Cuesol (for Stop & Shop)

Imagine this grocery shopping experience: your cart reminds you what you need as you move through the aisles, you order from the deli without standing in line, you scan and bag your order as you shop and check out with the swipe of a card. Stop & Shop and Cuesol's Shopping Buddy is making this a reality, today.

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Shopping Buddy dynamically changes as it moves through the store. Shoppers can access features like deli orders, finding products, recipes and special offers.

Shopping Buddy is a location-aware cart-mounted grocery shopping companion with self-checkout, product finder, recipes and deli ordering capabilities. For more than five years, Filament Group has worked side-by-side with Cuesol, Inc. to develop an interface for their unique grocery-shopping tablet that is easy, lively and fun.

We eagerly embraced the design challenge of making sure that Shopping Buddy would be easy enough for anyone to use — people that had never used a computer interface before, moms and kids shopping together, as well as tech-savvy power shoppers wanting to take advantage of on-cart self-checkout — and in an environment where we're virtually guaranteed not to have their full attention. This put every assumption about interaction design to the test.

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The same screens power both the Shopping Buddy and free-standing deli kiosks.

Shopping Buddy's unique technologies — it's a web-based system on custom touch-screen hardware with a detachable barcode scanner, embedded Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and IR location sensors — gave us just the right combination of functionalities to support users in an already active store environment. We started with a simple, friendly interface with bright colors and very touchable looking buttons, and overlaid just enough animated transitions and movement to grab users' attention when action was needed or new information available.

Over the years, Buddy continued to introduce new features, from custom wizards to help users order from the deli or weigh and scan produce, to an integration with a web-based shopping list creation tool. We've worked alongside Stop & Shop's business owners and marketing team, and Cuesol's strategists and developers, to leverage these experiences and extend them into the store broader environment. For example, we helped take the Shopping Buddy deli ordering code and customize it to work for free-standing kiosk.

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Our Store Manager system uses a single code base, with custom stylesheets to optimize the experience for web and handheld.

With time, the back-end data system that supports Buddy grew into a rich and responsive real-time view of a store's shopping and inventory status. Stop & Shop and Cuesol decided to harness that richness for store managers as well as customers, by creating a web-based store management tool to help track inventory levels and respond to spikes in demand, quickly communicate product issues or recalls, and actively monitor store performance in real time. Ideally, this solution would need to work equally well for the store manager on the floor, and the regional marketing executive in his office.

Again, our experience with both the client, the target technologies, and front-end coding best practices allowed us to devise a uniquely elegant solution. Our design solution built on a foundation of semantically-sound standards-compliant code, and layered all presentation and interaction through a set of customized CSS stylesheets, one optimized for web delivery and the other for mobile devices. In this way, Stop & Shop was able to support two very different experiences with the same core code base.

Our experience with Buddy, Cuesol and Stop & Shop pushed the limits of design and interaction for us — from delivering a playful mobile system that's easy enough for a child (or a computer-phobic grown-up) to operate, to developing target performance monitoring and business process optimization tools that deploy seamlessly across a broad range of devices.