UX, technology and grocery shopping: fast, efficient and convenient

As we are no longer tied to physical restrictions, there’s a plenty of online grocery stores to choose from. The key food retailers are trying to win our personal patronage using competitive offers, discounts, loyalty cards as well as convenient delivery options. While some shoppers may simply prioritise price and delivery cost, his or her experience using and interacting with each online grocery store also determines the convenience and efficiency. My personal experience with online grocery shopping tells me that some specific UX features are exceptionally good while other sites can be slightly frustrating to use.

Is Iceland leading the way of best UX practice?

From eCommerce News, one of the top supermarkets Iceland was named the best online supermarket in the UK in February this year. According to the customer survey by Which?, Iceland achieved an overall customer satisfaction of 77% and highest ratings for value for money and convenient delivery slots. The result shows that the retailer is now leading ahead of other large supermarkets like Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Iceland had invested just over 1 million pounds in re-launching its digital store in 2013. But the retailer’s home delivery service began in the UK almost 20 years ago, and its online store in 1999 when many shoppers didn’t even have PCs.

Its current eCommerce site’s outlook is very simple and easy to navigate. Given the scale of its products compared with other big retailers, it is perhaps reasonable to assume that Iceland’s online shop contain somewhat less content and product ranges, making it somewhat more convenient to use.  

Farewell to mundane supermarket shopping experiences?

It is not our purpose to go through every important user experience feature of online supermarket websites. Instead, here are some further key features and technologies that major retailers are embracing to turn monotonous and tedious food shopping into a more fun and simplified experience.


As highlighted by eConsultancy, superb and seamless mobile experience is becoming indispensable for consumers on the move. Excellent mobile experience saves time by letting users continue their grocery shopping at any location and any time. According to Ocado, ‘mobile apps account for one-third of all Ocado sales’ and the number keeps growing significantly. As far as seamless multichannel experience is concerned, it is important that every major supermarket allow users to switch back and forth in between desktop and app to continue shopping. With Tesco’s mobile app, for example, customers who started shopping using desktop can switch to his or her mobile without losing all the information and contents.

Barcode scanning technology

It seems almost every large retailer seems to embrace barcode scanning technology already. While it is not ubiquitous, barcodes have proven to be immensely useful and apposite for tech-savvy and time-pressed shoppers.

A couple of years ago, Ocado and Waitrose announced completely new barcode-led online shopping services. Ocado’s iPhone app allows users to scan barcodes on their favourite products which will be automatically added to their baskets for a more efficient online grocery experience (read more here).

Meanwhile, Waitrose is at the ‘latter stage of trailing’ its latest home scanner technology, Hiku. According to the Guardian, it essentially is a fridge magnet containing a scanner on it. It also has voice recognition technology that let you add any item to the list. With such a simple and fun device, one does not even need to go online to add a product.


iBeacons technology has long been expected to make a change in retailers. While the sales made through mobile apps are soaring, it doesn’t necessarily translate into the decline of physical stores. In fact, a growing number of supermarket across the country is trying to incorporate high-tech into bricks-and-mortar stores. As the competition intensifies among retailers, we will likely to see more of them teaming up with large food brands to entice the customers. For example, Tesco has started installing iBeacons in-stores which will target specific customers and passers-by with personalised notifications including offers and so on. Having partnered with Unilever,  customers who downloaded the special Magnum app will discover ‘exclusive coupons for discounted Pink and Black Magnums directly to their phone when they pass by iBeacons in 270 Tesco Express stores’ (via the Drum).          

Right, considering all such innovative technologies, here is the key question: can all those create new loyal customers?

What do you think?

Appnova is a digital agency specialising in web design, UX, e-commerce, branding, digital marketing and social media.

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