Pervasive retail applications should, with rare exception, assist the shopper in navigating the physical environment (the store). This navigation should consider all relevant contextual information available to it and adapt accordingly. In most cases, shoppers have tasks and goals they need to accomplish. The longer they take to do this, the more purposeful they become and the less time they spend exploring. Design pervasive applications to minimize distractions inherent to the environment and keep them moving to allow them to find essential products quickly. When we keep them moving towards their goal, we free their time to explore.
1 Keep all the shoppers moving
Like it or not, we’re in this together. Pervasive applications should use the collective (distributed) contextual information of discrete shoppers in relation to all shoppers in the store to optimize traffic patterns and reduce congestion.
Example: If an area of the store has become congested, the system re-routes the shopper to avoid the area. This helps the shopper collect items more quickly as well as ease congestion.
3 Direct shoppers to traverse full aisles to collect their items
Shoppers want their shopping paths to be as efficient as possible. Many factors can affect their ability to progress through the store, including aisle congestion or unfamiliarity with the location of items. Navigation features should take advantage of environmental information to limit the amount of backtracking for the shopper, thus reducing frustration and time spent shopping.
Example: The shopper has five items on a list. The system provides an optimal path that leads down entire aisles to keep forward momentum (as opposed to dipping in and out of aisles) until done.
4 Re-route them based on shopper override or system intervention
Shoppers should be able to update or edit their shopping list while in the store. The system should recognize a change to the list, then utilize it to recalculate the optimal path. This applies equally to events the system detects, like congestion in a particular area of the store, and a shopper that has deviated from the recommended path. The system should make every effort to seamlessly correct errors (human or system) to keep shoppers moving along a forward path, but always allow them to override and manually re-route on the fly.
Example: A shopper follows the path provided by the system until seeing a friend three aisles away. The shopper choose to go say hi. The system detects the variation of the path and re-routes the shopper to provide them the most optimal path based on their new location.
5 Show them their orientation
The virtual view of the shopper should show their real orientation. Most GPS-enabled navigation systems do this. The map should show directional cues to inform shoppers which way they are facing. Without these cues, they may be forced to re-orient themselves in their heads; essentially making an (up to) 180-degree cognitive rotation (turning the map upside down in their mind).
6 Anticipate the need for support
The system should prompt and initiate calls for assistance and provide contextual help based on patterns indicative of confused or lost customers.
Example: A shopper spends an extended period of time in a single aisle or navigates repeatedly between two aisles. The system detects this and assumes the shopper is having difficulty, so it asks if the shopper needs help finding something. If the shopper says “yes,”, the system presents an automated method for help. If the automated method fails, the shopper is presented options to have a human representative help.
14 references informed this principle
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 Informing the Design of Proxemic Interactions, Marquardt, N., Greenberg, S. (2011), Research Report 2011-1006-18, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N IN4, July.