UMN ReUse Program
After we finished our low-fi and mid-fi prototypes, we moved to the last stage, the final deliverables. We took all of the research and feedback we received and created signage and map prototypes that UMN ReUse could use in their warehouse to help the staff and customers better navigate.
UMN ReUse Map
We created a 3' x 4' map of the warehouse for them to hang up at the front desk. The map shows the aisles in the warehouse that are used for reselling items. This will coordinate with the discs shown below that will have several different categories of items that UMN ReUse sells. The discs can then be placed onto the map wherever the staff wants those items to go. This will help the staff be more organized, as they will know exactly where to put each item as it comes in. This will also be helpful for customers so that they can more quickly and efficiently navigate the warehouse.
UMN ReUse Discs
To the sides and below are the two different disc templates created by our team. They are made to be customized so that they can fit any category the warehouse would like to add. The icons are especially helpful to add some more imagery to the warehouse. Most of the signs they were using before were text heavy, so we wanted to draw the customers attention by using bright eye- catching images.
UMN ReUse was looking for a way to help customers more easily navigate the warehouse, and this included helping customers find prices more quickly.
We made different signage templates for the two sizes of signs UMN ReUse wanted printed. The larger sign featured on the left is 11" x 17". The ReUse Center will be able to put whatever content they want on the signs so that as things change in the warehouse they can customize their signage to the changes.
The smaller signage is 8" x 11" and consists of 2 columns. One is for naming the item that is on the shelf and the second for listing it's price. These signs will be put into cardboard sign prototypes and then attached to each aisle as needed.
Cardboard Sign Prototype
One of UMN ReUse's core values is sustainability. Because of this, we wanted to use materials that they already had excess of, so that we were not creating more waste in the process of helping them. These cardboard signs are examples of what the ReUse UMN staff will replicate, they will hold the signage templates that were featured in the last section.
The first prototype is a larger piece of cardboard attached to a cut out U shape. The cardboard sign is then able to slid into the U and the whole thing can be folded accordingly. The diagram on the bottom shows how it is constructed and includes dimensions.
The second prototype is create by putting 4 slits into a deconstructed cardboard box. Then there is an added sliding cardboard piece that goes into the slits that the signs would be taped onto.
Both prototypes are folded in the center so they will be able to be attached to the racking by the UMN ReUse staff with ease.
In this phase we constructed lo-fi prototypes of our favorite ideas to better visually and functionally process our ideas and potential solutions.
Our fist lo-fi model was a customizable map with movable pieces to meet the constantly changing inventory of the ReUse UMN warehouse. We wanted to create a system that was visually appealing and comprehensive to customers but also the staff who organize the warehouse. The pipe cleaners are representative of the warehouse aisles and the white disks indicate the location of categorized products. With a key at the bottom, customers would easily be able to match up their shopping needs to product location.
Our next prototype was intended to creating an inviting entry to the customers of ReUse UMN. The purpose of this was to make the warehouse feel more like a store versus a storage unit. With homey couches and coffee tables, flowers, and product put in a "context" display, shoppers can visualize the potential for ReUse's products.
Pictures speak louder than words. Visualization is key in the customer journey and comprehension to a layout. Therefore we had prototypes signage that has more visual appeal. When considering the size and beautiful chaos of the warehouse, we decided that stand out visuals would best guide customers around the warehouse.
During the initial ideation stage, we thought of multiple ways to either organize or navigate the Reuse warehouse.
Display Items Working
One of our first ideas inside the warehouse was to have items that are displayed be in use. Having lamps be on so people can see how they might look inside their house, or having heaters plugged in so customers know they function well. Doing this inside the building would help organize it since similar items would be placed together. It also would've made items more appealing to buy.
Another initial idea was creating a more appealing front display inside the store. It would be located in one of the main aisles right when people walk in. Doing this would again allows customers to more easily visualize what things could look like inside their own homes.
Our third idea, which was more focused on the organization of the warehouse, was to have better signage and labeling for the aisles. Similar to Home Depot or Menards, the aisles would have higher signage that says the aisle number and the main items located there.
Signage with More Visuals
To make signs more eye catching and interesting to the customers, we thought of doing signs with more graphics on them. Instead of just saying whats located in the aisle, there can be a image of it instead.
Map of the Warehouse
Our last idea that we were interested in the most was having a map near the entrance of the warehouse. People can reference it to know where main items are located. It would have small visuals placed in the corresponding location that can be taken off easily and replaced if items are moved around in the store.
User & Market Research
Since UMN reuse is known for selling furniture and other secondhand items, research into the furniture and resale market helped identify the ways in which UMN reuse could be improved.
The image above is an analysis of the furniture industry. Further analysis was done on particular competitors of UMN reuse's market niche. UMN reuse's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats were identified.
Surveys and interviews were conducted online, in person, and at UMN Reuse to get feedback on ways the warehouse could provide an improved shopping experience.
“I was looking for [lab equipment] and was drawn to similar looking products”
The market analysis points out that UMN Reuse's appeals include affordability and sustainability. UMN Reuse customers also value the variety and rarity of items offered. Both indicate the warehouse would greatly benefit from a greater amount of organization and engagement with the UMN community.