Inventory at the Wine Shop

My Role

I was to provide user interface designs to help the developers with the production of an inventory application. I wanted to make sure I had good reasons behind my design and evangelized Design Thinking practices to help with my task.

Understanding the Problem

I was asked to help with their inventory application, which they had already started using designs created by our Front End Developer. I studied the existing designs and did a small interface inventory.

I wanted to understand the current design decisions that were being made by the team and product owners so I could understand the lay of land and make a game plan on how to move forward.

I found they were using as best as they could Apples Human Interface Guidelines to direct their design decisions. While also trying to reference company branding, creating design patterns that related to the companies website and following previously developed applications.

Initial Inventory Screens

My Game Plan

Understanding where the team was currently with the application my game planned formed more around design thinking. I planned to:

  1. Understand the business of the client and all the other applications that had already been created for them.
  2. Research and question the product owners about what they wanted out of the new application so I could hone in on their goals.
  3. Learn about the users and their behaviors that would drive how the application is used.
  4. Work with my team and their product owners to create user stories that would help guide the rest of the project.
  5. Ideate
  6. Prototype
  7. Test

One thing I’ve learned, as this was my first real project to work on, was that Design Thinking encompasses many practices and facets of UX Design, but it’s imperative to be strategic and plan use of those practices that will benefit the project the most.

Understanding the Business

I wanted to understand the other products that had been created by the team, the user experiences and how those different products might interject into the new project. I found applications and set ups for their Dashboard, Stocking, Product Lookup, Local Delivery, Bin Locating, and Will Call log and sweep.

Interviewing the Product Owners

Understanding what product had already been deployed, I turned towards researching the current inventory process, interviewing the product owners and the associates who were involve in it.

Though I had worked over 18 years in retail I quickly learned every company is different and you have to dive deep to really understand how they are unique, what their business needs are, what their users’ needs are and how to maximize results.

I also interviewed them to understand what inventory preparations were being done, how the stores were set up, how the shelves were numbered, and what data points in their system could help them get a more accurate inventory count.

I learned having an accurate count through inventory was one of the most important aspects of their business. If they take care of their on-hand quantities, customers will always be at their doorstep and then they can focus on customer service.

Another point of interest was understanding the use of SKU’s and UPC’s in the wine industry. Not all wineries place a UPC on their product. Which means users need the ability to search for product by lookup. This meant using the pre-existing application for product lookup.

Understanding the Users

I never discount my personal experiences, and I hope I don’t let them override the users’ experiences as being the most important. I really wanted to understand this user. I initially believed the users like wine, like retail and like sharing their favorite wines. Some of this was true.

I learned the users definitely like alcoholic beverages of different types. I also learned that the majority of the associates were full time. They earned a good wage with the company and take pride working for K&L Wine Merchant, however retail isn’t their passion nor their endgame in life.

I found out the users dreaded inventory!

The associates main quarrels with inventory was it took too long, taking them away from their families in the evenings and the process was old school. They knew other retailers had better inventory practices and wished for something to help them out.

I could not get my team and product owners to find time to help with user story mapping. I wish I could say I did, but I didn’t. I learned then that the best laid plans are only great if you share and create them with others and get their support from the beginning.

Even though I performed this exercise alone and could have done it much better, it allowed me a better view of the project. It also helped pin down main tasks and goals when it was conveyed to the product owners.

User Story Mapping performed solo

Expanding and Refining the Design System

Being that much UI had already been created by my Front End Developer I did have a general aesthetic already laid out for me and I felt as ease jumping into low fidelity wire-framing.

Looking back and now having done other projects, I regret not having done wire-framing for this project. It would have increased my efficiency and allowed for quicker ideation and testing.

Because this was an iOS project, it was imperative to our Product Owners that we stick as closely to Apples Human Interaction Design guidelines. At that time I was still relatively new but was grateful to have a Front End Developer (even though she was in Dallas and I was in Gilbert ) that I could meet on a regular schedule to go over and verify the UI to make sure it was current and consistent across the board.

Components Library

I created a component library to help easily iterate. Having a components page also gave me the chance to explore the styling of the UI. The company only used iPhone 6 at the time for this application so the designs were created accordingly.

Component Sheet
Changing graphics to flat style imagery

Feedback

It was great working with the Product Owners and their associates because they were also able to give us realtime feedback in meetings and on our Adobe XD review online links.

Venmo’s calculating pin pad.
Inventory with a calculating pin pad.

Feedback based on the Prototype

  • They found the Venmo inspired keyboard worked well. They were excited to see it in action and hoped to see it carry over into how they operated the sales register.
  • They noticed some of the pop-up phrases were a little confusing. We worked the copy out with the manager to make sure it was more consistent to the experience of working in a retail wine shop.
An affordance that gave our wine enthusiasts panic
A not so full affordance, but still quite full.

Release, Observation and More Testing

After testing and changes were made, and the product went into release for K&L Wine Merchant, my Project Manager, my backend developer and I flew out to San Francisco / Redwood City to be present during inventory. It gave me a chance to do some observation and some contextual inquiry for the next project.

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Matt Weaver

Matt Weaver

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Im an outdoorsy, INFJ, UX Designer who ❤ to research and share his findings. I also ❤ to crochet, draw, read, hike, and explore new places.