User research on Woolworths supermarket chain
Initial Problem from Woolworths
Our main goal was to Strengthen Woolworths' Brand Name by filling the gaps in customer needs and expectation to create customer retention & customer attraction.
MAKE OF THE TEAM
I worked as a lead user researcher throughout the design challenge. I was accompanied by a business analyst and a ux designer. I produced all the deliverables included in this case-study and presented it to the stakeholders.
UNDERSTANDING THE USER
Persona Representing the User Group
Woolworths team gave us the details of their customer feedback from their research on what was wrong or what could be the problem
▸ Shelves were often out of stock
▸ prices were rising
▸ meat and vegetables were past their prime
▸ customer service was poor
▸ and popular brands had been removed from the shelves
Keeping the problem provided by Woolworths in mind, our design team visited 30 supermarkets including Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, and IGA (around 15-20 mins observing customer behaviours, checkout counters and shelves) for a week between 5-7 PM as well as Early morning (Ideal time for shopping: before and after Work). We then observed the behaviour of shoppers and added it to our notes.
Note: It was just a plain observation, nothing detailed
Woolies checkout counter
What was obvious during these observations was that out of seven checkout counters at most of the Woolworths, at least five of them would have little to no customers for more than two hours. However, the case was completely different to their competitors as we found their service checkout counter full of customers.
Customers at checkout: other competitors
Main Takeaway from this observation:
As reported by the Woolworths team, the fact validated that Woolworths was indeed loosing its customers to other competitors or wasn't able to make their store appealing . However what was interesting is the reasons provided by the marketing research team for lack of customers wasn't adding up i.e. shelves were found restocked and we weren’t able to find any expired product during our observation. We hypothesized that there were way too many competitors right next to Woolies stores, which might have divided the users who used to be loyal.
We also came up with 5 persona's based on this observation which were referred throughout the whole strategy-design process to recruit/validate our ideas.
ETHNOGRAPHIC OBSERVATION &
Observation notes, taken while shadowing shopper
With our written consent signed, We shadowed our shoppers, the observation notes above is the documented form of what we observed during the shopping experience.
We also used an empathy map to understand our user needs and to develop a deeper understanding for who we are building solution for. The images below shows persona and Empathy map for two of our users.
User Persona and Empathy from regular shoppers
Rough guidelines for questions
We planned and created journey map for all shoppers-personas but we wont be able to include everything on this project. During this process we figured out: for some customers, the journey started right-off with Woolworths while for the others it started only when they couldn't find their desired item at other stores (competitors)
For instance for Paige even though her ideal shopping destination was on Coles. she wasn't able to complete her journey based on her expectation, and that was when she decided to give Woolworths a go. During this shopping experience with the competitor we tried to gain her insights on what excites her, what made her decide Coles was better than Woolworths, what would make her journey successful and what were the pain points we could improve.
Journey-Map for user (Paige) with respect to their shopping experience
We had initial problem handed-in to us and the problems the we hypothesized at the begining after the general observation. Now that we collected enough data on shoppers habit, observation, their behaviour, their journey plan, and some insights from their interviews, it was time to narrow down what needed to be done in order to increase retention and what hinderances they were facing. For this we used Affinity wall and categorised users problems based on their nature.
Summarised Affinity wall that represents all the problems
We classified problems of similar nature gathered from the affinity wall based on users journey/interviews and populated the table below. We thought this would help us deal with them individually and in a way that we could diagnose them on the basis of the structure (which part of Woolworths, does it concern to? management, stakeholders, store-front or customers habit) to help us design the strategy.
|Pain Points||Relating to|
|Product||• Expensive products
• Missing regular items
• Items too big
• Expires before the usage date
• Heaps of Irrelevant items.
|Store location & Layout||• Crowded Stores
• Frequently Changing Aisles
• Hard to find specific items
• Stores way-too large to find any items.
|Competitors||• Closes way too soon
• Not convenient (location wise)
• Hard to find Parking-Spot
• Competitors (right next to each-others)
• Price difference (with competitors)
Re-framing the Problems
Based on our conversation with Pedro, his problem (Woolworths not being his ideal shopping centre) and implementing the n(whys) technique, we could clearly see that the problem wasn't on the customer side or the store instead it was a problem relating to size of product which needed to be fixed from suppliers side. This method was perfect for us to direct the problem based on the nature
5why interrogative technique
To prevent the unnecessary cluttering of this case study and to reduce the reading time, we haven't included every bit of questioning section in this part. The problem statements below is how we re-framed the initial problem statement to question.
Reframed Problem Statements
After brainstorming for solutions and filtering out actual ones that would solve the problem, we came up with the solution that could potentially work:
Having a place that would store byte-size goods and only the goods that are in high-demand in that region would potentially solve the problem. Making the store open till late would also solve most of the shoppers problem. I decided to take these solution one step ahead and thought all of these mini solutions could be further accommodated using one solution: a convenience store.
Solutions to overcome problem
Prototype - Woolworths convenience stores (solution)
With our first set of prototype and with the help of few other role-play artists we executed role-play in front of stakeholders, decision-makers and different level of UX researchers. This role-play exercise included costumes, name tags, 3d model and props to provide the ingenuity.
Since the script alone would consume half of the portfolio page, we decided to include only first couple of pages of role-play script here. The rest of the script for the role-play can be requested using the form at the end of this case-study.
At the end of the role-play exercises, few of the senior researchers came up with recalibration possibilities for the strategy suggested, which were also considered and taken into an account.
All of the research data, solutions and prototypes were handed-in to the Woolworths group. Since this project was extremely big and had to be implemented from the higher-level and it required approval from all the board members , we couldn't get the initial feedback. Our suggestion to Woolworths group was to test the idea on one store for a couple of months and see if it would be successful.
Update: Although we can't be too sure about it (since Woolworth is not vocal about how they came up with the idea), Woolworths decided to rollout Metro by the end of 2016, which practically follows same concept and idea and so far has been proven to be successful.
After the introduction of convenience store format Woolworths group has increased retention by 17% of that to the previous year (just within metro) and they decided to open six new Metro stores according to their Annual report for the year 2017
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