Customer Research for FMCG innovation

See how Purple Shirt’s customer research helped guide the development of Zoom Trolley, Foodstuffs innovative supermarket shopping experience.

Client: Foodstuffs North Island | Industry: FMCG


A supermarket brand focused on customer-centric service delivery

Proudly New Zealand owned and operated, Foodstuffs is New Zealand’s biggest grocery distributor. The company is best known for its major retail brands - PAK’nSAVE, New World and Four Square. For more than 90 years, Foodstuffs has continually designed and developed its customer experience to meet changing needs.

This focus on customer-centred innovation led New World to develop their new Zoom Trolley. It has a built-in app, screen and barcode scanner, so customers can:

  • Upload a shopping list from their New World phone app
  • Scan barcodes and track spending as items are added to the trolley
  • Check out without unloading the trolley and repacking their shopping

The Opportunity

Create a positive customer experience, improve operational performance and embed a customer-centric product development lifecycle

Introducing a new approach to something as familiar as supermarket shopping requires careful planning, testing and development. There’s little customer tolerance for anything less than a frictionless experience with immediate and desirable benefits. To generate a return on investment beyond customer approval, the innovation must improve operational performance. 

Our Approach

Customer-centric design using operational staff pilots, plus customer testing, interviews and surveys

To ensure the project met the joint demands of customer expectations and improved business performance, we helpedFoodstuffs introduce a customer-centric approach to their product development.This was achieved by designing and executing a series of user experience research activities, then translating the results into clear and concise insights for the project team. The insights were used to make Zoom Trolley improvements between each round of research and development.

Round one: Staff interviews

To help assess the Zoom Trolley experience from a business operations perspective, we carried out user experience interviews and ‘shop alongs’ with staff from Foodstuffs and New World.

Round two: In-store customer experience testing

We conducted mock shops at two New World stores, where customers were asked to come prepared to complete their main weekly shop. We observed customers as they shopped and facilitated one-to-one interviews both before and after they’d completed their shop. The interviews allowed us to understand how they felt about the overall experience and why.

We turned the resulting customer insights into actionable recommendations for addressing usability issues in the following areas:

  • User interface
  • Security and privacy
  • Ergonomics
  • Operations

Round three: In-store customer interviews and surveys

Based on insights from the previous rounds, the project team made form factor improvements to the Zoom Trolley, enhanced the on-boarding process and enabled connection with the New World phone app for a more integrated customer experience.

We also helped define four clear stages for the Zoom Trolley experience.

  • Online Zoom registration via the New World app
  • Mobile phone to Zoom Trolley pairing
  • Actively using Zoom Trolley during a shop (adding and removing items)
  • Checkout and exit

To learn how customers felt during each of the four stages, we conducted one-to-one interviews before and after each shop at two New World stores. Follow-up surveys were sent the next day to customers who participated in ‘mock shops’ across both New World stores.

Outcomes delivered

Improved customer and business outcomes from user experience research

Customer outcomes

By the end of the third round, the following customer value drivers were becoming apparent.

  • Customers believe in Zoom Trolley’s efficiency and speed of shop, even though first time use requires some additional thought and effort
  • It’s a fresh approach to buying groceries that makes people feel in control of their shop
  • The quick and frictionless experience where customers have the option to pay and exit without staff intervention evokes a feeling of empowerment

Business outcomes

  • The project team is happy with the depth and clarity of insights we provided during all stages of research
  • The CEO and executive team endorsed Zoom Trolley’s continuation and support the planning activities for in-store pilots
  • Prioritised recommendations were provided for improvements to the digital and physical experience
  • Product validation was achieved with a wide range of customers and operational staff
  • A phased user experience model was developed to guide the overall customer experience

“I have been impressed by the depth of experience Purple Shirt have shown throughout this engagement providing significantly more value than customer survey capability. Their skill is in identifying points of friction through observation, even where the customer could not articulate it and we might have missed it. I have valued Steve’s counsel on how to develop a truly customer driven product and will not hesitate to engage Purple Shirt in the future.”

Ashley Colyer, Solutions Delivery Manager, Foodstuffs

What we did


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