Store Advisor for Managers

 

Store Advisor for Managers, IoT for Retail

I completed the project while in Austin, TX, as part of IBM Design’s 3-month Bootcamp for new design hires.

Team members: Tayler Aitken, Emily Kehner, Laura Lascau, Andy Lyell, Alisha Moore

What I did: Competitive research, conceptual design, usability testing 

What I delivered: Wireframes, stakeholder presentations, usability reports

Challenge

To create a platform that gives managers in retail (working in operations, facilities and development) a set of tools that will help them keep track of what is happening in the stores.

Process

We started by visiting retail locations and simply observing their operations, the customer interactions, and their floor spaces. From big box to small box retailers, we quickly began to pick up on the common challenges that retail associates face, such as inventory tracking, locating customers within the store, and balancing time spent reacting to customer needs versus staying caught up on store operations.

Above you see us moving through a coffeehouse chain, but we also did a similar walk-through of a major department store. These walk through's allowed us to gain a better understanding of the associates and their day-to-day tasks and challenges.

 

Stakeholder interviews

We have interviewed a huge collection of people from varying facets of the retail space and this helped to inform our research direction and inform our insights.

 
It’s hard to keep track of what is happening in the stores.
— Global Development Manager, Coffeehouse Chain
We don’t track individual equipment, which is scary.
— Development Manager, Multi-brand Restaurant Operator
 
 
 

Persona development

In order to keep all of these interviewees in mind, we've developed 3 personas to inform our design decisions.  These three characters--Stella, Reggie, and Dana--work for a national coffee company.

  • Stella is a store manager.

  • Reggie is a regional facilities manager, who oversees 100 stores.

  • Dana is the development vice president, who has the ultimate say in implementing IoT across the brand.

Main painpoints:

  • Transparency of technology: No single platform to collect data from a variety of sources

  • Reactive decision making: Uncertainty towards new tools, leading to slow buy-in

  • No proof of impact: No analytical support to prove the ROI of emerging technologies

 

Where should we go with this?

A huge part of our design process involved sketching out rough ideas and throwing them on the walls in our workspace.  When it was all said and done, we had hundreds of concepts taped up.

 

Validation

Getting feedback from our users and watching them interact with our prototypes is what really propelled our design into a useful, usable, and delightful product for our users.  

Can I take a picture of this? I want to show my friends!
— Anthony, Store Manager, Coffeehouse Chain

We were so encouraged when we showed our high fidelity prototype to Anthony, a store manager, and he told us he'd been trying to tell his store manager friends about this project! He was so excited to get his hands on it that he even asked to take a picture to share with those other store managers.  

 

Result

The solution brings in elements of physical technology, software capabilities and design with our users' experience in mind.

Imagine if we added sensors onto the equipment throughout the stores. We could gather data from a few more significant retail sources, using beacons and sensors to understand the store itself, to understand how customers and employees are moving throughout the store, and the location of products from back of house inventory to the shelf, or in a customer's cart.