Darkstore: Urbanizing Same-Day Delivery
Darkstore is an operations Platform and Warehouse App. It’s main focus is to help brands expand into new markets by helping them with storage fulfillment, and 1-hour, same day, and standard delivery in new cities.
Darkstore has made connections with fulfillment and delivery services in these cities so the brands can sit back and worry about other things.
How can we Rekindle the Design Experience and promote brand growth?
We partnered with the Darkstore fulfillment centers to create a more personalized experience for their members. The project included a fresh rebrand, and update of the responsive website, and new mobile app.
Role and High level goals
Lead UX Designer on a team with, one remote designer, two developers, two operations team members, and a company dog.
High level goals
User experience and UI overhaul, while staying within time, capacity, and customer constraints.
Actions: Understanding the systems involved
Actions: Diving deeper into the individual systems
I wanted to dive right into the logistic experience, below are areas that had to be looked at from a critical eye.
Understand the Freights end to end life-cycle, with both inbound and outbound journeys
Clarify the Product timelines, from ordering, to fulfillment, through delivery.
Uncover Pain points and themes that run through all five systems to strategize better communication and connections.
Actions: Competitive Analysis
- Well established company in place
- Fulfillment centers organized by Zone.
- Gives shippers direct connection to Freights
- Clear Cost efficiencies
- Real-time GPS tracking
- Zipcode inclusive
- multi-carrier shipping
- Integrates with e-commerce platforms
Actions: Observing the User
I spent some time in one of the warehouses observing how the Warehouse app was currently used. This time was spent learning design opportunities to upgrade, simplify, or improve the general experience.
Actions: Synthesizing the data system from a bird’s eye view
Basic flows were created to map out the current Darkstore experience with a goal to communicate current motivations, goals, and behaviors.
Actions: Reframing the Problem by recalibrated the goals
Before I could jump into designing, it was important to define success and understand experience at scale. it was a people management problem in the warehouse. Bad communication practices and Inventory issues caused a snowball effect.
“...How might we build a better inventory system for future expansion within the limitation and budget of a startup?”
Items were sometimes partially fulfilled. When this happened operations managers have to spend valuable time finding out why.
App users were often frustrated using the built in scanner, resorting to using the physical scanner.
Both Operations and Fulfillment partners need to talk to each other in real time if there are going to any late or unfulfilled orders.
Some of the buttons were causing confusion, or selected incorrectly.
The Beginning of the Design
At the outset of the project we had a clear mission and goals for the experience. I had no logistic experience so, I partnered with our warehouse team to explore how products were checked in, fulfilled, and delivered.
Building the design system: Style and colors
Introducing the Darkstore platform (Operations team)
Resolving Conflicts faster
The main goal was to ensure that all members of operations team can perform tasks respectfully. A simple note can create a context for an error correction and notify all parties involved.
Fixing inventory accuracy
The key to maintaining accurate inventory is having a method of cycle counting.
Breaking-up this complexity
Creating checks and balances in the system
Introducing the Mobile app (fulfillment side)
Below is our inventory management concept. It save time by connecting the platform to the Apps inventory, and streamlining key tasks like Inventory discrepancies and order fulfillment.
Getting closer to understanding:
The main goals were:
Create easier location based picking.
Do time efficient measure on behalf of the order volume.
Shave off time in the fulfillment process.
Capitalize on better communication.
Validation of concept
Orders Pages: Tracking and Receiving orders faster
At its core, order control works by tracking the two main functions of a warehouse: receiving (incoming) and shipping (outgoing). I wanted to highlight some of these metric on the orders page
We upgraded the order systems to clarify all part of the order’s journey.
Creating Context to helps align the users goals
Architecture needs to support your User Experience. When planning, we narrowed in on target functions to clearly define our user’s pathways.
Taking stock of the information
Bucketing information into useful categories can direct the user faster towards their goal.
Managing inventory effectively
Inventory is the bread and butter of a business. Darkstore found a way to access it to operate properly
Inventory Affects Business
Not keeping proper tabs on your stock can be costly.
Fixing inventory accuracy
The key to maintaining accurate inventory is having an established method of cycle counting.We say this as a way to affect a small business's ability to forecast better, and ultimate scale faster.
Helping Define achievement
Cycle counting, is a simple way to easily generate metrics that tell you how you’re performing.
Through this case study, the sheer amount of work put into accurately creating a complete logistic system was a great challenge. I had to keep in mind that all of this is a process and it will take time, as well as some trial and error, before finding systems that work. With hard work, perseverance, and the right inventory management tools, the day-to-day operations will fall into place.
I left the project before we had time to test design solutions. There was a whole ADA design testing that did not take place. The next iteration would have taken into account better color contrast and navigation with both icon and words present. Please feel free to ask, to see a more in depth version of this project with more screens.
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