A social project to enhance buying experience in Colombian High-Frequency Stores
Enhance the buying experience in Colombian High-Frequency Stores (HFS) between the owner, the buyer, the distributor, and the brands; aiming for a sustainable boost for the HFS Sector.
A POP Display to share recipes among neighbors, to keep and attract new customers, and let the vendor increase sales rotation.
This social innovation project was a partnership between the academic and private sectors, with 15 students from 3 universities (TUDelft, EAFIT, Universidad de Los Andes) and 5 professionals from Solutions Group, a design and manufacturing company for the Point of purchase advertising (POPA). The team was interdisciplinary, including the following: product designers, graphic designers, industrial designers, administrators, among others.
High-frequency Stores in Colombia are micro-small businesses, usually owned by families, and in most of the cases, are informal businesses. Every neighborhood has several high-frequency stores, and the customers frequent them several times per day. Unlike hypermarkets, supermarkets, or even convenience stores, high-frequency stores offer products in smaller presentations. This occurs mainly because most of the people who are part of the bottom of the economic pyramid in Colombia earn a reduced monthly minimum wage (270US), and prefer to go to a high-frequency store where they can buy a spoonful of oil, rather than go to a hypermarket where they must buy the whole bottle at higher price. In addition, high-frequency stores play an important cultural and social role because the relationship between the owner and the buyer is much closer and inclusive than in a supermarket. Often times, people who frequent these places become friends with the vendor, and sometimes, this is a place they can rely on to buy food in the midst of financial scarcity.
Two areas of Bogotá were selected to do an immersion which allowed the team to understand the dynamics of high-frequency stores at different times, from the moment high-frequency stores owners go to Corabastos (intermediary between farmers and HFS owners) at 2 AM, until the moment they sell to their clients. Some of the most important insights we discovered were: high-frequency stores are part of the cultural identity of Bogotá and represent a meeting place among neighbors, vendors, and distributors of consumer goods. Additionally, it’s a place where traditional culinary recipes are transferred. We also discovered that the level of loyalty and trust in high-frequency stores are very high; sometimes vendors are willing to let their clients take home products with a promise they will pay for them in the near future, all if this, without signing any documents and relying entirely on trust. Another insight we found was that the management tool or for the store is generally a notebook, where owners do the accounting processes and record the loans; they do not have inventories and they don’t know exactly how much money they are earning or losing.
After the immersion, the team ideated different solutions that were tested and validated through prototypes. Then, we thought about the income model and different options to finance the solution.
Many ideas were generated, but also 4 were prototyped:
From the farm to your HFS: A service to improve de distribution channel of fruits and vegetables, avoiding intermediaries, and providing fresh products to consumers in order to connect them with its origins. Key insight: High-frequency store owners have to pay an amount of money to Corabastos (intermediary) for each product they buy, this increases the prices for the end customer.
Tiendarte: Artistic inventions/murals inside high-frequency stores to strengthen the cultural identity of Bogotá’s neighborhoods and connect shops with the surrounding communities creating new shopping experiences and becoming touristic spots. Key insight: high-frequency stores are a meeting point for owners and neighbors, many stories about the city are told over there. It’s part of the cultural identity of Bogotá.
he vendor’s friend: An app to facilitate the store management and help the owner through accounting, financial movements, inventories and customer information tools. Key insight: most high-frequency stores owners use a notebook as their management tool, sometimes they forget to write down all information, and sometimes they may even lose the notebook (which translates to money loss).
The neighborhood recipe book: a stand to share recipes among neighbors, to keep and attract new customers to let the vendor increase sales rotation Key insight: every day a lot of people ask the vendor “¿what should I cook today? please give me some ideas”.
Solutions group, a Point of purchase advertising manufacturer company, that was part of the team, wanted to take advantage of the results of the project generating value for their clients, and decided to run a 3-week pilot test with the project that better matched its industry: “The neighborhood recipe book”. A POP (Point of purchase) display was designed and installed at the counter of a high-frequency store, and every day people could share and receive new recipe ideas, which also allowed the vendor to create and sell combos with the ingredients needed to prepare such recipes.
The result of this pilot was presented at the international conference Design and Emotion 2014 and the product was offered to the Coca-Cola Company as a new opportunity for the brand to interact with the customers through a PoP display.
To understand the challenge we conducted the following methodologies: Safari, ethnography, fly on the wall, day in life, interviews and service blueprint.
To conceptualize we used: user profiles, clustering and mind maps.
To generate ideas we used: analogies and metaphors, brainstorming and guided imagery.
To bring ideas to life we used: prototyping, we did a canvas business model and an implementation plan.