Monday, January 14, 2013

Where the fuck are the Olives?

We naturally thirst for deeper and alternate ways to solve problems. I found these two images on separate Reddit posts recently. The caption on both was something like "Why isn't this on every shopping cart?"

Index of items by aisle.
Map of store.

All I could think was "Yup."

All this information is already in the store, technically, since the isles contain the categories, yet a map and index are useful because they'd be right in front of you, deepening the solution set and anticipating a common and frustrating grocery store problem. For example: "Where the fuck are the olives?"

Consider some of the ways we might approach searching for olives in a store:
  1. walk the edge of the store reading each aisle description
  2. walk the edge of the store looking at the stuff on the edge of the asiles and go down aisles which seem to have things which are similar to olives
  3. walk the entire store (brute force)
  4. ask an employee (or a person dressed as an employee)
And how each person might approach this problem and how one person would vary their approach based on many factors. I, for example, sometimes jump right to #4 unless I don't feel like talking to anyone then #4 is my last resort). We all know someone who would never do #4, don't we?

I *might* be overdoing the UX memes.

Also, a bigger question, what about searching problems that are more difficult than olives (search by gluten-free, kosher, good for kids, etc)*?

What's interesting about the shopping map posts on reddit (it appeared once then was reposted 9 months later) is the incredible response from the reddit community. Over 1,600 people had something to say about having maps on shopping carts, and over 10,000 people agreed with this.


Digging into the comments reveals something even more interesting. While an on-cart map is generally considered awesome and overdue, people felt grocery stores don't want you to have it. The top comments (reddit uses an upvoting system) are about how on cart maps are against store goals for earning. Check them out:

See full comments from original post


See comments from repost

Huh, so the customer experience is seen by customers to be at odds with business goals and the reason why the can't expect excellent experiences.

We know as UX practitioners, this isn't true. Excellent customer experiences are tied tightly with return on investment (if you do not know this, . In other words, companies with great customer experiences do better financially.

*Category search is vastly underrated. Speaking of category search, IMHO, the best category movie index is VideoHound; sure they cross-list actors, directors, etc (IMDB does this) but they list movies by really cool categories, such as Chicago, NYC, Soccer, Friendship etc. Vastly important when you remember  only that it had to do with Gymnastics and you saw it as a kid in the 80's. Answer: Nadia.

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