Since the COVID-19 pandemic, online grocery shopping has become essential in people’s lives. Supermarkets face pressure to provide a digital shopping experience that parallels in-person shopping. PLUS is a unique supermarket that must overcome this issue. Our task was to enhance PLUS’s digital platforms and boost the brand online.
PLUS is a cooperative business, where 300 entrepreneurs each run their own supermarket. When customers order their groceries from PLUS, the goods come directly from the stores in their neighborhood.
Each store also offers local products that are unique to that location, and which are loved by the community around the store. These are handpicked by the entrepreneurs who manage the store.
The local products are different in every store, and they rotate on a regular basis, and updating the latest product selection online requires significant effort.
The other problem takes place during the ordering process. Aside from phone calls, there is no other way for them to reach each other. Therefore, communication issues often occur between the employees and customers.
To find pain-points in the current digital space of PLUS we conducted a UX analysis: dividing each page into key tasks. With this knowledge and with the help of a benchmark of our competitors (Albert Heijn and Jumbo) we could understand their strengths and weaknesses compared to PLUS. Field research to several PLUS branches in combination with surveys helped us to gain more insights in the behaviour of customers, employees and franchisers.
By combining our findings with the data from the market research that was provided and scientific articles1,2 we put together a swimlane diagram that helped us understand the experiences and interactions that each party has during the shopping process. This made it easier for us to decide where our solution should step in.
We went through several rounds of ideation using methods like the Lotus Blossom technique and Crazy 8's. We wanted to generate as many diverse concepts as we could because the problem area was relatively open-ended and we didn't want to restrict our solution. The latter method also assisted us in deciding which characteristics we wanted to reflect in our design.
We contextualized the thoughts using the visual metaphor of an "ecosystem" because we had numerous ideas that were spread among the three user groups. The overlapping areas in this picture represent the touch points of contact or interaction between the users; this is where we draw the line of communication or interaction between them.
In the prototyping phase we designed several flows and tested these on usability. Due to this we could iterate on a better design.
"Can I have the URL of this prototype, please?" — User tester
In addition to streamlining and enhancing functionality for franchisers and PLUS personnel, our goal was to promote awareness of and use of the mobile application for PLUS customers. We developed innovative concepts that benefited every party involved in the shopping process.
By incorporating a personalized approach into the app, we were able to translate the values of the actual PLUS stores into the digital space. The features we implemented are future-proof and make sure that PLUS is able to scale up their business online.
We designed a portable lightbox in which entrepreneurs can photograph local goods. To upload these photos we created a new section in the PLUS app for the employees and entrepreneurs.
Giving delivery people access to an organized view of their orders to be fulfilled was essential. In this simple overview, they can also spot items that are out of stock.
We added a chat function to the mobile application, where customers can communicate with delivery persons about their orders. They can also independently make selections for replacement items at a time that is convenient for them. To quicken this process, we added an AI-powered feature, so that when customers search for alternatives, suggested options will pop up based on user input.