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Costco in-store exclusive app

Mobile App
UX design
2 weeks// May 2021

Costco is famous for its unique warehouse shopping experience. Although its target customers are households, the Hsinchu branch attracts a lot of college students as being located near the university. My team is curious about the shopping experience and desires to improve customer engagement.

My Role: UX researcher, UX designer

My responsibility includes conducting user interviews with Costco customers, analyzing findings, designing user flows, and creating interactive prototypes to support usability test

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Project Overview
PROBLEM

From interviewing Costco customers from Hsinchu Taiwan, my team and I found out that customers suffer from uncertainty while enjoying Costco's unique, warehouse shopping experience. 

OUTCOME

We created the in-store exclusive app to provide the assistance that customers need without being disturbed by staff and increase customer engagement during the shopping journey.

Demo: how the in-store inclusive app increases customer satisfaction

Overview
IN-APP FEATURES: SHOPPING MODE

​Customers will be notified to turn on the shopping mode as they arrive at Costco to enjoy the following services.

switchmode.gif
IN-APP FEATURE 01:
SEARCH PRODUCT & NAVIGATE TO IT

The simple and clear navigation instructions will lead customers to the product they want effortlessly

search.gif
IN-APP FEATURE 02: 
CHECK PRICE

Customers can check the price of every product if they forget by using an in-app camera, and the amount will be added into the cart.

checkprice.gif
IN-APP FEATURE 03:
JOIN THE CHECKOUT LINE

There is no more need to proceed or time wasted for checkout! The estimated waiting time for checkout will be displayed in the app, and customers can join the line right away.

checkout.gif

Design Process

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01

Research

To understand the warehouse shopping experience and empathize with users

In order to understand how general people feel about the shopping experience, we conducted a contextual inquiry to observe how users react and behave during their shopping journeys. We focused on participants' emotional fluctuations and thoughts with questions below:

Q1. What do the participants do during the shopping experience at Costco? What are their thoughts? What are the touchpoints?

 

Q2. Is it easy for participants to find a specific item in Costco?

 

Q3. Where do emotional highs and lows happen? Why?

Findings

01

Customers do not want their shopping route and journey to be interrupted

02

Customers are annoyed when they fail to find desired products or staff to inquiry about the information

03

Customers suffured from not knowing if they have to wait in a long line and the total product price

Research

Before analyzing, we created persona and user journey map to better prioritize users needs.

02

Define

PERSONA

We created a reasonable abstract user persona based on the four participants observed by picking out personal backgrounds, traits, and behavior that were shared in common.

persona.png

USER JOURNEY MAP

We illustrated four individual journey maps based on the interview results about customers' emotions and thoughts. The final user journey map was generated based on not only the individual maps but mainly on the user persona we have created.

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Define
Painpoint

Customers feel time-wasting finding products or waiting in line to check out and people who desire to pay in cash feel anxious when they do not know how much the products in cart cost in total

How might we make customers feel delightful and secure in their shopping journeys?
Solution

An In-Store shopping mode build-in Costco app

A mobile app will provide assistance for users only when users desire to interact

To help customers locate desired products within a short time and reduce the uncertainty during their shopping journey, we listed three main features:

01. A navigation system leading customers to the product

02. A number draw system for checkout to avoid wasting time queuing

03. An instant price calculation system of products in the cart

03

Design

To design an app that satisfies users' needs, I started with user scenarios and user environments.

Considering customers might be busy carrying their carts or holding a lot of products in their hands, I listed several requirements to avoid increasing users' cognitive load and make this app easy to use in their conditions:

​For UX:

  1. simplified the user flow

  2. only provides essential features
     

For UI:

  1. Make the buttons and icons big

  2. Use the context easy to understand

  3. strong color contrast to ensure accessibility

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Design

04

Prototype & Validate

SUS RESULT

We invited three participants to complete six tasks and conduct a usability test with System Usability Scale (SUS) according to their experience with the app. The SUS score is between A and C, with an average score of 75. It means people love this system to some degree but there is much improvement to be made.

Tasks
Feedback
Draw a number for check-out
Nice, but want to be notified before it is their turn
Scan a barcode and see how much they have to pay
Nice
Finding location of the yogurt
It will be better to have related keywords to be referred to while typing product names
Turn on Shopping Mode
Shopping Mode button should be more distinguishable

What will I do differently next time

TESTING AND ITERATION MAKE PERFECT.

Considering the app often displays full of products on the screen, I tried to maintain minimalist while designing. However, the SUS test score is lower than expected as some of the users cannot find out the button to turn on Shopping Mode. If we conduct the test earlier, we will have a better idea of how user perceive this design and their expectation to make the design more user-friendly.

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