Smart Shopping
District

An innovative and digital solution project at Acloud.

PROJECT KICK-OFF

This project involved two digital products: LivingFun, a portal site for over 300 stores; and mBoss, an app for store owners at the night market.

Project Partner: Acloud
This startup company created innovative services to relieve business problems by combining the trend of the “Internet of Things”, devices and digital services.

Primary Users: Night market vendors and residents.
Participation Officers are civil servants and their primary responsibilities are proposing discussions of cross-ministerial issues with wider stakeholders, and collaborating about solutions.

Project Overview: Feng Chai Night Market is the largest nighttime shopping district in Taiwan, and in 2015 accumulated more than 11 million visitors generating $109 billion New Taiwanese Dollars ($46 billion CAD) business revenue. The vendors and store owners at the night market are highly competitive and the shopping experience can be messy. Acloud offered a night market portal site, along with an app and online ordering service utilizing a mobile POS system to create an innovative night market shopping experience.

Timeline: Feb 2015 - July 2016

My role:User researcher, UX and service designer

Goals of my practice were to:

  • Intertwine service design and marketing strategies
  • Gain prototyping and service validation experience
  • Establish my design interest

PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION

“Visitors and residents waste time in line getting food; Store owners don’t have an efficient way to promote and attract customers”

Target Audiences

After conducting 30 one-on-one interviews with Feng Chai University students who are the main residents around the night market area, 30 randomized interviews with tourists, 10 in-depth interviews with store owners and 350 online surveys, I consolidated findings into personas to show the user journey and identified audience segmentations. Based on research, we decided to put more attention to residents around the night market, especially students at Feng Chia University and Oversease Chinese University, which are right next to the night market. Night market vendors and stores provided special discounts for school departments and clubs. Those organizations published membership cards with store lists every year to the students. However, those cards made it hard to track the discounts and were easy to lose. This provided the opportunity for a digital tool and we decided to cooperate with those student organizations to gain steady users as the first phase of a business plan.

There were two types of store owners in our target audience. First, there were the new vendors who were seeking ways to promote their brands and products, but were limited by their budgets or ability for doing marketing events. Second, there were the popular vendors who were aiming to expand their business by creating a better or more special dining experience. We identified the business opportunity of making a promotion and online ordering service app, mBoss, to address the needs of our target store owners.

PROJECT OUTCOMES

The video provides a sneak peek at the problem area and solutions.

Solutions Video

LivingFun

LivingFun was a portal site providing information and coupons for 300 participating retailers, and a self-ordering service to help night market residents skip the line and save money.

Online ordering service

  • Night Market online shopping mall
  • Customers can choose food delivery or self- pickup

Coupon service

  • Available promotion shows up on the store profile and checkout page
  • Directs user to the discount exchange page
  • Users can redeem the coupon during checkout when online shopping, or show to a clerk within 90 seconds during self-pickup.

mBoss

mBoss was a service for owners and managers of stands or stores in the Feng Chia Night Market. Through the mBoss app, store owners could manage their store profile, online reservations, self-ordering confirmations, digital promotions, instant promotions, discount redeeming, promotion analysis, online stores, and gogo point (mBoss token). mBoss offered the store owners an initial free trial for 3 months.


The main features of this app included POS capabilities, helped store owners promote their own products and was accessible 24/7. These owners and managers could use the app to customize promotions and that information would be livestreamed to 10 digital signages at the night market and to LivingFun users.


One unique feature of mBoss was that it used smart lighting. When dining customers used the app to order their meals or to summon a waiter, the light above their table would change colour. This was more efficient for restaurant staff and made dining a new experience for customers.


Instant promotion service

  • Allowed store owners to set up their own promotions
  • Promotion durations could be 1, 1.5, or 2 hours
  • Offered different types of promotion slogans, such as: “buy one get one free”, “20% off”, and “buy two get the second one 50% off”.
  • Provided design templates for information layouts
  • Sent out promotions/coupons through iBeacon to customers who were nearby the store
  • Sent notifications to LivingFun users

Digital promotion service

  • Allowed store owners to upload their own product photos
  • Offered certain types of promotions, such as: “free delivery”, and “spend $1000 and get a $100 coupon”.
  • Provided design templates for information layouts
  • Showed promotions on 10 digital signboards located at Feng Chia Night Market and the LivingFun store page

Cutomers could

  • See the self-ordering ad with QR code on the table. The light above the table would be yellow
  • Use the self-ordering service on their phone and the light would turn green
  • Confirm their order to check out and the light would turn blue
  • Receive discount pop-up information and decide whether to sign up for a LivingFun account to redeem the discount

Store owners and staff could

  • Manage self-ordering on mBoss
  • See the status of customers’ orders: The color of the buttons on the app would coordinate with the lights above customers’ tables
  • Add discounts and adjust orders during and after confirmation

Takeaways

This project motivated me to become a designer. As a marketer, I was not able to change the product and service but as a designer I have the responsibility to offer the service and product with good user experience. Through conducting different kinds of user research and service design methodologies, I understand users from a deeper and wider degree.


At the beginning, we aimed to reduce visitors’ time of waiting for food. When I interviewed visitors, I found they enjoyed their time waiting for food at the night market because the stalls with the queues were popular and served delicious food. Store owners worried about not having people in front of their shops. Therefore, we redefined our target audience and services.


I found the potential functions for store owners and staff could be improved and provided when I redesigned the interface in 2019. Unlike the initial launch, after agile development I would have user tested and iterated the mBoss features with store owners and staff before launching the services.


Contributors: Vincent Huang (Assistant Vice President), Henry Lin (Project Manager), Jack Tsai (System Manager), Kai Chen (Developer), Chase (Developer), Wilson Lai (Marketer), Silvia Huang (Marketer), and Ninecat Wu (Visual Designer).