MC18 is the next generation device for personal shopping used directly by the consumer at the supermarket. The design is an ecosystem incorporating an ergonomic, purpose built device with professional grade scanning and durability while offering a smart phone user experience and a cradle system that presents the user with a fully charged device at the point of entry to the store.
Easy to use the solution allows shoppers to experience faster checkouts and view real-time information including discounts, offers, store maps, pre-loaded shopping lists or rich multi-media content. Featuring a full color 4" display, shoppers are just as comfortable using the MC18 as they are with their own smart phones.
Great ergonomics have been achieved through the design of the handle with a single key in the central position for comfortable scanning, enabling both left or right handed use and still allowing access to the display for single handed, on-screen operations.
When considering benefits for the supermarket's operations side of the business, our research showed that the cradle element of alternative solutions was a problem as valuable real estate was being consumed by the furniture. With this in mind the MC18 cradle has been designed in such a way to provide maximum modularity all from the one cradle solution. Rotatable sockets cater for two orientations and three modes of operation. These options provides total flexibility for the supermarket to configure the cradles to suit their needs, whether it be varying front of store layouts with differing density requirements, backroom operations or desktop mounting.
Ed Hackett (Device), Mark Fountain (Cradle) - Zebra Technologies, Thinkable Studios
MC18 Hero Shot
MC18 Eco System
MC18 Application Shot - Cradle density - high
MC18 Application Shot 1
MC18 Application Shot 2
MC18 Application Shot 3
MC18 Application Shot - Cradle density - Super high
MC18 Hero Shot 2
MC18 Brand Integration
The MC18 solution was designed as a complimentary device to smart phones with customer apps installed. It is a next generation personal shopping device that was specifically designed to provide users with an elevated shopping experience. This was achieved by creating a smart phone user experience that customers can relate to, while offering industry grade hardware with superior ergonomics and durability.
Throughout the project we engaged with our customer to gain valuable insights where shoppers would use smart phones for small shops, but they become un-practical for longer durations of shopping time. Often battery life becomes drained too quickly and ergonomics challenge the handling of shopping items difficult, potentially leading to dropped and damaged personal devices. We carried out a number of Shopper interviews with both our customers and their shoppers to validate designs.
Shopper interviews revealed that customers wanted more control over their shop, with information on how much they have spent so they can manage their costs, while having visibility to offers, product details, and complimentary products. The interviews also uncovered the shoppers desire to reduce their shopping time by minimizing queuing time.
The MC18 addresses these issues by providing a full color touch screen that allows users to view the running total of their shopping-cart along with the additional information surrounding product details and offers, and complimentary products. We chose a 4" WVGA screen with capacitive touch to optimize the user's experience and provide familiarity to that of their smart phones. With increased size we still managed to spread the weight evenly across the device by carefully positioning key components in the internal stack. We chose to maintain one hard key button to keep things simple; it was centralized to preserve the ergonomics needed to be a single handed device with reach to the screen as well.
Clean, friendly styling was executed to the highest level to ensure that the device was fit for purpose yet also complimentary to our customer's environments including unique branding options on screen as well as upon the hardware.
The result: a stylish, state of the art device crammed with new features and all within a similar foot print to its predecessor.
Insights from customer meetings and retail site visits showed that there was a wide range of environments, users and use cases that the device and cradle would need to account for. The range of these can be seen below.
Environments: Small local shops, Supermarkets, Hypermarkets,
Locations within stores:Front of store in purpose built furniture, Checkouts, Back room.
This wide range of use cases created a large number of scenarios. Different scenarios required different densities and screen viewing requirements. Customers entering the store needed to be greeted by the display with friendly graphics, whereas a store shop staff would not necessarily require this. We have described some of these scenarios below:
Front of store - supermarkets and hypermarkets
Density requirement: High | Display view requirement: High
In stores with more available space designated to the terminals, it is important that users can see the docked terminal's display while maintaining a relatively dense cradling structure. This gives the shoppers a friendly and inviting engagement with the terminal and allows the customers use the terminal displays for additional advertising and branding. The display would also be used to help alert the shopper to the correct terminal that has been released ready for their shopping trip.
Front of store - local stores
Density requirement: Super high | Display view requirement: Low
In small local stores where space is at a premium, or stores with high adoption of terminals, a cradling solution is required that will offer a high number of terminals in an optimised cradle density. In these situations the cradle density out-weighs the need for a shopper to see the display.
The Checkout (Combine cashier with self checkout)
Density requirement: Super High | Display view requirement: Low
Once the shopper has completed their shop, they need to return the terminal at the checkout (this can be a self checkout, a conventional checkout, or a customer service style checkout). At this point it is a requirement that the terminal can then be placed into a cradle that will both hold the terminal but also charge it. As these terminals may be at the checkout for some time, if the terminals are not being charged, they would need to sit in the cradles at the front of store for longer charging, delaying their release for shoppers. The checkout is a small confined space where foot print is at a premium. At staff manned checkouts, it would be a member of staff that would return the terminal into the cradle. At a self checkout it is likely that this would be done by a shopper.
The Back Room
Density requirement: Super High | Display view requirement: Low
In some stores that carry out the picking element of online shopping, associates would need to use the devices to carry out this process. In this scenario the members of staff would use terminals dedicated to this task. These would be located away from the shoppers in the 'back room' of the store. Here the screen view is a low requirement and cradle density would be very important due to the lack of space.
Having found all of these scenarios we addressed this complicated problem by designing it so that there could be two cradle orientations as well as a rotatable cup. This allowed us to address the new density requirement, along with a much higher, super density criteria where keeping the display screen visible was not critical. This is all achievable from the modular ecosystem.
The cradle was designed with a front fascia and a 3 socket uni-body design that offered superior strength, quicker installation and a screw-less aesthetic. With this in mind we also strove to create an easy to service modular cup for future maintenance.
As part of the user experience the system design allows for the cradles to be locked preventing shoppers taking a device prior to swiping their account card (or account login) into a kiosk. Once swiped it chooses the device with the most charge and the light ring around the socket indicates which device has been released along with optional audio feedback from the device to create an intuitive indication as to which device to take. We took care in designing this to be aesthetical yet practical for the shopper. It had to be visible and clean, part of the combined design of the cradle.
The final result has created a unique design that can be built into a multitude of furniture designs with a pleasing aesthetic.
Overall we believe we have designed a truly immersive eco-system with a smart new look to the personal shopping system within supermarkets.