In the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic, online grocery stores in the US were overloaded and often failed to meet the sudden demand. People were desperately filling in their carts only to discover that their order could not be delivered or there were no pickup windows available. Those lucky enough to place the order found that many of their items were missing upon delivery. Grocery stores were overwhelmed, the supply was low (as people were stocking up), and there were too few employees available to deliver the order or help with pickup.
The pandemic was a corner case for a system that was not designed for extreme situations: in typical circumstances, most stores in the US expect to be able to find a delivery window and to have a stable inventory that doesn’t change from one moment to the next. So, in normal conditions, it may be okay to ask users to select a delivery window or a pickup window during the last steps of the checkout. But, during the pandemic, that proved a big problem. Luckily, some retailers moved quickly, identified the issues, and fixed some of their flow problems.
It is impossible to predict every future emergency perfectly. All we can predict is that therewill be紧急情况：自然灾害，罢工，进口或出口禁令，战争，产品短缺，设备故障，并列出。许多此类障碍会影响电子商务网站的能力，如预期的那样，必须在用户体验中正确反映。You can’t design for every eventuality in advance, but, for proper contingency planning, you should develop an understanding of the kinds of things that can go wrong and of your users’ main concerns, and find the best way to clearly explain limiting circumstances and plan your response to fast-changing constraints.
请注意，模糊的措辞如Available today不是特定的足够 - 人们有各种各样的制约因素，并且经常希望确保他们在家安全地储存食物。允许用户查看其区域中可用的确切交付窗口，以便能够在开始购物之前进行明智的决定。即使您有一些送货窗口，请记住，人们可能会在其所需交货日期前几天购买杂货（特别是在大流行期间，他们了解到他们必须提前计划，并且很难确保它很难确保一个下一天的交付窗口）。
Scarce delivery windows were a common experience during the early months of pandemic. I have heard many stories of people staying up until 12 am or waking early in the morning to catch a delivery window. It was often the case that, when they had finally caught a window, they remembered that they needed an extra item and left the checkout to add it to the cart. Of course, once they came back, the delivery window was gone!
That is why it’s important to allow users to reserve a window. That reservation can be valid for a limited amount of time — say 30 minutes. (This approach is already used by event-ticket vendors.)
- If the user has specified a delivery time or location, check first that the delivery can be made at that time or location. Alert the user if any of these are unavailable as soon as possible in the shopping process.
With DoorDash, a restaurant-delivery application, users could locate a restaurant, set a delivery time, and spend time adding items to cart, only to then discover at checkout that the restaurant was either closed at the desired delivery time or did not deliver to the user’s address. Even though the restaurant page included that information, it was not clear enough and easy to miss. A better solution would have been to alert users as soon as they started adding items to the cart and offer them a suggestion for how to proceed (e.g., tell them that they should switch a different restaurant).
一旦用户有一个项目添加到购物车,delivery information and time should be confirmed, in order to make sure that people don’t spend unnecessary effort on an impossible task. If the delivery time and address are not serviceable, alert the user before it’s too late. Offer them alternatives whenever possible (e.g., different delivery times or different restaurants).
Replacements and Substitutions
Especially during the pandemic, supply chains became overstressed and certain products were available for a short amount of time. It was very common for people to add an item to their grocery shopping cart only to discover that it was out of stock on the day when they received their order and it was replaced for something that was completely useless. For example, in one of my orders, cleaning vinegar was replaced with organic lemon juice. A friend received beets instead of radishes.
在购物期间选择不同的产品是最容易选择的，因此应该提示用户进行替换时。但是被要求选择为每个产品选择替代乏味 - 所以，只适用于那些存货运行低的产品。
In the substitution step at checkout (see above), Amazon showed the on-file phone number for the user and explained she will be texted with a possible replacement that will need approval.
- Don’t automatically remove an item that is out of stock from the购物车。Instead, mark it as unavailable or out of stock.
In the early days of the pandemic it was common for people to add items to their grocery cart and wait throughout the day for a delivery window to become available. But, because of the time lag between shopping and actually placing the order, often some of the items in the cart became unavailable. When users finally found a delivery window, they placed the order without realizing that now it did no longer include milk or some other essential item.
In general, when没有东西不可用, it’s best to (a) explicitly say so, (b) if possible estimate the availability date, and (c) offer users the option to enter their email address to be notified upon availability.
- Indicate any quantity limits on the product page.
- Where applicable, clearly disclose whether the online prices are the same with in-store prices before people start shopping.
- Be upfront about extra costs (service chargers, tips) that the shopper will have to incur.
Often customers have an unpleasant surprise at the checkout when they see theextra delivery and service feesthat are added to the cost of their items. If the delivery or pickup incurs extra charges or fees, disclose them upfront, so people know what to expect.
- Allow users to specify a no-contact delivery or pickup option. Make that option the default.
In the early days of the pandemic, I received a takeout order from a local restaurant through Yelp. I was unpleasantly surprised when the driver rang my doorbell and waited for me to pick up the order, as I would have preferred to not have to interact with him. (Even though it may feel that waiting to make sure that the customer received the order is common curtesy, that bit of customer service may be perceived as against social-distancing rules.)
When I came back to Yelp, I noticed that the site did have a contactless delivery-option, but that was not the default. Since then, Yelp has adapted to the new reality and changed its default.
- If people must sign or receive certain deliveries (e.g., alcohol) in person, be explicit about that requirement during checkout and on the final order-confirmation page.
Normally, the user is required to sign for certain deliveries. The need for a signature should be clearly specified on the place-order page as well as in the final confirmation page, so people will know what to expect.
For example, while ordering wine with Instacart, the user was allowed to specify that the order can be left at the door. However, because the order contained alcohol, the user had to be present to receive the groceries. The final confirmation did not indicate that. (Even though it is custom to ask for ID for alcohol deliveries in the US, some people may assume that the restrictions have been relaxed because of the virus.)
Some of the guidelines in this article are specific to the problems during a pandemic. But many are special cases of general principles of good workflow design that apply in many other circumstances, including normal times. Disregarding them may work when product and delivery availability are high, but breaks the design in extreme situations and uncovers some hidden usability issues. These general principles are:
- Figure out if you can fulfill the order before the user puts in any substantial work. That means asking for customers’ constraints upfront (delivery area, desired time of delivery) or allowing them to see (and reserve) the available delivery and pickup windows. If it’s not possible to satisfy those constraints, offer alternatives (available delivery windows, alternate stores).
- Once the user starts adding items to cart, keep those items in the cart, whether they become out of stock or not. Mark those items clearly.
- Be transparent about minimum-price delivery limits and extra fees.