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Woolworths Innovation Lab | Thoughtworks

How an experimental in-store innovation lab led to a truly illuminated solution

Woolworths is Australia’s largest supermarket chain and is Australia’s Fresh Food People. Employing more than 114,000 people, they provide their customers with superior service, range, value and convenience.

Seeing an opportunity to better serve their customers in their small format stores, they wanted to find a way to test and validate their ideas before making a big investment. Partnering with Thoughtworks, they set up an in-store innovation lab.

This new way of working involved rapid prototyping techniques that helped bring a new concept to life in a short time frame - enabling Woolworths to trial new ideas with their customers, all the while seeking real time feedback. 

In-store customer testing helped give insight into shoppers purchasing behavior in the small format stores, which is quite different to the behavior of those shopping in standard supermarkets. Discovering that queues and payments were not an issue in this store, the team decided to pivot. 

Organic roasted chicken is a big seller for the small concept store; so the team identified an opportunity to inspire customers with meal ideas that would complement the ready to go food items. The winning concept was an in-shop meal planner. The working prototype featured recipes on an iPad. Once a customer chose a recipe, the ingredients needed for the selected meal would be clearly illuminated by in-shelf LED lighting. Placing all the ingredients on one shelf helped customers reduce shopping time significantly. 

There’s no chance this could have come together without Thoughtworks. We didn’t end up where we suspected when we started. Within 5 days we completed a working prototype of a new service offering that help us delight our customers.
Lee Venaruzzo
Agile Transformation Lead, Woolworths

The innovation lab helped Woolworths validate a new service offering that customers would use. In addition to achieving something great for customers, Woolworths embraced a new approach to innovation that would help them repeatedly and cheaply bring new concepts to market - exceeding their customers' expectations at the same time.

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