With 13,900 employees at 354 locations across 60 countries, Aramex is the largest courier company in the Middle East. They entrusted us with the task of re-inventing their Windows Mobile E-Courier solution with the following project goals in mind.
Primary Project Goals
- Replace expensive, rugged devices in the field with a smartphone based BYOD model
- Consolidate the number of devices a courier needs to carry
- Reduce training needed and increase productivity
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Strategy & Ideation
On face value, the initial two goals would be easily resolved by porting the solution to run on Windows Phone, iOS, and Android platforms. From there we’d leverage our strengths in UX design and design-led software development to facilitate an exceptional user experience with a focus on productivity and efficiency.
The Challenge at Hand
Other than the project documentation Aramex provided us with, our design team had very little knowledge on what a courier driver’s daily routine was or what their task management software should look like. It also didn’t help that we were the first team in the World to attempt porting such a solution to Windows Phone!
We believe the best way to understand the challenge at hand is to walk a mile in the shoes of the end user, so that’s what we did! We put on an Aramex cap and accompanied them on their daily runs for a few days.
Observing their daily routine gave us immense insight into the task at hand. Here are some of the points that stood out.
What We Observed
- We were going to port this solution onto a completely different interaction paradigm (Windows Mobile stylus input vs smartphone touch input). Despite this, we had to ensure the new solution still felt familiar and intuitive for them.
- Their tasks relied heavily on the speed and efficiency of the infrared scanner hardware. The limitations of pixel based, smart-phone camera bar-code detection would mean we could never match it so we needed to think of clever ways of making the scanning experience ‘feel’ as fast as possible
- Packages would be scanned under various lighting conditions and had a reflective surface which posed a real challenge for pixel based bar-code detection
- Carrying multiple devices gave rise to serious inefficiencies which we could easily remedy with the use of a smart-phone solution. E.g. drivers would commonly park up, scan a package, pull up customer details, manually input customer phone number into mobile, call customer and ask for directions. We could consolidate ALL of those steps with a click of a button via a smart-phone i.e. scan package and click ‘call’ or ‘route’
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Design & Refinement
Once we felt we had a good grasp of the problem space and had a clear design vision, we began brainstorming a solution. We came up with the overall information architecture and fleshed out how users would navigate the app. We then began conceptualizing how we would solve the challenges we observed.
Barcode Scanning Ideas
- The first thing couriers usually access when attempting to complete a task is the scan tool, despite this we placed the scanning interface in the secondary position of the tasks pivot control. This idea came about to mitigate delays in camera loading time. We’d fire up the camera as a background task and as soon as the user swiped into the scanning experience the camera was instantly available giving the illusion of speed and efficiency.
- The existing solution heavily relied on the user to navigate the interface to action a specific task. To help reduce unnecessary decision making, we came up with ‘smart scanning’ logic where the app would pull the correction action depending on the barcode scanned. For example, if they scanned a barcode that didn’t exist in their task list it automatically brought up the new task creation form.
- Most importantly, we gave users an easy way to manually input a barcode via a big dial pad in the event that barcode detection was too fiddly. We also got Aramex to forward us everything that was unique about their barcodes so that we could set up some scanning logic that heavily prevented false positives.
We had detailed feedback sessions after every design submission. Due to the nature and complexity of the Aramex project, we opted to add in a UX feedback workshop prior to submitting the final design document.
We spent a further two weeks in Amman at Aramex headquarters going hover high fidelity design documents with various stakeholders. We then worked on site at their offices during the duration of the workshop and made amendments to the design as they came up until we felt we were ready to submit the final design and start development.
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The journey was long but the final result was well worth the effort. Aramex were now able to leverage cost-effective, low-end devices they could issue to their couriers without compromising on any functionality when conducting their daily run.
The use of smartphones facilitated a much more personal E-Courier experience. The app even greets the courier and reminds them to stay safe as they start their day!
The home screen features a summary that displays all important task notifications in a single location. It also leverages a global notification icon that is visible from anywhere within the app giving them instant access to their summary.
Smart use of colour and typography gives couriers a sense of task priority and keeps them informed on task status dynamically throughout their day.
Powerful yet intuitive search, sort and filtering tools help couriers effortlessly manage their tasks.
We integrated our custom ‘digital ink’ algorithm which makes signing feel natural and facilitates a much more accurate signature capture for accurate customer validation.
The app enables the consolidation of a scanner, mobile phone and GPS navigator into a single smartphone device. Call/SMS customers and get address directions are examples of tasks that were previously time consuming, tedious or even unsafe. With a smartphone they are trivial.
By designing and developing a custom app for each of the three major smartphone platforms, Aramex staff are empowered via their own personal devices. Each app leverages the native look and feel of the respective platform to provide the best possible experience.
To conclude, we were able to take an existing solution that was critical to Aramex’s business process and port it to an entirely new medium in an innovative way that leveraged bleeding edge technology. Moving forward, this initiative will generate enormous savings for Aramex drastically improve the end user experience making Aramex management and courier workforce happy.