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Building LCBO's anti-theft solution to potentially reduce millions in lost revenue each year and decrease theft in stores. 

Timeline

Feb - Apr 2023 (2.5 - 3 Months)

Team

1 Product Designer (Co-op)
1 Product Manager (Co-op)
2 Developers (Co-op)
2 Managers

My Role

Product Designer 
Design Lead

Responsibilities

UX Research
Interaction Design
Wireframe & Prototype
Product Strategy Thinking

Some of my work from this internship is under an NDA, thus some information has been removed to protect the company's privacy.

OVERVIEW

Company Background 

LCBO (the Liquor Control Board of Ontario) is a government-owned corporation responsible for the sale, regulation, and distribution of alcoholic beverages, generating billions in revenue each year. The LCBO operates 700 retail stores in the province of Ontario, as well as an online platform, offering a wide range of alcoholic products while promoting responsible drinking.

The Problem 

The LCBO is facing a significant problem of increasing theft of select products, which has resulted in a loss of approximately $77 million in 2018. The repeated occurrence of theft of these select products poses a threat to the financial stability and reputation of the LCBO. Furthermore, the increasing frequency of theft incidents raises concerns for the safety of store employees. Therefore, there is an urgent need to identify the root cause(s) of this problem and develop effective solutions to mitigate the impact of theft on the LCBO's revenue, reputation, and employee/customer safety.

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The Challenge

How might we reduce theft and ensure safety at LCBO stores?

DISCOVERY

Problem Breakdown and How we can Understand them Better //

Security Vulnerabilities

  • Evaluate existing security measures within LCBO stores to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

  • Assess the effectiveness of current surveillance systems and loss prevention strategies.

Customer and Employee Safety

  • Examine the impact of theft on the safety of store employees and customers.

  • Identify potential risks and incidents related to confrontations or altercations resulting from theft.

Product Identification

  • Understand and analyze the specific products from three categories that are consistently targeted for theft.

  • Investigate patterns, locations, and times associated with these theft incidents.

What does success look like?

Collaborating with key stakeholders, the success metrics for the proposed in-store ordering system at LCBO would include:

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Reduction in Theft:

  • Achieve a significant decrease in theft incidents for the identified products.

  • Measure the percentage reduction in product loss and associated financial losses.

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Customer Satisfaction:

  • Conduct surveys and gather feedback to gauge customer satisfaction with the new ordering system.

  • Assess whether customers feel more secure when shopping due to the new solution.

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Operational Efficiency:

  • Measure the time it takes employees to fulfill orders.

  • Track the speed and accuracy of the order fulfillment process using the new system.

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Employee & Customer Safety:

  • Monitor and record incidents related to theft, ensuring a safer environment for both employees and customers.

  • Collect insights from employees about their perceived safety levels.

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Financial Impact:

  • Measure impact on revenue by comparing financial reports post & pre implementation.

  • Analyze the return on investment for the in-store ordering system, considering both the initial setup costs and ongoing expenses.

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Reputation Management:

  • Monitor media coverage, focusing on any mentions of theft or security concerns.
    Establish a positive public perception through effective communication of the implemented solution's success.

CURRENT MEASURES

Security Guards:

Pros:

  1. Visible Deterrence: Deters theft through the presence of security personnel.

  2. Immediate Response: Quick intervention in potential theft situations.

Cons:

  1. Limited Coverage: Unable to monitor entire store.

  2. Dependency on Human Observation: Effectiveness depends on the attentiveness of security personnel.

  3. Focus is on response instead of prevention

Bottle Locks:

Pros:

  1. Physical Barrier: Adds an extra layer of protection against theft.

  2. Controlled Access: Staff control locks, ensuring access only for purchasers.

  3. Customizable: Allows customization based on product value and theft frequency.

Cons:

  1. Ineffective Against Determined Thieves: Some may find ways to unlock bottles. 

Glass Cases:

Pros:

  1. High Visibility: Allows customers to view items without direct physical access.

  2. Added Deterrence: Visual deterrent signaling product security.

  3. Protects against grab-and-go theft

Cons:

  1. Limited Physical Barrier: May not deter determined thieves willing to break the glass.

Conversations with Stakeholders:

Following discussions with stakeholders, a decision was made to develop
a kiosk resembling an in-store ordering system.

While I had limited influence on the overall solution concept, my commitment as a designer drove me to ideate a seamless flow for our customers.

RESEARCH

​During this project, it was crucial to prioritize the needs of end users — LCBO's customers. Simultaneously, as a designer, it was equally vital to comprehend and address the specific requirements and objectives of the company. Striking a balance between user-centric design and aligning with the business goals ensured a successful outcome.
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Understanding the End User

While developing the in-store requesting app, I recognized that it was going to impose a burden on our customers. However, I made it a priority to keep this in mind throughout the design process, aiming to minimize any inconvenience or challenges they might face.

During the project, it was surprising to discover that a significant portion of LCBO's customer base consisted of older individuals who may not be as comfortable with technology. This insight played a crucial role in designing the in-store requesting app. To cater to their needs, I focused on keeping the user interface intuitive and the user flow as straightforward as possible. By prioritizing ease of use, I aimed to make the app accessible and inclusive for all users, regardless of their level of tech-savviness.
 

GOALS

Company Goals: 

  • Reduce theft: Develop a system that effectively addresses and minimizes incidents of theft within the store environment.

  • Customer satisfaction: Ensure that the solution caters to customers' needs and preferences while maintaining a positive shopping experience.

Customer Goals:

  • Quick and easy product requesting process: Create a seamless and efficient system that allows users to request products in-store with minimal effort and time.

  • Simplicity and minimal user flow: Design a user-friendly interface and intuitive user flow that simplifies the requesting process, minimizing any complexity or confusion. This ensures a smooth and seamless shopping experience for the users.

EXPLORING IDEAS

With the Project Manager, we organized a brainstorming session to foster creative solutions. This collaborative session resulted in a variety of diverse ideas for the flow of our kiosk. To streamline our options, we voting system, allowing us to pinpoint the most promising concepts for further exploration.

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DEFINE

I translated our most promising ideas into tangible concepts by creating Storyboards and User Journey maps. This allowed us to define users and map out processes for a comprehensive understanding.

Personas

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Storyboard (Overall Flow)

FIRST ITERATION

In the initial phase, the primary goal was to demonstrate to stakeholders the capability of our team — a team of only interns. Given the time constraints, we had a brief window to produce the first iteration. Although acknowledging the time limitations, we managed to create a flow that, while not perfect, initially resonated with our team. 

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In Version 1.1 of my first iteration, I adhered closely to stakeholders' preferences, creating distinct screens and kiosks for each store section, such as cognac, vodka, and scotch. This aligns precisely with their initial vision.

 

In Version 1.2, I introduced a combined screen where customers could access all three categories. This approach was intended to showcase an alternative perspective and prove the efficiency of a unified screen for customers interested in making in-store orders from multiple categories. It was a strategic move to present both options, allowing for a more informed comparison and demonstrating the advantages of the unified approach.

Feedback

Streamlined Interaction:

  • Feedback indicated that the initial kiosk design had too many screens, compromising the quick and efficient nature expected from kiosk interactions.

  • Emphasized the need for simplicity, with users completing tasks in just a few clicks for a seamless experience.

Divergence from E-commerce Site:

  • ​Acknowledged the similarity to LCBO's e-commerce site in the initial iteration.

  • Recognized the importance of adjusting the e-commerce flow to better align with the quick and intuitive nature expected from a kiosk.

UI Familiarity:

  • Highlighted the positive reception to maintaining a similar UI to the e-commerce site.

  • Noted that this approach can leverage existing user familiarity, potentially enhancing the user experience.

Unified Product Cards:

  • Positive feedback on consolidating various sizes of the same product under a single product card.

  • Contrast with the e-commerce site, where each size typically has its own product card, demonstrating an improvement in user experience and information accessibility.

Critical Learning:

While drawing inspiration and replicating elements from the e-commerce website proved beneficial initially, moving forward, it's important to think outside the box for more innovative solutions.

NEW AND IMPROVED USER FLOW

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AFTER MANY ITERATIONS...

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Clear text to show what the kiosk is for

Rotating product images to show what products are available on the kiosk

(did not end up going with this screen saver due to developer capabilities and time constraints) 

Clear instructions on how to begin 'request' process 

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Buttons to toggle between categories

Can access every size of a particular product in the same product card

(compared to the e-commerce site where different sizes of the same product have their own product card)

Modal to show product details 

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'Request Summary' on same screen to reduce friction

Customer enters name in a modal to identify their request

This iteration garnered positive feedback from stakeholders, with minimal comments. The feedback primarily focused on specific phrases and words rather than the overall flow.

FINAL DESIGN

The most notable change in the final design involved transitioning from a portrait to a landscape screen. At beginning of the project, there was uncertainty surrounded the hardware for the kiosk. Ultimately, the chosen hardware and setup dictated the adoption of a landscape screen configuration.

KEY SCREENS

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Staff members configure kiosk with products set for their store location

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Clear text to show what the kiosk is for

Clear instructions on how to begin 'request' process 

Buttons to toggle categories

Can access every size of a particular product in the same product card

Modal to show product details 

Store staff can also configure which categories to display on each kiosk

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'Request Summary' includes key product details including an image

Customers enter nickname for identification purposes

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Instructions on where products will be available for purchase

DEMO HIGHLIGHTS ✨

Concluding the project, we conducted a comprehensive demo for the CEO of LCBO, two other C-level executives, and stakeholders.

The final Kiosk Demo received great enthusiasm and further validation from the CEO and different departments. At the end of April 2023, the kiosk was displayed in 2 pilot stores.

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Pictured: The Co-op Team —

Bhavraj Atwal (PM), Dhruvi Kapadia (Designer), Mahfuzur Rahman (Dev), Nicholas Lin (Dev)

STORE STAFF APP

In addition to the primary customer-facing kiosk, the in-store ordering system comprised a separate application. This application was designed to enable store staff to receive and fulfill customer orders. 
 

While I initially started creating screens for this application, the development team in charge of this application took over the process. As a designer, I still take pride in my original screens, as they served as inspiration for the final app. Although they still require further refinement, here's a quick walkthrough showcasing the concept.

KEY LEARNINGS

The Power of Confidence 💪

Confidence is a crucial trait for designers, and during my internship, I recognized the need to strengthen this aspect of my professional demeanor. As the sole designer on my team, I often found myself in meetings with high-level stakeholders, and despite being confident in my designs, I occasionally struggled with self-assurance. While I remained open to feedback and criticism, I realized the importance of confidently defending my ideas when necessary. My demeanor, at times, may have conveyed a lack of confidence in my designs, which did not accurately reflect my capabilities as a designer. Moving forward, I aim to be a more confident designer, capable of articulating and defending my ideas with assurance.

Breaking Free from Attachment 🌱

It is common for designers to become deeply attached to their initial designs, occasionally leading to a resistance towards feedback that might initially seem unappealing or unnecessary. This was true in my case, where I felt confident in my design and found it challenging to fully embrace certain feedback. However, upon reflection and observing the evolution of my final design, I've come to realize the essential and valid nature of the feedback received throughout the process. This experience taught me the importance of not becoming overly attached to any specific design iteration and maintaining an objective mindset to facilitate continuous improvement.

Navigating UX and Technical Collaboration 🚀

Navigating as the sole UX designer within a team dominated by developers and individuals with technical backgrounds posed a challenge in articulating my ideas effectively. Interacting with colleagues with diverse technical expertise emphasized the necessity for clear and concise communication to bridge the gap between design concepts and technical execution. I adapted my language and presentation style to ensure that my design decisions aligned seamlessly with the project's technical aspects. Simultaneously, I recognized the value of understanding the technical side of things as well. I delved into learning high-level technical concepts, facilitating better understanding of developers' perspectives. 

The four months I spent at LCBO have been incredibly enriching. I was able to learn so much from a team of exceptional individuals and it has truly been a privilege. Despite facing various challenges during this period, it is within these challenges that I was able to grow as a product designer. Through this experience at LCBO, I've solidified my passion for product design, and I'm looking forward to continuing my journey of creating and solving problems through design.

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