Grocery Baskets


I didn't ask Copilot to make me so muscular...

I'm a terrible grocery shopper.

I walk in to buy one thing, and end up leaving with 12.

I briskly walk right past the shopping carts and baskets - with the intention to be in and out.

Then, somewhere along the way, I start to meander. I reminisce of long-forgotten meals. I think of things I ate as a child, or something I'd always wanted to try - and before I know it I have more things in my hands than I'd accounted for. Sometimes I'll buy things I've never intended to buy - determined that today's the day I'll find out whether vegemite and marmite are the same thing.

I'll romanticize Rye bread. I've never particularly liked it - but maybe because I've never tried the right kind of Rye bread? I hum the American Pie chorus as I grab a loaf as I realize, for the first time, the lyrics have nothing to do with Rye bread. Drinking whiskey and rye... why did I always imagine people eating slices of rye bread at a bar?  Maybe I need to find a good cheese to pair with it?

And here's where the struggle begins. With no basket, and no cart I'm a disaster waiting to happen. I've stacked one thing over another, precariously balancing glass jars, while simultaneously cutting off circulation to my fingers, teetering back and forth and doing my best to not wind up on YouTube.

And, weirdly, just before disaster I am saved. There is a spot in my grocery store, against the far-back wall, where they keep a stack of grocery baskets. I always forget about them - then breath a relieved "Oh yeah!" when I spot them. I always marvel at the intentionality of these baskets. These baskets were placed for people like me. They are there to save me from myself. They make me feel seen.

This has happened on so many occasions that I'd made it a point to thank the store manager for that stack of baskets. The manager was a little baffled - but that's ok. As long as he knew those baskets were a feature, not a bug, I was happy.

It's so much more than just placing a grocery basket somewhere. It's incredibly insightful UX design. It's knowing your customers so well that you know there's a subset who are like me - and it's implementing a low-cost/low-lift solution at the time when I need the customer needs it most. 

It's also the type of feature that would get cut when some well-intending efficiency expert realizes the cost that goes into maintaining a stack of baskets in the far corner of the grocery store. "It's pointless!" they cry out, as they move them to the front of the store and celebrate their cost-savings.

"But what about the grocers who grab more things than they intended?" the feature owner asks.

"They need to shop like everyone else!"

And, gradually, the product becomes sterilized. The user-centric experience a thing of the past.

Popular

Let's Clear Up The Ambiguity!

FAQs for a Software Engineering Hiring Manager

7 Steps to Writing an Amazing Resume

7 Steps to Building your Portfolio MVP

On Systems Debt