Re-organizing the Supply Chain:
Maximizing the Accessiblity of Essential Items
The uncertainty of COVID-19 has proven to have impacted and affected many in our community both fiscally and mentally. Businesses are having difficultly staying afloat, healthcare workers are risking their lives on the front line, and farmers are having trouble selling their produce.
I was part of a design sprint team where we came up with a mobile solution to help three groups of users: restaurants, essential healthcare workers and farmers and reorganized supply chains to maximize accessibility to essential items.
In a two-week design sprint hosted by SFUXD meetup group, my project team and I collaborated to better accommodate healthcare workers' access to everyday essential foods and products while offering an alternative way for farmers and small businesses to bring in income during the pandemic.
David Braun, RJ Katz,
Daye Kim, Ashli Marie,
Daniel Pinz, & Me!
Our team's ambition for the project was to support and aid user groups that are hurting in our community using systems already in place. COVID-19 risks and changing city mandates proved to be a challenge to work around.
Our goals were to:
1. Make an app that was convenient and easy to use
2. Give essential workers control over their time and essential needs
3. Keep delivery costs low - reduce these costs by getting rid of the "last mile problem"
4. Expose the fewest amount of people to COVID-19 (ideally nobody!)
While my team members and I took on a collaborative approach and relied on each other's feedback throughout the process, we each took a lead in different phases.
My roles included diving into the UX Research, pitching my topic of focus which unanimously got chosen to pursue and Visual Design where I created Hi-Fidelity screens. In addition, I developed the clickable Prototype and QC'ed our deliverables.
With time being our biggest constraint, the team immediately jumped into ideation to begin brainstorming users, goals, and strategies that resulted in outlined objectives.
Research topics I dove into were:
How to help businesses that are struggling due to social distancing
Essential People...how to provide for their basic needs
Impacted User Group 1:
Farmers + Suppliers
With restaurants and Farmers Markets shutting down and an unsure future, both farmers and food suppliers are getting decimated resulting in lower profits and excess food waste as they are unable to move and sell produce.
We want people to get access to food, but we can’t risk the spread of this disease.
-Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti
Impacted User Group 2: Restaurants
Restaurants are struggling to stay in business pleading for help with government-mandated closures. Many are seeing profit losses across the country of up to 80%. Restaurants continue getting food, cleaning supplies and paper supplies through their business supply chains.
Some staying open are looking into expanding their offerings and services. Restaurants have been selling both produce and supply boxes to support local farmers and suppliers.
Restaurants are pleading for help as they face losses of up to 80%.
..every level of the food industry has been strained to the max.. Some restaurants and coffee shops have.. partnered with local farmers, selling bulk produce boxes to keep farmers in business, prevent food waste, and supply Angelenos with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Impacted User Group 3: Essential Healthcare Workers
Healthcare workers who are on the front lines are working across the clock, are stressed, tired, and generally don't have time to purchase food and other life essentials. They have very little extra time and very little energy to get them.
With growing numbers in cases, there is a risk of exposure in the work environment and in public places (ie. grocery stores), thus essential workers are at constant risk.
The number of healthcare workers by state shows how many essential workers are working on the front lines.
These three groups of users are clearly struggling, each facing different challenges and having different needs.
Struggling restaurants and small businesses need to generate revenue to stay open.
Farmers and suppliers need to sell their produce to generate revenue and avoid food waste.
Essential healthcare workers are overwhelmed and have demanding work schedules.
Healthcare workers on the frontline of the pandemic have unmet needs for food and other life essentials.
Is there a link between all three?
The Network: How it Works
Farmers have extra food that they would normally sell to restaurants
Healthcare providers need essentials but have little extra time or energy to get them.
Restaurants already get food, cleaning supplies, and paper products delivered to them via their business supply chain
The Essential App connects health care providers with the most essential items by leveraging the restaurant supply chain
How might we create a service to provide essential workers access to fresh groceries from local farmers while simultaneously help support smaller businesses?
How might we help alleviate stress on these three user groups' current struggles?
Reorganize supply chains to maximize the accessibility of essential items by ways of a mobile app.
The Essential Healthcare Worker
Based on the research, I established a user persona to help aid the team in focusing on one of the key users involved in the experience.
Constantly stressed she will not make it to the organic grocer
Feels guilty leaving the shopping up to her husband
Worries she may be exposing herself more to the elements when making shopping trips
Having an easy way to pick-up organic produce
Supporting local and small businesses
Fast and efficient service with minimal contact
Option to get necessities on her time
To be confident she can obtain foods to fit the family's healthy lifestyle
After coming up with a user persona, I mapped out a key wire flow (as our screens were simultaneously being developed due to the time constraint) to better visually understand how the user interacts with the app from app launch to order confirmation and to create a timeline for the workable prototype.
The app premises was simple: select a location extent, view product availability at local business, order and pick up. The goals for the user were to:
View available products
View restaurant and small businesses available for pickup
Prompt: Annie is on her last break of her long shift and aiming to pick up groceries for the week. She opens up the Essentials App and follows the flow to create her order:
When designing the hi-fi frames, the team decided on the following assumptions of the user:
The user already has installed and signed up for the app
Upon signing up, user used identification badge to verify they are an essential worker
The restaurants and stores who are involved as a vendor have the Essentials app on their system where they can update ingredients and items as they go
Hi-Fidelity MVP Screens
After the end of the two weeks, we were able to take our planned features and created screens to present in front of the panelists and other participating design teams. We ultimately helped rearrange the supply chain from a business aspect helping our essential workers.
Updated User Interface
Building on the Design
After the Design Sprint, I spent a few days iterating an improved UI and screen flow and implementing new graphics.
I placed my focus on incorporating pops of color into the call to action (CTA) buttons and graphics, softer edges, and font hierarchy for improved legibility, in hopes to appeal to users, our essential workers, for an overall better user experience.
View: Essential Worker
The experience an essential worker has creating and confirming a produce order.
Welcome Screen - Setting Location
The essential worker is met with a welcome screen where they are asked to input a few basic questions prior to getting started.
They are asked to choose a pickup range and pre-set location: current location, home, work or other.
A map shows a marker of the user's location and popular products available that day within their travel range.
Users are able to select products to add to their order as well as search for other wanted items.
Restaurants and vendors would have the app installed on their end to update to manually update items as-the-go. Ideally in the future, the app would be more sophisticated where it could automatically update.
Locating Sellers & Adding to Order
Participating businesses within the range of the healthcare professional are listed based on matched items in the order.
Users can pick and choose a business based on their preference for distance, items matching, preparation time, and store hours.
Furthermore, users can customize amounts and the number of items in their order.
Following a standard check-out flow, products and their associated pricing are outlined for review prior to proceeding to checkout.
When reviewing the order and payment, healthcare professionals have the option to edit their pick-up window.
A confirmation page displays a summary of the confirmation number, location, order details, and time for pick-up. To provide ease for the user, a call button is available to contact the business in case the user needs to change their pick-up window or to have any other inquiry answered.
This Design Sprint proved to be challenging and filled with many growing moments. Reflecting back the following were the main takeaways.
Time is no joke! So many decisions had to be made quickly with the 2 week deadline. Had we had more time I would have liked to dive more into user interviews to gain perspective and competitive analysis to see if there are any competitors rolling out a similar idea.
Being strategic with the design process. As a team we expedited the design process to meet our goals.
Thinking About the Future
Thinking about next steps, as this app get built-out in a more sophisticated way, the backend ideally would be hooked up to the restaurants' and stores' inventory systems to track ingredients and items.
I would also like to apply agile method to really push and elevate this product to be a success.