The convenience of grocery delivery services like Amazon, Shipt, Peapod, or Instacart is undeniable. From the comfort of your home or office, on a computer, tablet, or phone, you can do your grocery shopping and have it delivered to your home, sometimes in less than an hour. It’s no wonder that FMI.org’s Digital Shopper survey has predicted that by 2022 consumers could be spending as much as $100 billion on online grocery shopping.
You may have sensed a big however on the horizon, and it’s true, there are a few drawbacks to grocery delivery services. When I was in line behind an Instacart shopper recently, I noted that she had a frozen pizza, a carton of eggs, a gallon of milk, and a loaf of bread on the conveyor belt. I was shocked when the shopper used four thick, plastic bags for the order. As she was bagging, I asked why she used so many bags for such a small order. She explained that because part of Instacart’s service is staging shopped orders on shelves, fridges, and freezers before being delivered, it required bagging each item individually so they could be stored effectively.
I live in Austin, TX, where we had a bag ban go into and out of effect. While the bag ban was in effect, the city noted that after two years, “based on litter abatement figures from two large scale cleanup events; the number of plastic bags [had] been reduced by 75%.” While a 2018 ruling by the Supreme Court of Texas made it impossible for the city of Austin to enforce its policy, fortunately, many of our local grocery stores have continued to encourage the use of reusable bags. A cursory glance around an H-E-B on a Sunday reveals a high percentage of customers who bring their own tote bags or reuse the thick plastic bags that you can purchase at H-E-B.
When services like Instacart shop for their thousands of customers; however, those customers do not have the option to use their personal tote bags or reuse a plastic bag. As an Instacart customer, I can also attest that aside from copying and pasting notes into each individual produce item, there is no simple way to request that your shopper not use an excessive amount of plastic produce bags while shopping.
I know that, personally, the number of plastic bags used in delivery services precludes me from using a service like Instacart again, despite the convenience of coming home to a full fridge. As a UX Designer, though, problems like this one tickle my brain and I started itching to see if there were any ways to make grocery delivery services more environmentally friendly.
In this case study, I will take this problem and break it down through research, ideation, prototyping, and user testing. Join me on this journey to capitalize on the growing trend of sustainability marketing while also helping the planet.