Brining the café experience to the grocery aisle


At Digital Aisle, a former interactive shopper marketing firm, I served as lead UX designer on our Starbucks account.

Digital Aisle was a digital agency specializing in shopper marketing kiosks and apps.

Starbucks hired Digital Aisle to design an in-aisle, interactive kiosk as part of their efforts to reinvent the supermarket coffee section. Despite its iconic brand and ubiquitous “third place” cafés, shoppers were choosing competitors' bagged coffee at their local supermarket.

As part of a larger aisle reinvention with ChaseDesign, Digital Aisle was tasked with creating a large-format touchscreen kiosk to help bring the personalization and style of the beloved café experience to the grocery aisle.


I began the project with a shopper marketing-oriented approach. I analyzed grocery industry data and Starbucks’ wealth of sales and shopper insights to identify major objectives and opportunities for Starbucks and their supermarket partners.

Shoppers were spending a lot of time in the coffee aisle, but often left empty-handed.

Next, I identified shopper and consumer needs. Working in tandem with Digital Aisle’s Shopper Loyalty Director, I conducted a user interviews to gain a qualitative understanding of the coffee shopping experience. I also conducted field observations in over a dozen grocery stores in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Washington state.

Based on my user interviews and Starbucks’ insights, I developed user personas to guide the app design process.
Persona type: Other premium coffee buyer
“I love trying new coffees and consider myself an aficionado. I go to Starbucks cafés, but rarely buy their bagged coffee.”
- Kimberly, 32

The project required balancing the needs of three stakeholders—Starbucks, their supermarket partners and shoppers. I synthesized the different goals, gathered and prioritized product requirements and determined the app's information architecture.

To meet our supermarket partners' deadlines, I rapidly produced wireframes and developed a prototype of the app for user testing in less than six weeks. We then partnered with Ignite360 to conduct one-on-one usability tests. I observed the users’ prototype interactions via live video and worked with the Starbucks team to make refinements based on our user feedback.


The kiosk app was initially launched as a pilot in 25 stores. The initiative received significant press coverage and shopper feedback was very positive—they loved finding coffee that matched their taste preferences and discovering food items that paired with their favorite coffee.

Due to the success of the program the pilot was expanded to over 100 stores across the country.