Virtual Smoothie Cafe
My local gym, ACAC, has several locations around Charlottesville, many of them with a smoothie cafe. The smoothies themselves are great, but members can only order in person at the cafe, there is no online menu to preview, there are often lines during the gym’s peak hours, and there is no easy way to order a smoothie ahead.
I designed a smoothie-ordering application that allows members to browse the menu from their phone, customize the ingredients, and place orders ahead to be ready for pickup when they are finished hitting the gym.
Here, I outline the user’s journey with the Virtual Smoothie Cafe, from logging in for the first time, to browsing the menu and placing an order, to being notified when that order is ready for pickup.
The loading screen for the Virtual Smoothie Cafe utilizes ACAC’s branding and colors, but incorporates their logo mark into a new smoothie icon.
ACAC has an online portal where members can create a username and password for their gym membership account. By linking the Virtual Smoothie Cafe to their existing membership account, users will be able to make smoothie purchases through the app and have it added to their monthly bill, as opposed to adding credit cards or different payment methods.
Upon opening the app, users will see the smoothie menu. This shows all of the smoothies that are available at the different Charlottesville ACAC cafe locations. The menu is divided into Wellness and Recovery smoothies, to help guide those looking for a lower calorie option or for a post-workout protein smoothie.
If users have favorited any smoothies, those are accessible on this menu page as well.
Clicking on a smoothie leads the user to the smoothie details page. Here they will see the price and the ingredients, as well as the nutritional content.
They can also customize their smoothie by swiping or clicking to the Customize tab. There, they’ll be able to make common swaps like almond milk for whole milk, to change the amounts of certain ingredients like protein powder, and add additional ingredients from the list of add-ons. All of this customization is possible when ordering in-person at the cafe, but not all customers know what the options are and they won’t be able to see how their customizations affect the overall nutritional profile of their smoothie.
Once the user has chosen a smoothie, they simply click the “+” button to add it to their cart, and they can see the quantity reflected in the counter above the cart in the navigation.
When users are ready to order their smoothie(s), they visit the Cart in order to checkout. The shopping cart default is to order the smoothie for immediate pickup, but users can schedule their order for later, and choose the time and date for their order to be ready.
Orders in Progress
Once an order has been placed, that smoothie(s) will appear under “Scheduled” on the Orders screen. There, users can view what smoothie(s) they have scheduled and what their pickup times will be. At 60 minutes from the scheduled pickup time, the order will change to show a count-down of the number of minutes left, and the notification changes as well when the order is ready for pickup.
Once an order has been picked up, it is accessible under the “Order History” page. There, past orders are broken up by month so that users can see at a glance their smoothie purchases per month. This delineation also follows the ACAC member billing cycle, so users can see the orders grouped together that contribute to each of their monthly bills.
As a way to entice repeat customers, I’ve developed a Rewards feature that enables users to earn a free smoothie or a discount after a certain number of purchases. Users can view their available rewards on the Rewards page, and they are reminded of the number of smoothies they have left until their next reward on the Orders page.
On the Account screen, users can connect the Virtual Smoothie Cafe to their ACAC member account, which allows them to charge orders directly to their ACAC account. Users can also add alternative methods of payment, choose their default ACAC location, and edit the notification settings.
Making Ordering & Pickup Easier
In order to develop the Virtual Smoothie Cafe (VSC), I interviewed my friends and family members who frequent the ACAC smoothie cafes to get a sense of their smoothie ordering habits and preferences. I was particularly interested in what parts of the ordering and pickup experience they found frustrating and how a mobile product could potentially alleviate some of those friction points.
Below is a list of the ways that the VSC can improve the the ACAC smoothie ordering and pickup experience.
making menu browsing easier
ACAC: The menu can only be browsed in person at the cafe. Furthermore, it is a small, single sheet of laminated paper, making it difficult to browse ahead or when there is a line.
VSC: The user to browse the menu from their phone and place orders without needing to wait in lines or even be at the cafe.
including photos of smoothie ingredients
ACAC: The menu doesn’t feature photos of the smoothies, and it’s hard to make a choice simply based on the list of ingredients.
VSC: The best visual representation of a smoothie is not a photo of the finished product, but rather the ingredients before they enter the blender and become a homogenous, liquid mixture. I staged a photoshoot to capture the raw ingredients that go into each smoothie and created a more graphic visual representation of the smoothies for the menu.
make it easier to customize orders
ACAC: It’s not obvious right away that you can customize smoothies, by making changes like doubling the protein powder, swapping in almond milk, or including add-ons like banana or chia seeds.
VSC: The nutritional information and ingredients are prominently displayed on the smoothie detail pages, as are the options to customize the ingredients and add additional ones. By recording the customizations with the app (as opposed to a verbally ordering in person), it allows for the calculation of how customizations will affect the nutritional content of the smoothie.
decreasing inconvenient waiting periods
ACAC: During peak hours, there’s often a line at the cafe to order a smoothie and then an additional waiting period while your smoothie is prepared, which is particularly inconvenient when you want to fuel up quickly after tough workout.
VSC: Users can make sure their smoothie is ready exactly when they are. The shopping cart defaults to placing the order immediately, or users can schedule their order to be ready later, at their desired pickup time.
adding a favorites list for quicker ordering
ACAC: Customers often have a favorite or go-to smoothie with their unique set of customizations, and those specifics must be repeated and explained every time you order it in person at the cafe, especially if it’s not the usual cafe attendant.
VSC: The menu includes a favorites feature, which allows users to add smoothies to a favorites list, making re-ordering their go-to smoothie a breeze.
I’ve shared my designs with a number of the smoothie cafe attendants and fellow gym-goers with positive responses. I’ve also reached out to the manager of the ACAC smoothie cafe and would be happy to share my designs with him to see if they could potentially be of use to ACAC.
This product depends upon adding some infrastructure in each ACAC smoothie cafe so that they are equipped to receive, track, and schedule orders electronically. I anticipate that there could be a sister app to the VSC, perhaps the “Smoothie Queue,” which tracks and prompts cafe attendants about all the pre-ordered smoothies in their queue and when to start preparing each one.