Shortly after our team switched to remote working following Covid-19 restrictions, we asked ourselves: How could we help essential store staff and customers remain safe during the pandemic?
Meet Count Me In. A simple customer counter tool to count people in public spaces. People working for trading stores and warehouses can sync up their phones to get an overview of their space. They can see how many people are in the store and when to make customers wait outside. Especially handy when there are multiple store entries, levels, passageways and exit points.
Besides just counting people, there are also live store stats that can be viewed from a dashboard. This lets managers make better decisions and get actionable foresight into customer and retail patterns. Who doesn't like a bit of foresight?
How did we define a meaningful user experience during isolation?
Our team at Localz had to work quickly under strict Covid19 regulations to answer an immediate need for social distancing. Our ideation sessions and planning were done remotely through Zoom and Slack calls. The product went from sketches to a fully developed customer counter application for both Android and iOS and complete operations dashboard in under three weeks.
Wireframes and flow diagram.
We worked closely with the team from Bunnings Warehouse for the pilot product. For those of us not brought up on the Aussie tradition of a Saturday sausage sizzle, Bunnings is a warehouse store, where you can find absolutely anything you need for house, building and DIY projects.
By remote interviewing and observing (from a safe distance) store staff and customers, we gathered insights and frustrations to inform the user journey and design.
We found that stores reach full capacity quickly over the weekend, along with customer and staff anxiety.
Door staff are greeting customers, checking receipts of leaving customers and managing the queue. The challenge was overlaying the task of counting a customer at these interactions and at peak times.
It had to feel intuitive for the staff to quickly view the current amount of people in the store and reach to count customers. To make the counting motion as seamless as possible, we designed big thumb-friendly buttons for easy right gesture addition and left gesture subtraction.
Clear information and messaging was the priority
To allow the floor staff to better manage queues and communicate clearly with customers, the total store count is displayed in bold colour-coded numbers to inform capacity levels. By setting the capacity of a store within government regulations, staff are notified when the store is getting too full and when customers need to wait to enter.
The colours of a traffic light were implemented as a user mental model to swiftly convey the concept of continue, careful and stop. A green customer count is within the store's capacity. Orange is close to capacity, and red will display once the store threshold has been reached.
It had to be simple.
A low barrier entry question at the start of the user journey is all that it takes to set up a store counter. This allows people to get going without having to handover personal details or passwords. Once inside the app, settings and menu options can be explored. We designed with hybrid patterns in mind to cover Android and iOS interfaces.
Count Me In user flow
Why is this info useful?
Store traffic can be downloaded and shared across networks to manage and better understand the role of spatial distancing during pandemic times. Retail traffic is broken down by 15 minutes intervals allowing full data visibility to all the brand’s stores within, close to, and over customer capacity, assuring the safety and security of employees and customers.
Customer counter dashboard with overview and reporting
As a person who prides myself on my shopping ability. I know it’s important for the people working in essential spaces to make informed decisions for the well being of their workplace and staff.
As our ‘social distancing’ regulations evolve, so will our experiences in-store and online. With more insight into this behaviour and our changing social needs, will come more value for product design and development. I’m hoping we can continue to learn from these trying times and help people remain informed and safe in a rapidly changing world.
Posted by Myka Hecht-Wendt