Most of you living around the UK and Ireland will be familiar with Iceland foods. For those of you who are not, Iceland foods is a supermarket chain whose main product lines are frozen foods and desserts.
The chain has received it’s fair share of criticism over the years, but a recent BBC2 documentary series showed that under the hood, there’s a lot to love about this small retail chain.
Malcolm Walker, Iceland’s founder, remains a driving force behind a lot of the innovation at the company. And while a lot of you who know the reputation may scoff at my decision to use the word ‘innovation’, there’s a lot to admire here. In the documentary series, we get to see how Mr Walker takes a hypothesis, tests it, analysis the results and uses those to further enhance the original proposal. In a specific example, I want to look at his idea to bring in a new range of wine.
“This isn’t ‘White Label’; this isn’t cheap. It’s just simplicity”
An interesting take on the elaborate labels of wine bottles, Malcolm Waker decides to test out a new design for the different types of wine. He decides to minimise the information, calling them each “Good Red”, “Good Rose” and “Good White” in a way to make the shopping experience easier for his customers.
I can’t help but draw a comparison between this and the ‘Wine Drink’ that the 99th Precinct bring to Captain Holt’s birthday party in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I admire his courage, his decision to try something new, and learn from the results.
The new wine bottle design didn’t work, but when they juxtaposed it with the traditional bottles, wine sales went up.
“Sales in this store are probably 15% up on wine”
What We Can Learn
This may not have been the desired outcome, but at least it was a positive result for the store. There is a lesson in bravery here. The store owner decided to try something, and was prepared to take responsibility if it didn’t work on the first try. He fully accepted that this might need adjustment, and it’s the sort of thing UX Designers work with every day. Testing out ideas, and using the results to improve the experience over time.