Sam’s Club puts member experience above all else, so the retail giant set out to design digital tools that create a seamless end-to-end experience for members, whether they shop in-club or online, empowering a critical resource for performance.
Expanding the definition of a customer
When you hear the word ‘customer,’ you normally imagine a person standing in front of a cash register, credit card in hand. The upheaval of the retail space in recent years has changed that definition. It’s entirely possible that, as you were reading this, you remembered you needed to buy batteries, did exactly that on your phone, and will have them sitting on your doorstep before the day is over. The machinations that need to occur in the background in order for that to happen are complex and critical.
Sam’s Club, one of the largest retailers in the US, is responding to this changing landscape holistically, striving to empower its associates - the company’s term for employees - with productivity tools that will, in turn, deliver the best membership experience for customers.
Customer platform strategy for three core areas
Design Language System
Associate Mobile App Strategy
Hardware Ecosystem Strategy
Synthesize through associate eyes
argo looked at the challenge through the lens of service design, choreographing the interactions of Sam’s Club associates toward a deeper understanding of how the tools they use shape the experiences of club members. Conducting intensive qualitative research with associates onsite in their workspaces, the argo team was able to better understand everyday workflows to extract insights for an app strategy that mapped to user needs.
In addition to qualitative research, argo conducted an atomic-level audit to assess the current landscape of over 70 apps used by Sam’s Club associates. We were able to extract patterns, decipher workflows, and construct a mental model for how the new app ecosystem could come together.
Defining a Design Language System (DLS)
With an app strategy defined, a system was needed that would provide the solid structure and scalable platform to build world-class tools for Sam’s Club associates. The resulting DLS, named ‘Blue Steel’, was constructed using 5 key inputs: app audit, trendscape, brand guidelines, design principles, and user research.
Blue Steel provides a toolkit that:
1 Enables meaningful information to be communicated effectively to associates
2 Creates a consistent experience and unified look across iOS and Android
3 Provides assets for design and engineering to make more efficient decisions
Carrying the experience through the front door
With key strategies in place for building software, we looked at how to extend the experience and bring it to life in the Clubs. With a focus on making it easy for members to get help or assistance from associates when in the Club, we developed a journey map of key scenarios and touchpoints between members and associates.
Guiding principles for designing hardware experiences
Visible & Transparent
Fast & Responsive
Member assistance prototype
With these principles front-of-mind, we developed a system that focused on providing Member assistance in the Club — making it easy for members to get help and associates to respond accordingly. The result is an intuitive, actionable app experience that will ultimately find its way into every Sam’s Club workplace.