Unite

Upon investigating the experiences of university students, we uncovered the that there is a pain point grocery shopping within shared households. The coordination of individual needs and preferences frequently results in logistical hurdles. Recognizing this, we believe that the traditionally cumbersome task of gathering everyone to compile a single online shopping list can be transformed into a seamless shopping experience.

Our aim is to streamline this process, making it more efficient and less time-consuming for all involved.
Role
UX Designer
Problem
Shopping for groceries in multi-occupancy households often proves to be a tedious and time-consuming task, requiring considerable coordination among residents. This process is particularly challenging for busy individuals, those with limited motivation, and students managing tight budgets.

The current methods for coordinating grocery lists and purchases lack efficiency and do not effectively accommodate the diverse needs and schedules of household members, leading to duplicated efforts, missed items, and unnecessary stress.

This inefficiency highlights the need for a streamlined solution that simplifies the consolidation of individual shopping lists into a single, manageable order, enhancing the grocery shopping experience for all involved.
Goals
User Goals
Ability to distribute costs according to individual food.
Easy coordination for ordering.
List sharing and bill splitting.

Business Goals
Create a functional digital booking and ordering platform for groceries.
Gather market share of food delivery space (Deliveroo, Uber Eats etc.)
Project Timeline
8-13 Months
Reflection Summary
The most rewarding aspects was seeing how a simple yet effective solution could transform a routine task into a seamless experience. It was gratifying to validate the hypothesis that a collaborative approach to grocery shopping could effectively reduce the time and effort involved, particularly in shared living situations (and especially for the "Lazier" groups of users). This would have solved the problem for myself and made my own life much easier if it had existed.

However, the project incurred difficulties surrounding technical and resource restraints which added an extra layer of complexity.

This work is covered under an NDA and as such this case study will not include mock-ups, however if you have specific questions, I can discuss certain aspects further.
Overview
Upon investigating the experiences of university students, we uncovered the that there is a pain point grocery shopping within shared households. The coordination of individual needs and preferences frequently results in logistical hurdles. Recognizing this, we believe that the traditionally cumbersome task of gathering everyone to compile a single online shopping list can be transformed into a seamless shopping experience.

Our aim is to streamline this process, making it more efficient and less time-consuming for all involved.
Research Insights
To identify problems that exist in current supermarket orders and how users deal with orders within a shared household, I sent a survey to over 350 individuals living in shared accommodation revealed (62% of which were university students in shared houses).

After analyzing the results, it was clear:

A significant interest in an app that simplifies the coordination of grocery shopping.

Common frustrations included the duplication of items, missed items due to lack of communication, and the inconvenience of managing separate orders.

A strong preference for features that allow for easy list sharing, order consolidation, and cost splitting.
A Selection of candidates were picked from the survey and interviewed, insights were gathered on the specific needs and desires for the app and drilling deeper into problems and pain points.

The app needed to be flexible and precise for budgeting and easy to use

Interest in a feature that allows for budget tracking and equitable cost distribution among housemates.

The need for a flexible system that accommodates both shared household items and personal preferences.
Key Insights
To identify problems that exist in current supermarket orders and how users deal with orders within a shared household, I sent a survey to over 350 individuals living in shared accommodation revealed (62% of which were university students in shared houses).

After analyzing the results, it was clear:
76% interest in an app that simplifies the coordination of grocery shopping "Doing the weekly house shop with my housemates is such a pain"
 Duplication of items, missed items due to lack of communication, and the inconvenience of managing separate orders were common frustrations when ordering groceries includes
List sharing, order consolidation, and cost splitting were essential items needed in the app

Essential to have a way to see who's item was substituted "there is nothing worse than when you are missing an item you don't even realize another housemate has taken the substitution"
Competitive Analysis
An examination of the market showed that while many grocery delivery services existed, none offered a solution focused on the dynamics of shared household shopping. This gap affirmed the unique value proposition of the app, emphasizing collaborative planning and ordering.

There were no immediate "direct competitors", the closest competition fit into two categories. These were the standard food delivery / takeaway companies and supermarkets that had online shopping
Positives :

Geographic Reach :
Strong presence in urban areas, which can be beneficial for targeting similar demographics for grocery delivery.

Restaurant Partnerships : Strong partnerships with premium restaurants could be mirrored in a grocery context to form partnerships with high-quality grocery stores.

Order Flexibility : Offers the ability to schedule orders in advance, a feature that could be adapted for scheduling grocery deliveries.
Negatives :

Collaboration and Sharing :
Like Uber Eats, Deliveroo does not offer functionality for multiple users to contribute to a single order, missing out on the potential for household grocery orders.

User Interface Clutter :
Users sometimes report that the app can feel cluttered, especially when filtering through extensive menus, which could translate into a less streamlined experience for grocery shoppers who need simplicity.
Positives :

User Experience :
Uber Eats offers a smooth, intuitive interface that is easy to navigate. This is crucial for ensuring users can find and order their desired items quickly.

Integration : Seamless integration with Uber's main transportation app can attract users already familiar with the Uber ecosystem.

Real-Time Tracking : The app provides excellent real-time updates on order status, which enhances user trust and satisfaction.
Negatives :

Lack of Collaborative Features :
Uber Eats does not support creating orders collaboratively, which is a core requirement for the scenario described. All orders are individual and cannot be easily merged or shared.

Limited Customization : The app has limited options for adding detailed preferences or instructions compared to what might be needed for grocery orders that require more specific selections.
Positives :

Wide Range of Options :
Offers a broad variety of cuisines and partnerships, suggesting potential for diverse grocery inventory.

Ease of Use :
The interface is generally user-friendly, emphasizing straightforward navigation and order placement.

Promotions and Deals :
Regularly features deals and promotions, a tactic that could effectively attract grocery shoppers looking for savings.

Negatives :

No Order Customization for Collaboration :
There is no built-in mechanism for multiple users to interact or collaborate on a single order within the app.

Inconsistent Delivery Times :
Users have reported variability in delivery reliability, which could be a concern if applied to grocery delivery where timely delivery can be more critical.
Supermarkets (amalgamation)
Positives Across Supermarkets :

Wide Range of Products :
All supermarkets offer extensive product inventories, essential for catering to varied consumer needs and preferences.

Loyalty and Rewards Programs :
Tesco's Clubcard, Sainsbury’s Nectar points, and Asda's integration of savings rewards encourage customer loyalty and repeat business.

Quality and Variety :
Known for high-quality selections, these supermarkets satisfy a broad customer base and maintain high standards.

Technological Integration :
Advanced features like search filters, loyalty integration, and various delivery options (e.g., in-store pickup) enhance user convenience.
Negatives Across Supermarkets :

Limited Collaborative Shopping Features :
None of the platforms currently support real-time collaborative shopping, which could allow multiple users to edit or contribute to a single order simultaneously.

Delivery Slot Limitations :
Customers often face challenges with booking convenient delivery slots, an area that could greatly benefit from more flexible and user-friendly scheduling options.

Inconsistent User Experience :
Users sometimes encounter navigation difficulties and inconsistencies in the app, especially during peak usage times, which can lead to frustration and potentially lost sales.

No Order Customization for Collaboration :
There is no built-in mechanism for multiple users to interact or collaborate on a single order within the app.
Recommendations
Based on the competitor analysis, here are key recommendations to enhance the grocery shopping app :

Collaborative Shopping Features :
Develop robust features that allow multiple users to add to, edit, and finalize a single shopping list (and/or cart) collaboratively. This should include permissions management to control who can edit or view the list.

User Interface Simplicity :
Ensure the app remains uncluttered and easy to navigate, despite potentially complex features like list sharing and item specifics.

Real-Time Tracking and Communication :
Implement real-time tracking for order status and delivery similar to Uber Eats, ensuring users are always informed.

Promotions and Deals :
Integrate a system for showcasing deals and discounts prominently, helping users save money, a critical factor for students and budget-conscious families.

Quality Partnerships :
Emulate Deliveroo’s approach by partnering with reputable grocery stores to ensure product quality and customer satisfaction.

‍By learning from these established players, the grocery delivery app can better meet the specific needs of households planning their grocery shopping collaboratively, offering a tailored, efficient, and enjoyable user experience that solves the key problems.
Persona
From the insights gathered in the interviews, we created our persona, Kevin.
Demographics:
Age : 20 years old
Gender : Male
Education : Undergraduate student, majoring in Computer Science
Location : Urban university campus in the UK
Living situation : Shared student accommodation (private house share - 5 people)

Background:
Kevin is in his second year of university, living away from home for the first time.
He is on a tight budget, partly supported by a student loan and a part-time job at the campus library.
Balances academic responsibilities with a social life and part-time work.

Technological Proficiency:
Highly comfortable with technology, uses a smartphone and laptop daily for both academic and personal purposes.
Prefers apps that offer a seamless, intuitive user experience and are quick to navigate.

Goals:
Save time on grocery shopping to allocate more hours to study and social activities.
Stick to a tight weekly budget while still eating healthily.
Reduce food waste by buying only what is needed.

Challenges:
Limited budget for groceries and other essentials.
No car, relies on public transportation or walking, making large grocery hauls inconvenient.
Inexperienced in meal planning and cooking, often resorts to instant meals or eating out.
Organization of weekly food order is hard due to multiple people's schedules.

Likes:
Apps with clear discounts and savings visible.
Simple, quick meal recipes that fit a student budget.
Flexible delivery options, including same-day delivery.
User-friendly interface with efficient search and filter capabilities.

Dislikes:
Hidden fees or high minimum spend for free delivery.
Overly complex app interfaces with too many unnecessary features.
Poor quality produce or items with short expiry dates.

Shopping Habits:
Prefers to shop weekly to manage budget and reduce food waste (minimal effort as well).
Looks for deals and prefers to buy items on sale.
Occasionally splurges on convenience foods for late-night study sessions.
Values ethical and environmentally friendly shopping options when they are affordable.

Personality Traits:
Budget-conscious but willing to pay slightly more for convenience or quality.
Social, enjoys gatherings with friends, often volunteering to organize food and drinks.
Resourceful, always looking for hacks and tips to make student life easier.
Lazy, always looking for the option with least effort so he can focus on other things.
User Flow
1. Opening the App:
Jonathan opens the app and logs in using his credentials. The home screen displays several options including "Start New Order", "Past Orders", and "My Lists".
2. Starting a New Order:
He selects "Start New Order". The app prompts him to choose between starting a personal order or a household order. Jonathan chooses "Household Order", and the app directs him to a new screen where he can create a new shopping list.
3. Creating a New Shopping List:
On the "Create New Shopping List" screen, Jonathan inputs a name for the list (e.g., "Weekly Groceries") and sets a submission deadline for all household members to add their items. After naming the list and setting the deadline, he taps "Create List".
4. Adding Items to the Shopping List:
Jonathan is directed to a blank list with an "Add Items" option. He searches for items by typing in the search bar or browsing categories. As he finds each item, he selects the quantity and adds it to the list. For specific preferences (e.g., brand or product type), he adds notes to each item.
5. Inviting Household Members:
Once Jonathan has added his items, he proceeds to invite other household members to contribute. He selects "Invite Members" and chooses contacts from his phone or enters their email addresses manually. Each member receives a notification with a link to join the shopping list.
6. Monitoring List Progress:
Jonathan can view who has added items and who hasn't. He sends reminders to those who haven’t contributed as the deadline approaches. The app shows a live update of items being added, allowing Jonathan to monitor the list's progress and manage duplicates or unnecessary items.
7. Finalizing the List:
After the deadline passes, Jonathan receives a notification that the list is ready for review. He reviews the list, making any last-minute adjustments, and then selects "Finalize List". The app asks for confirmation since this action prevents further changes.
8. Submitting the Order:
With the list finalized, Jonathan proceeds to "Checkout". Here, he reviews the order summary, selects a delivery slot, and chooses a payment method. He confirms the order details and submits the order to the supermarket.
9. Order Confirmation and Tracking:
After submission, Jonathan receives an order confirmation with an estimated delivery time. The app allows him to track the order's progress and receive updates until the groceries are delivered.
10. Post-Delivery:
Once the order is delivered, Jonathan confirms receipt through the app. He has the option to rate the shopping experience and report any issues with the order.  
User Testing
Prototyping and iterative testing focused on usability and feature relevance:

Initial feedback on a low-fidelity prototype highlighted the need for an intuitive interface that minimizes learning time.

Subsequent rounds with higher fidelity prototypes addressed navigation and interaction design, refining the process of adding items, viewing the shared list, and finalizing the group order.

Final testing emphasized the checkout process, ensuring clarity in how orders are grouped and providing options for payment splitting.

Results
Post-launch, the app demonstrated its effectiveness and user appeal through:

Increased efficiency in grocery shopping for shared households, with a notable reduction in duplicate purchases and forgotten items.
Positive user feedback on the app's ability to facilitate communication and coordination within households, leading to smoother, more organized shopping experiences.

A measurable improvement in user satisfaction, particularly in how the app supports diverse dietary and budgetary needs within shared living arrangements.

Lessons Learned and Design Decisions

As a solo UX designer, balancing the wide range of user needs with a clean, intuitive design was challenging.

Key decisions involved: Prioritizing core features for the initial launch, such as list sharing, real-time updates, and order consolidation, while planning for future enhancements like budget tracking and personalized dietary settings.

Simplifying the user interface to support quick, on-the-go interactions, which was particularly appreciated by users with busy schedules.

Implementing feedback mechanisms within the app to continuously gather user insights, facilitating ongoing improvements and feature additions based on real-world use.
Difficulties
User Diversity: One significant challenge was designing an interface that could be easily navigated by a diverse user base, from tech-savvy students to less digital-savvy families. This required numerous design iterations and testing to ensure the app was universally intuitive.

Resource Constraints: As a solo UX designer, managing all aspects of the design process from research to testing was often overwhelming. Budget constraints occasionally forced compromises on certain features, impacting the initial scope of the project.

Data Privacy Concerns: Integrating features that required sharing and storing personal dietary preferences and shopping habits raised concerns about data privacy. Addressing these concerns while maintaining user trust was a delicate balance that required transparent communication and robust data protection measures.

Technical Integration: Ensuring seamless integration with various supermarkets' inventory systems to update the availability of items in real time presented serious technical challenges.
Next Steps
Feature Expansion: Based on user feedback and the initial success of the prototypes, the next steps would involve expanding the feature set to include advanced functionalities for power users such as meal planning integration and recipe suggestions based on the items in the shopping list.

Geographical Expansion: The current version of the app is limited to specific regions. A key next step would be to expand the service to additional cities and countries, broadening our market reach and adapting the app to different shopping habits and dietary preferences across regions.

Partnership Development: Developing partnerships with a wider range of supermarkets and local food suppliers would enhance the diversity of available products and potentially reduce delivery times, making the app more attractive to a broader user base.

Technology Integration: Integrating with multiple grocery stores in one order is an area to explore for users taht order get food from multiple places.
Reflection
Reflecting on the project, one of the most rewarding aspects was seeing how a simple yet effective solution could transform a routine task into a seamless experience. It was gratifying to validate the hypothesis that a collaborative approach to grocery shopping could effectively reduce the time and effort involved, particularly in shared living situations (and especially for the "Lazier" groups of users).

However, the project also underscored the complexity of designing for diverse user needs. Balancing simplicity with functionality was a constant challenge, especially when ensuring the app remained intuitive for users of varying tech-savviness. It was a powerful reminder of the importance of user feedback in guiding the design process.