Case study: Developing tailored analytics for food retail

Frances Brown

In 2020, Store Performance founders Tim Butler and Andy Hogg secured Innovate UK funding to develop products that use data and analytics to support the growth and success of the food retail industry. Their focus was on the owners of small coffee shop chains and their goal was to provide tailored data and analytics functionality that would give these users a detailed understanding of the day-to-day health and profitability of each outlet. 

The role of design research

To support Store Performance in achieving their goal, the Nightingale team spoke to owners of coffee shop chains and experts in the coffee shop industry. The aim of this exploratory qualitative research was to understand the aspirations, problems and pain points of coffee shop owners so that the final product would fit both their day-to-day needs and their long-term plans.

This research revealed that in order for a coffee shop chain to be successful, the owner/operator needs good visibility of each location, in terms of staff, customer experience, profitability and potential. However, as chains expand, maintaining this visibility across sites becomes very difficult. Data is available, from EPOS, time attendance software and accounting software, but often it is not in the format the owner/operator needs to make informed decisions- they are required to download data and transform it in some way to get specific, detailed information. Doing this requires skill and time, which the owner may not have. The most important data users identified was around profitability and the need to pinpoint factors - such as a change in the cost of an ingredient - that could negatively affect it.

How research informed the design of a great product

The valuable insight that the research provided allowed the Store Performance team to understand what they would need to deliver in order to fit the needs and requirements of their future customers. In particular, they learned that it would be important to provide data and analytics that owners can read and understand quickly in order to make confident, evidence-based decisions. The research allowed the team to set out the design of a product focused on delivering what customers need, in the way that they need it. 

The central value proposition of the product – ‘Know your business’ – is centred around the key need that coffee shop owners identified - to maintain a clear, up-to-date understanding of management data that indicates the health and success of the business, particularly data related to profit, waste and menu. The product allows coffee shop owners to track variables such as changing stock prices, cost and popularity of menu items and reductions in waste to understand the impact of these variables on the ongoing profitability of their businesses and to make improvements based on this understanding.

Nightingale’s research pinpointed exactly what our customers need, allowing us to begin developing a product that fits our market and has already attracted attention.

Two potential customers saw such value in this product concept that they volunteered to be part of the development process, testing and providing feedback on iterations of the design. This high level of early interest from customers indicates a very strong market potential - before the product is completed, future users see value in it and want access to it. Store Performance is now working with these customers to develop a product that will provide coffee shop owners and other food retailers with vital, relevant intelligence that allows them to monitor and grow their businesses successfully. 

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