Lanter Delivery systems is a B2B, shared delivery, logistics company. Their major clients are car manufacturers and agricultural OEMs. Lanter delivers all machineries and parts manufactured by their customers to multiple dealers across the whole country (USA). In order for a parcel to reach its destination (point zero or dealer in Lanter terminology) it has to go through multiple warehouses from all different cities and states. To give better customer service Lanter has to make sure the safety of parcels and keep customers and dealers updated with the current state and location of parcels. Goal of the project was to replace an almost 18 years old system, which worked on Palm OS with a better, faster and cheaper Android and iOS system.
Before I went into the research and discovery phase for a new project, I needed to level up with existing knowledge and systems. Most challenging part was to get a clear idea about terminologies used by the team and understanding the parcel label structure, which was different for each customer. Apart from widely used terms in the logistic world there were lots of other non-standard terms used by the Lanter team to communicate effectively. Another big challenge was to move the huge workforce to a new system, which would require a re-training of all employees (Warehouse workers and drivers).
Having a system which can scan 10% more parcels as compared to the current system in given time, in phase 1 launch with the least amount of difficulties and user interactions. Reduce infrastructure expenses. Be platform independent.
I started my case by studying the existing system, leveling up myself with the terminologies and scenarios which happen day to day in the Lanter world. We all agreed on a 5 days opportunity and strategy workshop at client location, Saint Louis. Idea was to get all stakeholders in one room along with the Mobisoft team, in order to understand everyone’s expectations. We spent 5 days discussing current challenges, whiteboarding quick ideas, visiting Lanter facilities, meeting all different people involved in the process on ground and office. I also spent a lot of time interviewing individual stakeholders during this time, this helped me in understanding their challenges more clearly, as they were able to communicate more freely in these interviews. One of the most common themes which emerged from these workshop sessions was “Just scan it”. Idea was to reduce manual hand (tapping, swiping, selecting) interaction and let the system be intelligent enough about the context of the parcel. Users just need to scan and the system will figure out rest. “Just scan it” became the motto of our rest of the design process. There are also multiple discussions and agreements how QR codes labels will be used to make “just scan it process” successful.
One of the challenges I faced in interaction design while designing was, how to communicate to the user what is happening on the screen. Of Course there will be multiple training sessions which will explain to the user how to use the new system but it should be self sufficient for edge cases, specially when users will be performing hundreds of scans (or more in some cases) per day. We relied on three visual senses to communicate if anything goes wrong. System should communicate with the user by sight, hearing and touch senses. Visual, audio and vibration interactions were used in case of exceptions and errors. For any successful scan we relied on visual and sound feedback only.
This was one of the projects where I got a chance to work on a wide variety of UX processes, and see first hand, how things happen on the ground. From an interaction point of view, Lanter was a completely different challenge for me. It helped in broadening my imaginations what possible things we can do with a simple mobile app. This was certainly a big step forward for me in interaction design learnings, from typical hub-and-spoke pattern to “Just scan it” pattern.