As a user experience designer at Rewe Digital, my focus is primarily on analytical and continuous development. This means that I always aim to combine user needs with the business needs of the company. Short-term successes are worthwhile, but long-term successes should be the goal.
Rewe Digital is a subsidiary of Rewe, one of the largest retail companies in Europe (turnover in 2020: around 75 billion.) Rewe Digital’s task is to develop digital services and products within e-commerce, fulfillment, and the digitalization of stationary markets. As User Experience Team, we work within an agile environment in different Tribes (eCom, Content/stationary, and fulfillment).
This case study shows how we developed a holistic journey for picking up your groceries at your point of interest.
Rewe offers a pick-up service to put together your weekly shopping online, pick it up and pay for it in the store. The purchase is stored refrigerated and is waiting for the customer to be picked up. Rewe markets are widespread in cities and easily accessible by car in city centers. However, this service can make the lives of even more people more effortless than those who live in city centers by providing decentralized pick-up stations. International examples have already shown how this can work. Pick-up stations, such as those used for typical Amazon or Zalando deliveries, can also be refrigerated and store groceries.
The advantage of such stations is obvious. The station can be set up in the periphery, for example, in commercial or industrial areas or company premises. In other words, in places where there is usually no Rewe store. This is advantageous from the user’s perspective because these stations are much more likely to be on the way home or close to workplaces than a Rewe market.
How the station works, that it meets all challenges, was not as easy as it first seemed. Grocery shopping is not as easy to store like a pair of shoes or a newly ordered smartphone. Food is very complicated to store because it always has to be kept at a specific temperature to not spoil, especially frozen food is complicated.
Then there is the challenge of protecting minors. These stations are not supposed to be a trick for children to get to alcohol quickly and easily.
In addition, there is the question of payment. Online or better at the station? We had to solve all of these problems.
For us as UX designers, the first thing was defining the technical requirements for the station and understanding precisely what is possible and what is not. Topics such as accessibility or the foiling design were just as relevant for us as finding the service in the webshop and app and communication on marketing pages and emails. So we were dealing with a very holistic project in which many interests were represented.
Our core task was the design of the user interface for the pick-up station.
Our task for the online shop was to define how to find and choose the pick-up station and the adapted checkout process for online payment.
For the user interface of the pick-up station, there were a few examples from other providers in France that were equipped by the same manufacturer. That said, the features we saw in these examples were definitely possible. We took this example as a starting point for a first user flow.
Our approach was to first design the conversation before creating wireframes and screen designs. For this, we performed a so-called “conversation exercise” to define the “conversation” between the user and the interface of the pick-up station.
The conversation exercise is a method that requires a lot of openness and imagination. We did it by first defining various scenarios that we knew we would definitely need. For example:
1) The pick-up without any particular incident.
2) The pick-up with a check of the age at the station.
3) Picking up with missing items or items that do not correspond to the ones ordered.
In this exercise, one workshop participant took on the user’s role, and another took the part of the station and literally “talked.” With the help of this exercise and its results, we defined which content, questions, or comprehension problems prevailed. If we couldn’t explain some problems simply in a free conversation, how should it work with little space on a screen? So we knew early on which issues we had to be aware of and had a few good insights for the later microcopy in the interface.
Building on this, we developed the first wireframes that we could share with the developers, product owners, and manufacturing companies to define further requirements. One question was, for example, how and when the doors open. Since a purchase consists of several types of food that need to be refrigerated differently, a customer will likely have to open more than one cell when picking the order up. In addition, such a station can have a lot of problems. It is possible that the compartments are on entirely different sides of the station and can be reached at completely different heights. Therefore, it was necessary that the user knows precisely which subjects belong to him and the issues open one after the other so that the situation is not overwhelming. After our own internal test run, we concluded that we wanted to offer assistance with numbers on the compartment doors and arrows on the screen. In addition, the doors have small flashing arrows that clearly indicate which door is to be opened.
In a UX test with recruited test subjects, Rewe customers tried it out for the first time. We tested the entire customer journey. From “finding out” about the possibility of picking up your own purchase at such a station, finding the option in the online shop/app, searching for the products, completing the purchase, and perhaps the most exciting part, picking up at the station.
As expected, we couldn’t identify any significant, as yet unknown pain points in the shop. There were isolated doubts as to how the cooling of such a station should work. Still, the users articulated the correct association in terms of content: The connection to the DHL Packstations, which are known because they are very actively used by the Germans – but not for the weekly shopping, but for the new shoes the new smartphone. The test persons elaborated the content of our idea and recognized and named one of the most significant problem areas of this idea. This way, we know that we had to explain the cooling difficulty more clearly.
Picking up at the station worked well overall. The idea that we would display all of the compartments occupied by a customer met with mixed feelings. Our concept of giving the user additional control was recognized by some test subjects but also critically questioned because the step for picking up is not absolutely necessary. We solved the explanation of the function using animations and an explanatory text, which was highlighted very positively.
It was essential to hear and understand the more minor problems and comments to have developed a product that was as sustainable as possible. Of course, there will always be further development stages, but finding out about minor usability problems helped us.
The first station is directly on the premises where our office is, enabling us to test and make adjustments again and again. The first station outside of our field of observation will be set up and put into operation in Berlin during the year. I am curious to see how this option is accepted overall and what problems we will still encounter. Especially about accessibility, there is still apparent potential, which, for example, Amazon’s own pick-up stations are already solved in a better way.