We were given ten weeks to reimagine the future of the buying experience and come up with a solution to solve a problem that we have now about shopping.
User Experience Design / User Interface Design
Dane Galbraith, Angela Martin, Dylan Jackson
What I used
Figma, Adobe Creative Suite
Small businesses are slow to adopt social media and are not keeping up with the market. As a result, they're missing out on the product sales, buzz, and expanded community.
We created Locale, which is an outreach solution that allows small business owners to spread the word about their business to their local community, through every corner of the web.
Gen Z shoppers desire a social media presence:
“Generation Z isn’t just looking to buy your products, they’re also looking to tell everyone else about it. If there is no way for them to do so, your business could still do well, but you’d be missing out on thousands of dollars in free publicity.”
Small businesses can easily react to change:
“Small businesses are more nimble than larger businesses and are better able to adapt as market conditions change. Because small business is closer to its customers, it is in a better position to hear feedback and observe changing preferences.”
Shopping local is on the rise in popularity:
“In 2018, U.S. consumers reported spending a record high of an estimated $17.8 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday. Over the years, Small Business Saturday spending has now reached a reported estimate of $103 billion since the day began in 2010 — that's $103 billion over 9 days alone.”
Shopping local is environmentally friendly:
“Locally owned businesses make more local purchases requiring less transportation, and set up shop in town or city centeres which generally means less sprawl, congestion, habitat loss, and pollution.”
We took a look at some competitors to see if anyone in the market was already solving the issue. We picked the top three competitors to be inspired by moving forward while taking the lessons we learned from each.
We then mapped out the area of opportunity on a “Usability” and “Functionality” graph to show us where our area of opportunity is. We discovered that there is an opportunity to make a solution that does just enough but is incredibly simple to use.
Secondary Research Insights
Local businesses are isolated.
Local businesses still exist in a “word of mouth” public relations system and often don’t hold much footing in the greater retail world.
They’re technologically outdated.
Sometimes it’s by choice, and other times business owners don’t have the new methods readily available to them or the funds to afford new systems.
There’s no easy way to shop local online.
We love to browse online and shop in-person. How can we connect the natural flows of product searches within the local community?
Competing with big corporations.
Big companies are still here and continue to dominate the economic and social forefront of shopping.
Primary: Generation Z, Small Business Owners
Secondary: Parents of Generation Z
6 users, 4 business owners
22 local stores
Primary Research Insights
We affinitized what we got from our primary research, and we got it down to 7 insight points.
1. All six of them said that they would love to shop local more than they do, but parking and transportation is a major factor that prevents them from doing so.
2. One interviewee specifically said she shops local at home due to the convenience of being able to walk to stores from her house.
3. If an item is only a few dollars more expensive, they do not really notice.
1. Payment is difficult, there are many different laws.
2. Turning profit is hard.
3. Websites are important, but they are hard to make and maintain. Social media is even harder.
4. Stores have very specific markets.
We had the opportunity to then take our data and affinitize to find more insights and a clear direction. From our gathered insights, we entered the ideation phase.
182 Yellow: Data Points
18 Green: Sub-Categories
5 Pink: Categories
One Stripe: Header
To summarize our research, we found that small businesses face a variety of problems to stay afloat in the market. Primarily, we learned that without a steady client base, small businesses fail.
We started with addressing problems and unmet needs from the How Might We?s.
How Might We
...show current stock, predicted stock and prices to customers in real-time?
...track inventory levels to provide accurate data to the consumer?
...simplify the process of setting up an online store?
...create a chain reaction of local shoppers?
...simplify the process of buying from an online small business store?
...convey the personalities of small businesses into a digital platform?
We wanted to create a business solution for companies seeking assistance with social media outreach and sales. All business owners have to do is take a picture of their product (with the assistance of an AI bot guiding them to the best possible picture) then with a little bit information (like product description and price) the AI bot is able to create a fully customized post with a description, geotags, hashtags and more. This allows more local buyers to view company products and make more sales via the Instagram plug-in. The app also drives more foot traffic with more business exposure driving people into the stores to check it out or pick up their orders.
Prototypes & User Testing
With the ideas and the concept we had, we started to design them. We started from paper prototypes, then did the first round of user testing, and went on with our digital prototypes.
User Testing with Paper Prototypes
“I have a very clear idea of what I’m doing here. I would love this! I never buy anything from major stores on Instagram but would LOVE to buy from local stores that I see.” – Carrie Anna Kuldell
“I really enjoy this idea. Buying local from Instagram is brilliant and this solution is so simple to use. It’s great.” – Andrew Bretnall
“The user flow here is really smooth and I feel like this is something I would actually use in my day to day life.” – Jessica Wheeler
Low Fidelity Wireframes
User Testing with Low Fidelity Wireframes
“A new way to shop local using something a lot of people are already using sounds like a wonderful idea. And what a great way for small businesses to get more customers.” – Andrew Bretnall, UX
“This sounds like a super cool concept but I’m worried that you’d lose that homey feel of it being a small-owned business. Like, I wouldn’t want the posts feeling robotic.” – Connelly Morris, UX
After the few rounds of user testings, we started to design the final version of our prototype. Throughout the process of designing, we realized that there were some things we needed to keep in mind.
1. Make sure the onboarding is as simple as possible.
2. Put chores that can be done later elsewhere.
3. Establish more hierarchy.
4. Don’t overcomplicate things.
What I Learned
Through this project, I learned that there are some things that I'm passionate about, but I'm just not aware of it. When our group first decided to work on the local shopping experience, I wasn't the biggest fan of the topic. However, the more I worked on this project, the more I got interested in the project, and when we got to the finals, I was very proud of our project, and myself. From now and on, I'll be open to every topic that I can get my hands on to.