November 2019 – July 2020

AR Case Picking

A tool for store employees to quickly get inventory out of a backroom and take it to the sales floor. Previous tools involved a complicated process of scanning every case in a a section of backroom shelves, which employees rarely had time to complete every week and which had little perceived benefit.

Our new tool decreased the time it takes to move backroom inventory to the sales floor by 73%, was designed to build more trust in the system, and created a more enjoyable experience.

augmented reality
interaction design
prototyping

The Team

Ten people including a product, technical, business owner, and several engineers (frontend, backend, database). I was the lead designer on this project.

My Role

I worked on this product from the beginning as the UX Designer. All designs, drawings, prototypes and UI here are my own work. Due to COVID-19, product and business owners were allowed into the store to interact with store employees more frequently than designers, so they did most of the usability testing.

Discover

Project Kickoff

Moving inventory from backroom shelves to empty sales floor shelves shouldn't be a complicated process. Inventory needs to move quickly, efficiently, and accurately.

Our goals:

  • Understand the Backroom Holistically. How does inventory flow from truck to shelf? How do employees interact with inventory? How do they know whether something should go to the Sales Floor?
  • Discover why the current system was universally mistrusted by employees to accurately tell them whether an item should be taken to the sales floor (called a "pick").
  • Define & Develop a Solution.

The current Backroom Inventory process is long, tedious, and is widely mistrusted by employees.

Discovery & Ideation

To build our understanding we visited several stores, interviewing employees about their current backroom experience and working the processes with them. We also took a look at our rules engine which determines whether an item should be picked or not to determine if it was actually effective.

Our interviews and experiences informed a service blueprint of the current experience to give us a holistic view of what was happening in the backroom. This helped us to discover different perspectives of the backroom (i.e. storyboarding potential futures) and explore various technical solutions that might help us solve our problems.

Define

Problem Definition

We narrowed our focus to solving 2 main backroom problems:

From this scope, and due to other business decisions, we decided to try using AR on a handheld device (iOS, Android, Store Device) to simplify the current technical solution. Along with testing AR for picking, we would also explore and test new backroom configurations and inventory algorithms.

Develop
Contextual Note

Walmart associates started working from home due to COVID-19 in March 2020. We were instructed not to test solutions with store associates to allow them to focus on supporting their communities. However, I was able to test my hypothesis with family, friends, and other home office employees unfamiliar with the project, which helped strengthen our design. Later in the process (around June) we were able to test with some store employees to validate many of our hypothesis.

We knew that we needed to focus our efforts in two different ways: the AR phone application and the Backroom environment.

AR Phone Application Prototypes

We discovered and enforced these design rules as we designed, tested and iterated on our new backroom tool, setup and process. This video from Apple WWDC talking about how to design for AR was particularly helpful.

1

Keep AR Markers Simple

Overlaying information about every case clutters app space and makes it hard to interact with other cases.

2

Hide Extra Info

Use app space for viewing more information about an item, not world space.

3

No Batches or Queues

Pick needs are not added to a queue for an associate to "check off" or batch picked, but are shown in world space and completed one-by-one.

4

Case Status

There are 3 statuses a case can have: No Pick Needed, Pick Needed, or Picked. They may also have a selected state.

5

No Undo

A case pick cannot be undone by the associate. If they didn't mean to pick something, it should just be left on the shelf and the system will detect it again the next day.

6

Sales Floor Tool

Associates should be able to jump to the Sales Floor Tool to view additional item information quickly, as that feature in the previous CAP process is currently used 2 million+ times per week chain-wide.

7

View More Info

Item Information can only be viewed for "No Pick Needed" or "Picked".

8

Marker Size

"Pick Needed" and "Picked" AR Markers should be 30dp (Android), while "No Pick Needed" markers should be smaller at 24dp to create visual importance of Pick Needed and Picked items.

Backroom Environment Prototypes

Our 2 prototypes for the backroom environment really centered around the function and usefulness of a bin, and how easy it was to find.

Deliver & results

Backroom Environment Results

VizPick Application

The new app and process have had particularly good results:

Enjoyable

"This is significantly easier and a game changer for productivity. It's the greatest thing since sliced bread!"
- store employee

Faster

The new app and process have cut the time to get needed items to the sales floor by 73%!

Implemented

It's been implemented in stores.