Innovating Food Ordering for Sheetz Customers
A CUI that allows customers to order from Sheetz in their cars
Duration: Sept. 2019 - Dec.2019
Role: Service, UX and Conversation Designer
Team: Akash Jatangi, Alice Li, Jared Trinkler,
and Anna Yuan
Result: CUI and GUI Prototype
We designed an innovation that centers around using Conversational User Interface (CUI) for Sheetz customers to order while driving to reduce wait time
It's 8:50 in the morning, you suppose to be at your office in 10 minutes and yet you are driving fast on a highway in the hope of you won't be late. Once again, you skip your breakfast. The thought that spending 15 minutes in a convenience store waiting to order, to pay and to pick up scares you.
We designed a Conversational User Interface (CUI) for Sheetz customers to order from Sheetz while driving. The value of using CUI to order while you are driving is for both customers and the employee. For customers, it means no wait time. For Sheetz, it means that more customers are willing to purchase food at the store, which leads to increased revenue.
Watch our video demo here!
As part of a team of 5, I was a Product Designer. Some of my contributions are as below:
- Planned and conducted in-store observations
- Conduct secondary research including literature review and competitive analysis
- Created artifacts such as service blueprint and conceptual model
- Owned the design of Conversational User Interface
- Planned and conducted four experience prototyping sessions
- Created lo- to hi-fidelity prototyping of the GUI interface; Redesigned the interface individually after the course was over
- Designed the script of the final concept video
Discovering the Opportunity
Sheetz's Product-Service System is centered around its Made-To-Order Food
We began our process by conducting secondary research based on key information provided in the client presentation. We discovered that Sheetz is a suburban brand, its offerings centers around Made-to-Order (MTO) food and its customers drive to Sheetz to purchase.
Pain points: customers wait to order, pay and pick-up
After deciding to focus on MTO food, we took a field trip to Sheetz and observed 3 customers ordering food. Combined with secondary research, we mapped out a customer journey map that synthesized the pain points we discovered: it might take 20 minutes to complete an order during rush hours.
Validating the Opportunity
Is long wait time a problem worth solving?
What are the business impacts of reducing wait time? With these questions in mind, we conducted literature review, gathered online data and conducted case studies to understand the value of reducing wait-time.
Implication of literature review
- Why: Expectation of wait time, length of the queue, customer density and waiting environment can impact significantly a customer's perception of wait time.
- How: Sheetz can innovate the environment of the store and set expectation of zero wait time to stay on top of the business
Implication of online data
- Why: Most customers expect wait time to be under 5 minutes. Customers are more likely to test our a new offering and refer the brand to others when the wait time is low.
- How: The reduction of wait time can be tied up with a customer loyalty system.
Implication of case studies
- Why: Starbucks mobile pay-to-go and rewards program results in an 11% revenue increase year-over-year; Amazon Go with its zero wait time is disrupting the retail landscape
- How: Sheetz can also innovate by using technology to reduce wait time and set the expectation of zero wait time.
Framing the Solution
Ideate 20+ ideas on how to reduce wait time and land on the CUI idea
Inspired by literature review and case studies, we thought about 20+ ideas of how might we reduce the wait time.
We finally landed on the Conversational User Interface idea. Combining with other ideas, it can reduce wait time when selecting, ordering, paying and picking up.
Based on the validated problem and proposed solution, we identified the opportunity as below:
Leverage the rise of voice assistants and trend towards immediate fulfillment to stay ahead of the curve.
Use service blueprint to portray the desired future
In order to further conceptualize our idea, we created a service blueprint for the desired future to understand the changes in both front-end and back-end in our proposal. We received positive feedback from our client.
Validating the Solution
Drivers accepted the idea of ordering using CUI while driving very well
It seems like a bold idea. How do we know that customers also accept this idea?
We designed an experience prototype session to test our ideas: four students who know how to drive were asked to play a driving game while ordering from their favorite restaurant. The driving game meant to stimulate a real-life driving situation, as well as to provide a distraction. One member of the team played the CUI the participant is interacting with.
An affinity diagram shows us that people have high acceptability of ordering in-car using CUI and high expected efficiency of CUI.
Developing the Solution
An iterative process of prototype, test and learn
During the course period, we conducted two rounds of usability testings to evaluate the design decisions, but due to the limited time, usability issues remained. So after the course ended, I continued to improve on the design with 5 users.
Conversational User Interface (CUI) Design
In the experience prototyping session, I synthesized two conversation flows. I also built an Intent-Utterance-Slot mapping to catch people's intention while ordering.
We tested with 3 users by having them interacting with the CUI while they are in the car. The feedback we got mostly positive. One area of improvement was to add more personality into the bot.
What did I learn from usability testings?
I designed a Think Aloud protocol to test the effectiveness of GUI. Five key tasks are given to users:
- Reorder the same item from last Tuesday
- Add "the big mozz" (a type of hamburger) to your favorite
- Add "MTO burger" to your shopping bag and check out
- Set up CUI
- Use CUI to order