Last week, I saw this video of a newly designed shopping trolley that uses Kinect to augment it, and think it is a great example of a design centred around perceived needs, as opposed to actual customer needs.
Could you imagine using something similar? Could you imagine a supermarket, filled with these trolleys? Trolleys bumping into each other. Noise pollution. People instructing their trolley to “stay, boy, stay!” as they leave it behind to go into a busy area.
Rather than finding out what the consumer needs, first, and basing a solution around those needs, the developers have thought about what they could offer, and have created a device that demonstrates what they can do.
What would we do differently?
Firstly, find out what customers like, and do not like about the current shopping experience. Other companies have already started down this road, and the number one complaint last year about supermarkets was the sound of “unexpected item in the bagging area”, repeated by numerous self service machines, all at once. Clearly, voice is an irritant not an aid, and is definitely not desirable on every item (“Condoms, 18 pack”) going into your shopping trolley.
Remembering your shopping list is, indeed, a great need within the shopping experience, and including this as part of the process is a good concept, but better solutions may emerge by working closely with customers on how and where they wish to be reminded, and how best they can create and share such lists with the family in other locations. For example, a list that intelligently reorganised itself into categories like groceries, and appeared in the right locations within a store, as well as directing you to those locations, might be a solution more in sync with those needs.
Needs come first, technology solutions come second. Always.