Australia’s largest supermarket chain
More than 961 operating stores
111,000 team members
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
Initial Problem from Woolworths
What should Woolworths do differently in their retail network(store formats, products/services, digital service offering, customer experience etc.) to improve customer loyalty and retention? – Woolworths
Woolworths, Australia’s largest supermarket chain were finding hard to compete with other rivals (big stores and brands) such as Coles, Aldi and IGA. On top of that, the supermarket chain also observed a massive decline in the number of customers who used to shop regularly at 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 an information architect and a strategy designer. I produced all the deliverables included in this case-study and presented it to the clients (for every iteration).
UNDERSTANDING THE USER
Sure Woolworths is an Australia’s largest supermarket chain, sure anyone capable of shopping could be a potential user, but hey we can't design for everyone.
To narrow down our user group we conducted brainstorming session. Each one of us sat down with a pad of sticky notes and wrote down different user groups for potential users. We then assembled and arranged the sticky notes in a grid based on the amount we expect to learn from that group of users and Ease of access. Based on our result, we decided to target the group of user who we thought were worth solving the problem for i.e. Shoppers between the age of 20-25 Years Old and currently employed.
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 &
We screened and recruited 5 shoppers with characteristics of our eventual customers within 20 KM radius. We then got an Informed Consent document signed from our research participants in order to shadow their shopping experience.
As a form of compensation to the users we had two options in mind: either to pay for their next grocery shopping, or to provide them with gift-card.
We decided to go with the gift-card option which were to be provided at the end of the observation/interview session, because letting them know that we will be paying for their grocery would very likely influence their shopping habit. Meaning, some users might purchase things that they don't need at all, while others may restrict themselves. This might lead them to shop differently than their regular shopping habit.
Instead of giving our recruited users, time and location we asked our customers to inform us the next time they are going grocery shopping, our idea behind this again was not to influence users with our ideas, or put them on a test condition, rather to let them do everything naturally, as they would on regular basis.
We won't be able to disclose all the information from our contextual interview due to ethical considerations, but the deliverables provided below are the takeaways from some of the shoppers behaviours and their shopping experience.
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 a journey