From 2007-2011 I served as Visual Designer, UX Designer and Art Director for ZoomSystems, the leader in automated retail. During my tenure I defined the visual and UX guidelines for all Zoomshops, conducted field research, and administered usability studies to improve and enhance the customer experience.
Problem: How do you introduce a new retail technology (robotic retail) into a market and public physical spaces and train them to understand how to use the machine (find the product and transact)?
Solution: As a UX Designer and Art Director, I was responsible for defining usability and interaction standards in the GUI (touchscreen interface). I had to develop methods to make it extremely simple for any type of customer (young and old) to understand the interface and buy what they wanted. We ran many experiments and I developed research techniques for observing in public spaces like airports and subways. I also created video for the tv screens which would serve as beacons to run commercials for products. We tested many brands. To improve deployment time, I also developed a templated design and build system to reduce the time it took to launch a machine. This included a strict UI design system which would incorporate a brand’s identity and a dynamic text/image loading system. My job was multi-faceted in I had to understand product demographics and develop new ways to attract and guide users on our machines. The challenges we faced were holistic in that visual design and branding, UX/UI, physical space and position, and products all were factors in determining the success of the machine.
Interesting Ah-has: We couldn’t include price tags on the physical products in order to have dynamic pricing that could be updated remotely on the GUI. Thus helping people map what was in the case to the GUI was a challenge. We had to use everything from specific category systems to diagrams. Coercing a customer to spend up to $600 at a vending machine in a public space is challenging. We had to include disclaimers and policies that would gain trust as well as design the UI to really look like it was the brand speaking thereby instilling brand-trust in the customer. In Japan, it was difficult to train customers how to use a credit card scanner. The physical interface was touchy and we had to test several animations and videos to explain exactly how to use it. Once a customer failed, that was a threat to losing them forever, thus we had to be very strategic and precise about our language and how we instructed on the GUI.