Intermarche digital platform

Research, Strategy and Design of Intermarche's multichannel experience: Desktop, Mobile, Back office, Employee wearable device (2017)


Intermarche wanted to undertake a major project of digital transformation: their online sales were trailing competitors, their tech infrastructure was dated and customer experience was unsatisfactory. The goal was to reimagine the Customer Experience across digital channels such as the website and mobile apps by adopting a Service Design approach. This implied re-designing not only the customer-facing digital channels (website and apps) but also the Back Office tools used for managing the e-commerce and associated services. Working at DigitasLBi, I helped win the pitch (15M+ budget) and took on the role of Experience Design Lead on the project for one year. The following is a short summary of the design process, I can tell you more in person.


1. Research: Gain insights into the problems to solve


1.a) Field studies: Back office

We did a series of field trips to different kinds of Intermarche stores with varying sizes and degrees of digital maturity. By shadowing back office workers and interviewing I learned a lot about existing experience pain points from both the back office and end customer perspective.



1.b) Business workshops and Interviews

We conducted over 20 workshops and interviews with different Intermarche staff (Drive management, training, customer services, marketing, IT, ...) to gain a full understanding of details and issues experienced by both end customers and back office staff.


1.c) User research - Top Tasks

Our Head of UX was keen on trying the Top Tasks technique for prioritising which features are essential to customers and which ones are secondary. The process involves creating a list of all possible taks users might want to accomplish, a list of 100-150 items, and asking a large pannel (200 people) to pick the five most important to them. After much effort compiling the tasks, Intermarche decided not to allow the study to go ahead. Unfortunately this impaired our understanding of users on the following phases.


1.d) Competitive Benchmark

We collected and compared a list of functionalities across different Intermarche competitors (direct and indirect), in search of the most promising opportunities for differentiating Intermarche. The end goal of the benchmark was to set the competition's features as the baseline, and do better in every respect.


1.e) Analysing existing documentation

Intermarche had conducted a number of studies, many around consumer satisfaction, as well as some complex mind maps they had producd with another consutancy to map their first understanding of the prblems to be solved. We also looked at a lot of data on e-commerce performance and consumer profiles.


1.f) Future trends

In order to scan the horizon, we also analysed a few trend reports to feed the ideation phase with a critical eye as there is often much hyperbole around tech futures. An interesting reading nevertheless.




2. Synthesis: Condense research and define the problems to be solved


2.a) Customer Profiles

After collecting so much information it became necessary to synthetise key learnings and communicate them in an easily digestible format. Based on Intermarche's data we created a set of customer profiles, or proto-personas, to help us guide the design phase.



2.b) Experience Maps

The other key tool was Experience Maps to help us visualise key painpoints and opportunities for improvement during the different customer journeys. Below we have the initial drafts, and then the journeys for someone using the Drive service for the first time, regular Drive users, and bricks-and-mortar shoppers.


2.c) Key insights > Experience Strategy



2.d) Mapping Experience Strategy to Features




3. Generation: The North Star

Create multiple solutions to solve the problems identified, then choose the most promising ones

We adapted Google's Design Sprint method to our particular context. Armed with what we knew about current users' behaviours, their problems and frustrations, we did an intense 2-day workshop to decide which painpoints to adress with the new experience, explore different solutions and embody key brand values throughout the different journeys at the functional level. Because this was an Agile project, we would test our design solutions with users at a later stage. We had roughly 20 participants on each day, a mix of product owners, designers, strategists, business people, ...


Day 1. Inspiration and defining the problem

We started by presenting participants with the knowledge we had accumulated during the Discovery phase, as explained above. Then we let participants present examples of successful experiences and explain what made them remarkable. We listed all these characteristics on a board.


Then we listed the key moments of the different customer journeys and asked people to vote on which moments seemed most problematic to them, and explain why.

After the group discussion around painpoints, we asked participants to come up with their formulations of the problems to adress, using the expression "How might we...", and we grouped them by affinity. Finally, people were given dots to vote on the problems they thought deseved most attention.


Day 2. Generate divergent design solutions

The second day was dedicated to generating multiple solutions to the problems we had identified, and selecting the most effective ones to embody the future experience vision. We employed the "Design studio" method to get everyone to sketch divergent solutions as fast as possible on crazy-8 sheets and select their best version, and we did a group critique to explore the positive aspects of each feature or service. Finally people were given and dots to select the most promising concepts.



Days 3-10. Shaping the user interface

Once the key features were more or less defined, we could finally start giving shape to the user interface. A team of 4 UX designers and 4 Art Directors working in pairs on given subjects started fleshing out the different interface components, in an intensely colaborative way. There were hundreds of wireframes with different degrees of fidelity, and we often iterated designs straight from sketches to finished UI with Art Directors.




Days 11-15. User scenarios

Once key User Interface elements were fixed, we had to tell the story of how the new experience is going to solve user's painpoints with the new features and services, starting from user's problems and ending with their resolution. We created 3 long scenarios to illustrate in detail how each functionality improves customer's experience during their shopping journeys, with a focus on Drive customers. Here's one of them:


User scenarios made the new experience strategy tangible and were the key outcome of the North Star process. There was also a North Star for the Back Office desktop application and picker wearable device, following the same process.


4. Validation: Testing the North Star with customers

All the new product features answered user needs identified duting the Research phase and were well aligned with Business goals, but were they going to get traction with real customers? Testing the new feature concepts with users provided the answers.




5. Production: Setting up user research across 4 Scrum teams and products

After the North Star, the 4 Scrum teams started developing the new platform. My role was to lead the XD side of the process and guide the UX designer on each team. My focus was on user research and strategy, while UXers on the Scrum teams were more concerned with iterative design and production. Not all Scrum teams started at the same time or had a nominated UX designer at the beginning so I sometimes assumed that role until a dedicated person was found.

The Experience Design process had two streams, a fast short-term stream within the Scrum teams, and a long-term stream concerned with user research and strategy around future features, products or services.



6. Continuous Research and Strategy

During the production cycle I continued to conduct generative user research in order to better map latent customer needs and opportunities for future products and services. I made an Experience Map to synthesise research findings and prioritise functionalities for the roadmap.



However this format was proving problematic for displaying the relation between customer's activities, painpoints and relative importance of proposed features. So I created a new visualisation technique which I baptised Experience Rings.


Experience Rings: a new visualisation technique for mapping experiences.

My visualisation technique clusters together user goals and tasks with painpoints and the potential impact of new features for solving painpoints. Each item is scaled according to its relative importance and impact, providing a clearer holistic view than traditinal tabular experience maps. It was very helpful for showing Product Owners would have more impact than others, thus helping them prioritise product backlogs.




Innovation project: Researching a Connected Trolley

Another example of ongoing research was the connected trolley concept. Intermarche had already tried slapping their tablet app on a shopping trolley and conducted some tests on a pilot store with high precision geolocation (beacons), but results were lacklustre. We also tested their concept ourselves in order to understand how we might add value to the in-store experience.