Why it’s important to “dogfood” your own product
Here at Localz, our mission is “delivering happiness.” We want to ensure the process for you to collect your groceries or knowing when your engineer arrives is as easy and as natural as possible, so that you — the consumer — are left with a positive feeling.
For us, it is important that we maintain this experience when we push major upgrades or introduce new features. And one way we ensure this is by “dogfooding”.
The term — short for eating your own dogfood — is the idea that organisations use the product they develop. If someone spots a bug or a usability issue during testing, they raise the issue so that it gets fixed.
In our case, we use our own product through our clients. For example, ordering groceries online and selecting their click and collect option, and then collecting our order from the nearest store to our office or home.
So why do we do this? I asked one of our product managers at Localz, Quinnie Chen; and she told me that dogfooding gives us some important insights on how our product is actually used.
“It is a great way to understand how our users use our products in real life. It helps us to gain insights from the end users point of view in an unmoderated [production] environment,” she told me.
“In addition, it brings the team closer to the users, and always reminds us of the problems we are solving for our customers: transparency and control.”
Quinnie pointed to a recent example where we wanted to test if the new features introduced in our Collections product made a difference to a client, who wanted to let customers pick up their goods within 30 minutes. We acted as secret shoppers and placed real orders through their website and mobile app — both as a new customer and as a returning customer. This was because one of the new features was to allow a returning customer to skip the ID capture step before they collected their order, because they would have shown it previously and it was recorded on their systems.
“We were delighted that our orders were ready to pick up in under 15 minutes; and with the returning customer experience with the skip ID capture feature, we were out of the shop within 10 seconds!” she said.
In addition, we have used dogfooding to gather information on what it is like on the other side — for example, the store attendant who is processing the order. We collect their experiences (especially when using our Attendant app), recording what they most and least liked about it. That data then feeds back into our product roadmap, where we use it to develop and prioritise new features.
Dogfooding is not a replacement for usability testing. But for organisations that have the consumer as their ultimate end user (like us), dogfooding is an important tool that ensures your team is on the same page as said consumer.