The Tower,
One-stop shopping experience
UseR RESEARCH    Journey Map    Sketch    Rapid prototype     usability testing

Project Summary

The goal of this project is to enhance the shopping experience in groceries. Instead of making a better mobile app, we wanted to achieve this goal with creative solutions. As an earlier project in my first semester, we learned a lot by finding our way to overcome a few messy challenges.

My role

In this project, I generated some useful ideas and sketches in the earlier stage which were used as a base to develop our design. Since I did not have lots of experience with UX, I wanted to learn more from others during the design instead of working as a facilitator.

User Research

Who are unsatisfied with the shopping experience? Why? Walmart, Costco, Sam's Club, why do all these different types of markets succeed?

To understand users, we conducted a first-round interview and categorized the research results into 6 clusters.

"I have a few items in my head, I would buy them as I walk around."

"Individual customers tend to walk significantly faster than customers in groups."

"I start by entering the very first aisle and go into every aisle."

"Users leave their cart in the middle of the aisle when picking up items."


In the beginning, we aimed at solving all problems found in the 1st round user research and begin our design. We dived into ideation immediately after we got insight from the user research.

We generated around 20 ideas to solve problems such as aisle design, shopping list, checkout, carts, space design, navigation, and sales.  

However, we realized that focusing on all problems means that we did not find the real pain points of the user. Thus, we decided to narrow down our problem scope.

User Research Again

We stoped our design and went back to know more about users. This time, we narrowed down our problem scope with more specific analysis and research. We found that many users wanted efficiency. They only have a few items to buy but they need to walk around all the store (because of the layout design). But they do not want shopping online cause they want to touch and pick the items.

"Walking around and finding items is wasting time."

"Shopping in-store rather than online because they were worried about the freshness and the quality of the products, as well as the time used and the extent of damage caused by delivery."

Harrison, 29, Project Manager

I love my work but it’s too busy. I wish I could lay on my bed and have a rest at the weekend

Goals & Needs:
Prepare food for the week
Spend less time shopping and have more time to do other activities.
Spend fewer efforts on shopping.

Shopping is time-consuming.
Get frustrated to find items in the grocery.
Have to walk a lot to pick up different items.
Have to use a big and heavy cart even for buying just a few items.
Feel hard to get products on higher shelves.

Task Flow

The customers' task flow is simple. It reflects customers’ goals. We believe help customers achieve their goals with less effort and less time is a good way to enhance their shopping experience.

User Journey

After we had an appropriate design scope, we wanted to identify where are touchpoints that we can improve customers' experience.

Journey map is a good tool to identify when users have
a bad time when walking through aisles and finding items. They also feel bad when they have to wait in line and check-out with all the items by themselves.

Introducing You, 'The Tower'

“The Tower", an innovative solution for your next shopping experience. The tower will be a fully standalone single shopping aisle experience. It includes four rotating shelves. 16 most common bought produce is launched on the shelves. Users can buy necessary products with The Tower without walking and spending time in finding items.

Rapid Prototype & Testing

A physical rapid prototype can be very helpful in this design because it is not just about mobile apps.

We made a prototype in 2 hours with cardboards, pictures, poles, desks, etc. The prototype was operated by us so that it can stimulate the function as a real shelf. This helped us identify usability problems and refine the design.

Some of the problems we identified:

Placement of the control button in the panel: One of the users said her arm got tired from the procedure: pressing the button, moving the arm up and then down to place the item on the conveyor belt and then back to the button.

The rotating speed of the shelf: Some users said that the speed was too slow.

The width of the shelf: Some users said that the shelf size seems really small.

Self-checkout or register:  Some users prefer to have a register so that they do not need to check-out the items by themselves.

The use of the button: Some users did not know they should keep pressing the button to rotate the shelves but they could learn it quickly.


One of the most difficult challenges in this project was the problem scope. In the beginning, we identified many problems and wanted to solve all of them. We dived into the design stage as soon as possible. However, it turns out that no problem could be solved appropriately if we targeted on solving all problems. Defining an appropriate problem scope is extremely important because it could affect all other works in the project. And this is proved to be true in my project management course in the third semester.

We also found that built a dirty prototype with available materials is quick, easy, and very useful. With cardboards and poles, we identified many problems and improve our design. This is much better than discussing the design for hours with nice and pretty sketches.