Designing an end-to-end shopping experience for Indian Farmers
The Why Our farmers reach out to us for Agri advisory and purchase of agri-inputs either through the toll-free number or by using our Android app called ‘AgroStar Kisaan App’. The shopping experience on the AgroStar Agri Doctor app was always an assisted one.
We had a ‘Want to buy’ button on every product detail screen through which farmers could express their intent to buy the product. Our team would then call the farmers to confirm the purchase and buy the product through the assistance of the Agri advisor on the call.
So why was it assisted like this? Well, farmers were still learning to shop on smartphones as it was a fairly new concept for them and we had to give them time to build trust. In time, as we witnessed the growing awareness of farmers about online shopping, their comfort in using our assisted shopping service, and their growing trust in us, we decided that it was time to make the shopping experience to the next level. So, in Sept 2019 we decided to let farmers shop directly from the app without any assistance. This means farmers could now shop from AgroStar at any time of the day without having to wait for our call to confirm the order and process it.
The Goal Our aim was to make the shopping experience very simple because not to forget we will still have many farmers who were going to be first-time smartphone users. We wanted them to make an informed decision before buying. We were clear that we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel for them. This will also be the first time many of our farmers might be shopping online. In the initial stage, while the Product team was scoping out possibilities, with the help of our Agri Advisory Center, the Design team started surveying our existing app farmers. We called almost 180 farmers and asked them about their online shopping experience outside AgroStar. We were curious to know if they had ever shopped online. If yes, then which apps have they used. The survey helped us get a few quick insights to start brainstorming and gave us a direction. The Design, Product, and Engineering team then spent considerable time exploring various options, evaluating how we could optimally build a scalable eCommerce experience.
Designing the experience We went to the drawing board and started wireframing the flow. We drew inspiration from the already established eCommerce apps.
We tested out our first drafts with our Pseudo users to get first-level feedback. Who were these Pseudo users? They were our Agri Advisors. Why them? All of them come from an agricultural background and are children of farmers themselves. So many of them have actually done farming too. This background and experience similarity prompted us to show them the designs. Testing designs with them helped us to get faster feedback and eliminate basic loopholes. Based on their inputs we then iterated our designs and were ready to go out in the field for the actual testing with our users.
Testing our designs In the interest of time, we planned for a two-day field visit to Aurangabad, which is closer to our Head Office Pune, for our usability testing. We shortlisted some of our high-activity app users who have shopped at least once from the app. Testing design with our farmers Day 1: We left for Aurangabad early morning (a 6-hour drive from Pune). We plotted our farmers’ locations on the map and planned to meet them on our way to Aurangabad. We met 5 farmers on Day 1 and we showed them the interactive designs. We asked them to think out loud while they are interacting with the design. This helped us get a better idea about what their understanding is and what did we miss out on. The woohoo moment for us was when 4 out of 5 farmers were able to complete the flow with minimal help. WooHoo! During this visit, we tried digging deeper into factors that influenced their buying decision while shopping. We simply printed out the screen and cut each section separately. We handed these cutouts to the farmers and asked them to arrange them in a sequence. This helped us prioritize information better on the screen. Farmers helping us prioritize and structure information By the end of the day, we had collected some great insights. So soon after reaching our hotel in Aurangabad we reiterated our design and prepared a new interactive mockup for Day 2.
Day 2: We checked out of our hotel and started visiting the rest of the farmers. On this day we were showing them the updated designs. We saw the same pattern as the day before, and our design iteration was a success. WooHoo yet again! People were noticing it and were able to better understand its value. By this time we could see some patterns in the farmers’ behavior. After coming back to Pune, we clubbed all our insights, and based on them we finalized our design in the coming days.
Final Outcome — Unassisted shopping We worked with our engineers to push this out. They worked night and day to build our current unassisted shopping experience for our app farmers. They locked themselves in the war room and worked non-stop for a couple of days. With great joy, we released the first version (read MVP) of unassisted shopping on the AgroStar Agri Doctor app on 15th Nov 2019. Farmers are loving the new shopping experience on the app. We are continuously learning from the users and are working towards improving it. As you finish reading this article, guess what? We are gearing up for the next release with an even better shopping experience :)