Do you know who’s behind your delivery? Can you imagine what process happens after clicking the confirmation button? And how many services start working after that? Let me share quick desk research, which probably give you some visibility and next time, if something, goes wrong, you will know where is an issue.
As you can imagine, delivering process includes many steps. And warehouse management is a part of a big management order system (I’ll call it OMS). It contains several tools for customer service, accounting, Point of Sales (POS), warehouse management, inventory control, picking tools, etc. The process includes many participants, starting from customers, managers, pickers, finishing delivery workers. The highest chance to catch some issues is when an order moves from one part of the system to the another. In this story, I’ll focus on the picking process and users who do this job - pickers. This part requires interaction with people, and the human factor might add extra issues.
After reading several articles about the picking process I can highlight several problems, that frequently happened in fulfillments storages:
Generally speaking, the issues connected not only with software but also with the physical environment.
Let’s check how other market players solve these problems. So I reviewed competitors to understand the picking process and typical workflow, solutions they are providing. It’s not a very deep analysis, but it helps you understand the industry overlook. Follow the link to see the full version:
So, long story short:
To release you from looking at the competitors screenshot, just check the typical flow for the pickers app. It’s pretty straightforward, as such work requires minimum mistakes.
Before we jump to shaping the design solution, let’s, firstly, check the context and user need based on benchmarking that we've done.
I divided the whole process into the logical stages, that every order is passing over on the way to your home.
The process interacts with many users, so I proceeded to Journey Mapping to understand what dependencies between the system, app, and users. The map includes all users and but focuses only pickers needs, obstacles and tasks.
Below the link for full version of Map. Yeah, the map is complex and big.
To sum up, the problems we have on each step:
I will not consider the rest of the stages, because it’s rarely connected with the picking process, but I believe, it’s enough for shaping the design solution direction.
So, taking into account the problems, let’s figure out the possible scenarios and features for the app.
The next step was creating a flow for application and finding all dependencies with possible use cases. While I was reviewing the picking process I realised some missed features which can help make the picker's job more smooth.
Here you can find the full flow with comments and notes.
Of course when you start thinking about wireframes for a new product, one of the things pops up is device orientation. For sure, there are many things that have impact on decisions, for instance, some pickers wear a device on hand. Landscape layout is better for arranging info, but the app is used during walking and portrait layout is better for this. I even walked with a tablet to check which orientation is better. With the portrait layout the device helds more stable. Also, it shouldn't be a big tablet, for more convenient using it must be approximately 7 inches. So probably it would be an android device.
The second point was a guideline, should it follow android guidelines? Then I thought over the condition of using the tablet. The condition is different from typical users. Pickers use the app in storage where lots of items, could be not enough light. Usually, they use device with one hand, in the meantime, they pick items with the another hand… So the recommended element sizes wouldn't work for us, but let’s follow just the android patterns of navigation, as devices could be low-performance.
Then I started designing information levels for the app. On the top of the screen (more difficult-to-reach area) will include general info that doesn’t require any actions. The next is info related to content — orders status and etc. The next is content — orders + elements that require interaction. And on the bottom of the screen, in the most easy-to-reach area, is place for primary CTAs.
For the concept, I chose a dark turquoise color as a primary what creates a good contrast, big UI elements that stand out and increased font for better visibility. The yellow color I used as the accent color and only for status and other small UI elements. You can check the interactive prototype here:
During the visual phase, I continuously tested the prototype on the device and check interaction, so the final layout had changed because of usability concerns. There are still many open questions, so, this design solution should be customised for specific company needs and picking environments. Some key solutions also described below in the images
Through the desk study, I have touched the surface of the entire warehouse ecosystem, it was certainly exciting for me to explore the new field. Of course, for a more holistic and contextual approach, you still need to do a deep user analysis to recognize precise user needs and business logic.
Thanks for reading, if you have any feedback or questions, drop a comment or write me to email@example.com or Twitter
I hope you enjoy the study as well!