online grocery store is dealing with the magnitude of products on offer. Sorting through the different products to find something can be overwhelming.
When shopping in-store, there in an implicit understanding that you are going to spend the time, money and energy to physically interact with the products. There is also an added advantage of familiarity and availability of help at all times. On the other hand, the opposite is true for shopping online; There is a perception that the process is going to be quick, easy and hassle free. Thus, as an online retailer with a large inventory of products, it can be a challenge to create a seamless experience for the user.
To test the app in a real world scenario I decided to make a quick shopping list for ingredients of a dish I was going to be cooking that evening to see how easily I could find products on the app. The app employs two methods of finding products: navigation that is similar to the aisles in-store and through the use of a search bar.
The main category page takes me to a sub category page with a long list of product variants, which then takes me to the page that shows the products as a long vertical list. Fresh veggies resulted in a list of 224 products. Without employing the search bar, finding a product can be frustrating.
Products> sub category> list of products > select product to list
It took me about 15 minutes of searching to find all the ingredients and add it to the list I created. As demonstrated, it is not a convenient method to search for products by categories when the inventory of products is so high and when the users are looking for specific products. So, why is there so much emphasis on search by product categories?.
Most grocery websites and apps employ Linking and Searching methods. The links are based on the real world shopping aisles to simulate the pre-existing mental models of in-store shopping.
Linking is the process of filtering through categories to reach the desired product; employed most successfully in online retail platforms. Searching is the process of searching for a product using the search bar; employed most successfully in social networking platforms.
Most grocery websites and apps have linking and searching methods. A study by Nielsen group determined that 50% of Internet users are search dominant, 20% are link (or browse) dominant, and the remainder are indifferent.
I then conducted User research to understand the user’s pain-points. This was done in three ways to understand how the users interact with the app and what they expect from it.
Behaviour : ‘Behaviour’ refers to observing and analysing the user during their usage of the App. ‘Behaviour’ also involves observing the users in-store, at how they navigate, how they selected, and prepared to shop.
1. Guerrilla Testing on 5 users
2. Observing shoppers in-store
Attitude : It involves listening to the users problems, understanding their objectives and expectations. The target group would have to be fairly well acquainted with the application to get valuable feedback. Google reviews was an important resource to get concerns regarding the current app. I read through the various reviews and picked out the sticking points from the various user’s grievances.
- Getting feedback from google reviews
5 acquaintances were chosen, aged between 19–28. They were given a task to complete: To create a shopping cart from a shopping list provided to them. This was done to analyse how the user proceeds to pick products — through categories or through Search or both. Items in the list ranged from ‘easy to find’ products like eggs to ‘hard to find’ products like Mayonnaise.
- 4 out of the 5 used both navigation and search to find the products in the list; Only one used search-only; none used navigation-only.
- Users who new which brand/item they were getting, were faster than customers who were browsing through the options.
- Some products like shampoo gave a list of 163 results, spread across a vertical scroll. Therefore, getting to a product was extremely difficult unless the user knew exactly which shampoo they were getting.
- Due to the size of the tile, the customer would have to scroll a lot in lists as well as in categories to see all the products.
- Onion(s) gave a search result of packaged or canned onions, whereas Onion gave a result of fresh onion. Same with Tomato and Tomatoes. Fresh veggies are really hard to find through navigation because the category shows you 224 options.
- Average time for finishing the task of creating the cart of only 10 items was 14 minutes.
Observing shoppers instore
- Shoppers who buy a lot at once, typically start off at one section or the first aisle closest to the door. The produce section is the first section near the entrance.
- Most shoppers estimate the amount of veggies they need as opposed to buying in kilos.
- Several shoppers use their phone, especially those buying large quantities presumably consulting a shopping list.
- Shoppers are quick at picking the aisle but not products. Shoppers don’t necessarily enter specific aisles unless they have to pick products from the aisle. However, when they do enter a specific aisle, they browse through the aisle relatively slowly to find exactly what they need.
Google app reviews was a great way of quickly identifying the various user pain-points from a diverse group of User’s. Several people had a lot in common to say. To sort out the commonalities, I employed the affinity map as a way to group the pain points and address them individually.
Pain-point 1: The current UI shows all product categories(virtual aisle) as one long list without the use of any visual guides to ease the navigation process. This seems tedious for a user looking for a specific product.
Pain-point 2:The current UI requires a lot of vertical scrolling in categories and lists, sometimes across 250 products which seems a bit far-fetched. Better categorisation is needed to group products together and reduce vertical scrolling.
Pain-point 3: Better integration of the ‘search bar’ in the navigation process needed.
Pain-point 4: The affinity map above outlines the various problems users face when using the lists feature. All of them would have to be addressed.
- Icons on the homescreen to aid discoverability of categories. A combination of icons and text help the user find categories faster and enhance the usability.
2. Compartmentalisation of similar products horizontally.
I propose, instead of using vertical scroll only, to use a combination of horizontal and vertical scroll. Each horizontal section is a group of similar products.
When users shop in store for groceries, they often do not definitively know what selection they are going to make, they select from a set of products placed close-by. The Choice depends on several factors such as cost, packaging, brand, reach and perception.
The mental model of a user would be to scan for a product among a group of similar products, and make a choice. Eg, Users scanning for Pringles, scan for selected flavours of Pringles and make a choice. Users scanning for apples, scan for a selected kind of apples. Hence, In the redesigned UI, to make it easier for the user, I have grouped similar products horizontally.
3. Progressive disclosure
I would be using the concept of progressive disclosure to guide the user through the selection process instead of expecting the user to work their way through. This reduces the mental load on the user, reduces the number of repeating elements on the screen and guides the user seamlessly.
The redesigned lists reduces the amount of vertical scrolling and displays the products by Aisles. User’s want to be able to remove pictures; however, I would argue pictures help identify the product faster.
1. Icons on homescreen
Use of icons as a visual aid helps expedite the process of selecting an aisle. User’s are able to recognise the categories faster than reading the names of the aisles.
2. Quick Search feature
Search is now a prominent feature integrated with the navigation process. It is more visible and feels natural.
3. Product Filters
The existing app expects the user to be certain of what they are choosing at all times. Eg, a user selects grated cheese only or sliced cheese only. The Redesigned version allows the user to make that decision while browsing through products by employing quick filters.
4. Progressive disclosure: Adding a product to a list
The existing app requires the user to select ‘quantity’ first and then ‘save to list’ or ‘add to cart’. The redesigned UI makes adding products to list easier by guiding the user through the process step by step.
This solves 2 problems: It gently guides the user in their product selection and also reduces the amount of repetitions on the screen by removing repeating features like ‘Save to list’, ‘add to cart’ and ‘quantity’.
The Lists section of the app needed a massive overhaul. The existing UI has large tiles with aisle names, ‘copy to list’ and quantity displayed on each product tile. This caused the lists to become to long, especially if users were buying in large quantities; users who did use lists usually do have to buy a large number of items. The redesigned UI has the products sorted by aisle and is colour coded to make it easier for users to shop in-store. The tile sizes are smaller which reduces the amount of scrolling.
The current UI displays the ‘checked items’ attribute at the bottom. When ‘checked’, individual products disappears to the bottom of the list. Users are not happy with this interaction. The redesigned UI shows the checked item section at the top which displays increments as the user ‘checks’ the products in the lists. Thus, reducing confusion and making it more intuitive.
This was a personal UX project done in a timespan of about 3 weeks. Given the time limit I had, I am extremely content with the outcome of this redesign case study. I acknowledge, I haven’t delved into certain key features such as Specials, shop in-store or online, delivery or pick up which is a case study in itself. However, the goal of this intervention was to understand the users behaviour and to redesign the app with a user-centred approach. Thus, achieving the goals I set out for myself.