As the trend of conscious consumerism continues to spread, eco-friendly, packaging-free shops are popping up everywhere.
At unpacked grocery stores (UGS), customers either bring their own containers or buy them from the shop and fill the containers from the bulk product themselves. The filled containers are then weighed (with the container weight subtracted) and customers pay for the amount they’ve collected. An atypical experience for most shoppers, there’s a learning curve for new UGS customers: How do I shop at a UGC? Why should I shop at a UGC? And why is the price so high!?
We spent a few days at a UGS located in Prenzlauer Berg, a locality in Berlin. After speaking to store owner and reviewing UG shopper surveys, we were surprised to find that a large pain point for shoppers was estimating the price of their chosen quantity. When hearing the total sum at checkout, customers shouldn’t have to gasp for breath. To counteract this problem, we conducted user research and came up with an idea for a UG companion app that would allow UG customers to estimate their quantity and for what price.
Mapping the customer journey
We started out by mapping out the current customer journey. The most interesting observation we made was how people perceive volume; When left without the packaging, customers are faced with the challenge of estimating the amount on their own. We saw this as an opportunity to enhance the shopping experience and avoid frustration at the cashier.
Price transparency? There’s an app for that
The product and price are first determined by scanning the item price tag. Using AR technology, the customer’s product container is then measured and the price is calculated.
What’s more, the source of an item weighs into its perceived value. In fact, 46 % of consumers are willing to pay more for food and beverage products sourced under ethical and sustainable means. Since the size of labels in UGS’ is often limited, and simply naming the country of origin isn’t enough information, the app would allow customers to scan a product barcode that transfers them to the corresponding in-app product page. The product page details all the information they need to know to make a conscious purchase decision.
We have created and tested a prototype for this idea:
In an ideal world, every supermarket would be ethical, fair trade, zero waste, and have minimal non-biodegradable packaging waste. While this is still just a vision, there’s a lot designers can do to streamline the customer experience for the stores that are sustainable. Have ideas? We’d love to hear them!