Deep Rooted Tree
100 Percent
Graj and Gustavsen


Developed a service platform for Sainsbury's to engage customers to plan, shop, cook, and connect with the local community.

Project Overview

Project type: School Project—Royal College of Art
Project Partner: Sainsbury's
Discipline: Service Design, UX/UI design, Graphic Design
Date: 6 weeks, April 2015 – May 2015
Role: User Research, Customer Journey Design, Workshop Facilitation, Sitemap, Wifreframe, UX/UI Design
Mentor: Gus Desbarats
Team: Kaneeka Agarwal, Klaudia Do, Kristi Hodak

For most mothers, even a 30-minute meal seems like everyday challenge. Deciding what to buy or what to cook for the next week is every weeks hurdle. I developed a service platform that will enhance Sainsbury's customer experience by helping customers plan their shop, get inspired, and connect with the local community. The project was presented to the head of design at Sainsburys' and the client was pleased with the outcome.

I defined high level missions:
  • Provide seamless experience between online and offline channels.
  • Engage customers and build purposeful relationship.


Sainsbury’s is the second largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom. Sainsbury's is facing new due to changes in shopping patterns, new technology, and an increase in the elderly population. This 6 weeks project explores Sainsbury's 2020 retail vision with a focus on replacing the current shopping routine by providing a seamless combination of new online and in-store experience.
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Brand Promise

By analyzing the brand, I learned that Sainsbury's brand has integrity, trust and loyalty by helping people eat better, reducing waste, and building communities. Sainsbury's committed to help customers to live well for less. However, in reality, consumers are tired of making decisions for themselves and their families. They want a healthy lifestyle in which they learn more about how their food is sourced, or simply want to connect with their local community.
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Early Stage Research

I facilitated user research with internal stakeholders, such as front-line staffs, director of Brixton branch and head of design. I learned about customer missions, products, stores, display strategies, psychology in store, and customer segmentation. I will omit details to comply with the non-disclosure agreement. I also interviewed a few customers at the store who were mostly mothers. From the research I learned that for most mothers, even a 30-minute meal seems like everyday challenge. They have to carry heavy grocery bags and make sure everyone in the family eats healthy and is happy with the home made meals, which can make planning a meal extra complicated. We rarely observed a meal in which at least one family member didn't complain about the food they were served. Varying schedule among the family members double the chores: cooking and washing dishes. In addition, food plans are often ruined by spoiled food, which leads to wasted food resources. Deciding what to buy or what to cook for the next week is every weeks hurdle.

"I am so overwhelmed with planning, shopping, and cooking because I am the only peson in my family making all the decisions around food for my husband and three children."
- Busy mom with 3 kids (43)

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Co-creation Workshop

To gain a better understanding of Sainsbury's strategy and discover insights, I designed workshops. The workshops were conducted with 2 different age groups: 8 young participants and 8 old participants. For our end product we ultimately targeted mothers. However, we invited those groups that aren't familiar with grocery shopping. If our end product could benefit those customers to shop without any instructions or special adaptations, we believed mothers, who shop everyday can easily adapt to the service.

I used different research methodologies to provoke customers to reveal pain points and ideas. (e.g., I created index cards with illustrations of superheroes, which represents the different customer segments and asked interviewees to describe how they would shop.) I then contributed to gathering, categorizing, analyzing qualitative data, and brainstorming insights from the workshops.
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Emotional Journey

Visualized maps that illustrate a user’s emotional experience through the journey of interacting with Sainsbury's and other retails. I hypothesised each age group would have different pain points. (e.g., the young group would have poor experience while waiting in a que and the old group would have a poor experience on the way back home with heavy bags or not knowing how to use self-checkout machines.) Then I identified the hot-spots, which is an area of customer irritation that has a high potential for improvements.
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User Profile

Based on qualitative data from workshops with people of different backgrounds, my team and I created a user profile that depicts the user's personal characteristics, pain points, behavioral and emotional journey.
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From the research, I learned that fresh products purchases are sensory - people like to smell, touch and choose what they are going to eat. Whereas commodities are often bought online because people don’t really need to see this kind of products. Consumers want to know where their food is being sourced from and be a part of their community. They are tired of making decisions for either themselves or their families about what they should buy, eat, cook, which brand to choose, and which offer would actually save them money and avoid waste. However, people want to have a healthy lifestyle and make smarter decisions, but they have no time to do so.

How might we help Sainsbury’s to do all the heavy liftings for mums so that they can plan, shop, and cook with ease and adopt healthier lifestyle and make smarter shopping decisions?

Our research provided us a very clear direction, which led us to develop Sainsbuddy. Sainsbuddy is a service platform that will change the customer experience by helping customers plan their shop, get inspired, and connect with the local community before they go to the store. I named the service 'Sainsbuddy' because Sainsbuddy is a service that assist customers, staffs, and the local community. In addition, 'Sainsbuddy's' carries a memorable and friendly presence, which align with the Sainsburys' brand spirit.
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Plan The Shop

Sainsbuddy will help customers plan their shop and menu for cooking. Many customers buy the same products over and over again for their weekly shop. The app will help customers purchase items they have bought previously.
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Preventing Wasted Food

Households in the United Kingdom churns out 7.3m tonnes food waste. Sainsbuddy's will encourage users to minimize wasted food resources and cook, rather than purchase ready-made food.It will feature a history section and notification section where the user will be notified about not only the expiration date, but will also has a list of recipes that the user can make using the ingredients that are about to expire.
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Click & Collect

Sainsbuddy does heavy-liftings for the users. The user can select and pay desired items on Sainsbuddy and in-store staff will collect items in the bag. In addition, Sainsbuddy encourage family members to share shopping tasks. After the user finishes online shopping, the users family is enabled to pick up the items at the store.
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Share Recipe

Eight in ten British women admitted cooking the same dishes over and over again. Sainsbuddy encourage users to cook variety of dishes by recipe sharing feature. The user can upload their own recipes and share them with other users. As the user gets certain likes, Sainsbury's will invite users to have a recipe demo at a local store. The user will receive a certain amount of a nectar loyalty incentive, which is a loyalty card scheme in the United Kingdom.
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In-store Strategy

The online experience will seamlessly tranlsted into in-store experience. We envision Sainsbuddy's to be the space that engages the customers by offering sensory experience, allowing them to access food ingredients. Sainsbuddy will feature farmer's market and in-store restaurants. Customers will be able to purchase the ingredients from the food in the restaurants and shop with the installed tablet device while waiting or eating.

Our focus has been on how to make the current shopping experience more convenient, provide a seamless experience between different channels, and make customers stay exclusively with Sainsbury’s. Sainsbuddy will bring Sainsbury’s to your living room. 

Key Takeaways

Through this project I have gained user research experience. I executed not only desktop research but also field research by brainstorming, stakeholder analyzing, user journey mapping, shadowing and interviewing. During the co-creation workshop I tried research methodologies such as provocations and emotional journey. I feel that I discovered core problems and user needs. I defined feasible, profitable, and usable service by 2020. In addition, I believe branding and video demonstration of the interface is nicely done.

I feel that I could have done rapid prototyping/testing and executing implementation strategy if project was managed better. In addition, interface could be more visually polished.

"You took the brief and exactly understood the core problems. I love the ideas of Sainsbuddy. Congratulations to the innovation."
- Head of design at Sainsbury's

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