A unified ordering and inventory management system with improved customer experience
Harbor Wholesale is one of the Pacific Northwest’s largest independent wholesale foods distributors. As one of the most innovative wholesalers in the industry, they came to us because they define the leading edge and develop organizational strategies to compete with larger national brands. Our job was to think through how to leverage and unify their existing systems and workflows while creating a tool for more seamless inventory management.
Fresh strategists, designers, and developers delivered a full spectrum of services to provide Harbor Wholesale with a competitive position. Field research, design iteration, and creative collateral allowed us to establish a consistent user experience across all customer touchpoints. Fresh developers completed extensive technical planning, including API research, proposing an architectural stack, and diagramming their various technological systems to account for integrations. Other deliverables included video and animation to showcase Harbor Wholesale products and services and a comprehensive proposal for innovative integrations like chatbots and artificial intelligence.
Understanding the world of wholesale distribution
Looking at market data and trends is often a good starting point for understanding the landscape of a challenge. But danger arises when you use these sources and create assumptions.
Central to our discovery approach at Fresh is analyzing observational data and conducting experimental research. A significant part of the engagement involved going into the field to interview convenience store clerks on site. We explored stores of different sizes and in different geographical areas in urban and remote settings. We also interviewed service employees from Harbor to gain a deeper understanding of the industry. Customer interviews, competitor reviews, card sorting allowed to plan features after thoroughly understanding and defining the problem.
Transforming Harbor's workflows
Our in-depth research led to a core discovery: to optimize efficiency and create more innovative approaches to wholesale distribution, we’d have to remap their manual, existing workflow into a digital one. But there were numerous workflows and users, and we had to ensure that all of the various pieces worked harmoniously on a single platform.
To test concepts prior to in-depth design and development, we used our findings to plan information architecture, develop low-fidelity prototypes, and conduct extensive user testing.
Technology to make convenience a reality
After the first two phases, we’d significantly improved Harbor’s workflows. The creative and technical teams then partnered to ensure that the design’s ease-of-use was matched with technology that ensured efficiency and a better overall user experience.
Because the app had so many different touchpoints and interactions, we created a design language system to define all styles and interface patterns. Even though the hub connected various products used throughout the customer experience, the unified visual style creates a cohesive, branded experience.
Delivering scalable finished product
After finishing design and development, Harbor would own and operate the product. So, it was essential for our developers to ensure the client became masters of their own system. Our development worked onsite with Harbor to ensure they understood every aspect of how the product was built, down to the level of the tech stack and our logic for choosing it.
Onboarding Harbor’s team to the intricacies of features and functionality ensured that they can continue scaling the product independently after launch.
Driving energy and awareness with video
Our full-service video and motion design team worked with Harbor and actual clients to create commercials, demos, and explainer videos that show how the application works and the value it has for prospective customers. The effort involved more onsite research and exploration in the interest of creating an authentic story and driving demand for Harbor, their products, and their innovative approach to wholesale distribution.