What will supermarkets of the future look like?
Unitec product design student Amie Holman has drawn on her own experience as a supermarket checkout supervisor to design an app she hopes might one day become a grocery shopper's most valued companion.
"I've been working in the supermarket environment, and then I got promoted to supervisor, where I had to deal with all the grumpy customers," says the Bachelor of Design graduate.
"I began to learn more about their problems and found myself wondering how, as a product designer, I could make changes to the status quo."
Her final graduate project is a prototype app that includes a GPS to track progress around the supermarket floor, a favourites shopping list, recipes, the ability to track spending and Onecard points. Products are scanned in the aisles or earlier to avoid queues and nasty surprises at the checkout. Consumers can also use the options provided to shop for detox, vegan, gluten-free, and weight loss diet foods, as required.
According to Holman's research, the "happy times" of a shopper's journey occur in the aisles, which is why she focused her app in the pre-checkout phase.
"People truly love to shop. Anxiety levels tend to peak at the checkouts, because of queues and the payment itself, so my challenge was to find a way to prolong the bits people like," she says.
Progressive Enterprises has supported the project and expressed some interest. Holman says while it's far from finished – the database information required is enormous and coding alone could take many months – the business benefits are tangible.
"Imagine an application that gives you up-to-the minute information about supplier specials. 'Hey, you buy this pet food, we'll give you $2 off if you buy it today', that type of thing. That's an efficient way to reach customers, and an attractive feature for shoppers. Having a more user-centred experience is becoming the way to attract customers."
She hopes to take her supermarket ideas to master's level. "My friends downstairs are making pens and bowls and furniture and giant chairs and things for sitting outside in the sun. I'm kind of the weirdo of the group, I'm more your conceptual, interface-y user experience side of things. It turns out it's my cup of tea."
Her work will be exhibited at the Unitec Grad Show, which opens to the public at 5.30pm and runs on Friday and Saturday.