Streamlining the Self-Checkout Grocery Process.
For a class project at SVC, our four-person team was tasked with researching the current self-checkout process at PCC and determining if it was working as intended. As PCC adds more self-checkout kiosks to their stores to cut down on the length of checkout lines, it is important that this process work properly. We noticed that the current self-checkout system was not efficient or being used as intended.
Conceptualizing Checkout Process
So What’s the Problem?
Self-checkouts tend to be popular at grocery stores. This feature allows for a speedier shopping process based on total time spent in the store; however, most people who use self-checkouts have fewer items in their cart. In our research, it was discovered that customers felt the self-checkout gives them complete control because they can pack their own bags and ensure that their products are properly handled. Note, however, that the presence of a self-checkout doesn’t always mean that it is successful or easy to use.
In fact, after conducting user interviews, we learned that 3 out of 10 respondents who used PCC's self-checkout system felt it didn’t work properly. Of those surveyed, 27% were frustrated that they had to wait for customers ahead of them in line to finish their transactions, while 38% avoided the self-checkout if they had produce items, which would have to be looked up. Others (22%) were irritated because they had to wait for a staff member to assist when a problem arose.
Finally, 14% admitted that they had trouble navigating PCC's self-checkout system as a whole. While most shoppers have embraced the self-checkout option and support the growth of the system, the data from our survey participants revealed that there was still much room to improve the overall satisfaction with PCC's self-checkout system.
Each member of the team was assigned a task to help streamline the process. My part of the project was to improve the produce lookup process. Over the five-week class, we observed and interviewed users, created personas, researched competitors, conducted testing, and created a final presentation.
- Easy to browse movie selection.
- Very minimal design.
- Easy to navigate to different sections of the app.
- Very easy to use service.
- Minimal navigation design.
- Easy to complete task at hand.
- Categories clearly identified with the use of icons.
- Clean modern design with bright colors.
- Nice UI placement with no need to scroll.
With user testing revealing produce lookup as a major pain point because of the overly complicated interface, I knew that I needed to simplify the produce search functionality.
During user prototype testing, if a problem resulted from performing the produce lookup task, the user would be prompted to search the system for the item using a simpler approach, which was achieved by simplifying the navigational choices on the screen.
Through additional user testing, I discovered that having too many choices on the screen confused the user. So, to improve the process, I began to remove additional elements until the experience became easy and less complicated. It was clear that the fewer steps per screen, the more comfortable users felt looking up produce.
Throughout this process I learned not to assume how a customer will experience something. The critical aspect of this project that increased our understanding and helped us create something more useful came through personally engaging with customers and seeing how they experience the checkout process. It became clear to me that the self-checkout process held the role of a “10 items or less” checkout hack, and people with carts full of groceries didn’t dare try to use it.
One of the biggest challenges I faced with this project was an abundance of information and the need to narrow it so the project remained focused and streamlined. Concentrating on simpler tasks instead of trying to fix every customer problem was essential to our success. Translating the vision of the automated system from the vision in my head onto the screen also proved challenging,but was something I overcame with the help of our research participants.
Throughout this process I learned that we shouldn’t assume how a customer will experience something. The important aspect of this project that helped better our understanding and create something more useful to the customer came through personally engaging with shoppers and seeing how they experience the check-out process.
One of the biggest challenges I faced was an abundance of information and the need to narrow that information down so that our project wouldn’t become unfocused or cluttered. Focusing on simple tasks instead of trying to fix every customer problem was essential to our success. Translating the vision of the automated system in my head and onto the screen also proved to be a challenge but was something I overcame with the help our research participants.