The onset of the COVID pandemic has brought uncertainty and anxiety to grocery stores as social distancing and health concerns undercurrent the shopping experience.
The Calendar Shopper is a Google Calendar plug-in that integrates Amazon Whole Foods online grocery shopping platform with social events through collaborative shopping lists.
How might we bring excitement and peace of mind to grocery shopping while navigating the challenges of social distancing and COVID safety concerns? We aim to design an experience around grocery shopping within the landscape of the pandemic while negotiating values for our grocery stores and users alike.
Our solution is a plug-in extension within Google Calendar, which allows for seamless integration into the planning stage of social events where the user lists what items they want to purchase along with event attendees. Through Google Calendar events users can look at themed events, browse their recommended snacks, and go into further product details. While looking at snacks within an event or individual products, users would be able to add the item to their shopping list.
The pandemic has turned the experience of grocery shopping onto its head, now shoppers care about safety, travel, and minimizing in-person contact over other aspects of the shopping experience.
People are not browsing as much due to pandemic safety concerns, lack of sales, rush to finish grocery shopping and lack of samples. A large portion of sales within Whole Foods have traditionally been impulse purchases and other means of customer spending. There is great value for our clients and for our users to bring back the excitement of grocery shopping instead of rushing through the process.
To gain an understanding of the current state of grocery shopping during the pandemic, our team conducted directed storytelling interviews with 15 participants. We asked each participant to walk through their grocery shopping experience, from planning their trip to traveling back home.
Based on each participant’s response, we created individual customer journey maps to represent their unique grocery shopping process. We then consolidated our data to establish our research goals, plan of action, initial findings, and continued research.
After our individual interviews, we synthesized our findings into one cohesive customer journey map. Our goal in this discussion was to understand common pain points, overarching desires, and areas of opportunity for our client: grocery store owners.
To convince our client that this market space would provide value, we composed a scenario that highlighted our customers’ pain points as well as an aesthetic and concise journey map. The client problem we propose is that customers are not browsing or trying new grocery items due to pandemic safety concerns.
Customers generally construct a mental model of what they need to purchase via mental or physical lists
Customers feel more satisfaction from grocery shopping, and grocery shop owners generate greater revenue from impulse buys
Shoppers feel guilt during impulse purchases related to individual consumption
Social events encourage item purchase by thinking in terms of finding new and interesting snacks for the event instead of the logistics of the purchase
With our insights, the team ideated around the opportunity space of socialization as a vehicle for impulse purchases. We iterated on a solution that both brings revenue to the client grocery store while supporting item purchases for users, all the while keeping to pandemic safety concerns.
We created a solution that lives within Google Calendar as a plug-in. It allows users to collaboratively create shopping lists for socials. These listed items can either be purchased online to deliver or used as a reference for in-person shopping.
Within our calendar plug-in, we have a preset event selection page for a new calendar event. Connecting snacks to a specific event will help the user assign a purpose to their browsing, decreasing guilt and negative associations towards the snack-purchasing process. Connecting to the Google Calendar app will help users keep their snack list in one place. Our event selection page allows users to find snacks tailored for their specific event.
We want to encourage users to browse for personal-use snacks as well. To avoid any hesitation towards using the calendar extension as a personal shopping list, we added an “Add to Personal Shopping List” option that will consolidate the user’s list of snacks without displaying the personal list to other guests.
We create value for grocery stores and Google Calendar by bringing food shopping into an area that was previously focused only on social events. We uncovered the potential for expansions that would delight customers by organizing an office party or a Thanksgiving potluck.
In order to ascertain unexplored values within a holistic experience, it would be beneficial to think about more tangential aspects of the main problem space.
As the team unearthed more and more insights regarding the pandemic era shopping experience, we were able to pivot the project to better elicit value for both client and user.
A good design goes wasted without a built-in method of transitioning to the desired state. Continuously thinking about how to pitch the design to relevant stakeholders is a great way to ensure the value of the design is well communicated and increase the chances of its deployment.