During my attendance of the Designers Identity program the team and I had the chance to work with Albert Heijn, the biggest supermarket chain in the Netherlands. The assignment given from Albert Heijn was to enrich the proposition of shopping for the elderly by increasing the ease and the social experience of shopping. Our client wanted us to have a extra focus on the experience of morning shopping, as this particular time of day is when many elderly choose to do their shopping. We had two weeks to come up with a impactful solution that would surprise AH headquarters.
In order to get a grasp on the life of the elderly and their wants & needs we decided to ‘Context Map’ the whole situation. Not only did we focus on the store and the elderly but also on other upcoming factors within the whole playing field, like: the neighborhood, the other customers and the employees. During these two weeks we were given access to an Albert Heijn store in Utrecht (Händelstraat 63) in order to conduct research on the target group and to test the prototypes we would build.
Albert Heijn allowed Tim and I (Mark) to work as employees in the physical store at the Händelsstraat in Utrecht. This gave us the opportunity to frequently observe, interview and test with our end-users. The first few days we used the ‘Fly on the wall’ technique. We tried to blend in as much as possible to get an idea of what a normal working day at the Albert Heijn store looks like. We socialized and talked to the employees as much as possible to gather their unique insights. At the end of every working day it was our job to report back to the group with our ‘deliverables’. These deliverables contained insights Tim and I gathered during our incognito working hours.
We needed a solution that would blend into the customer journey more seamlessly. To make this as easy as possible we wanted to use items that were already available in the store, in our case: the iconic Albert Heijn blue baskets. We transformed 11 baskets into an “Ik help een handje-mandje” (I’m Able to Assist Others Basket). These baskets stood out from the normal baskets because of their bright pink design and text on the side which contained the phrase: “Ik kan helpen met…” (I can help with…) By adding a visual cue to an Albert Heijn product that every customer uses, other customers that seek assistance during their shopping experience had a clear indication of who to approach.
Because we left the intended purpose of the statement open for interpretation we ended up with some pretty interesting conversations. The customers we interviewed came up with their own preffered ways of helping someone else in the store, maybe a bit of advice or other totally random positive answers. Wrapping up the project we presented our research, insights and prototype at the Albert Heijn headquarters with all the stakeholders involved. We accompanied this with two deliverables, a printed customer journey map and a booklet containing all of our data and findings for future reference.
A short and concise summary/ list of the services we provided to get Albert Heijn to it’s desired outcome / goal.
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