Through an extensive user study and product development phase with the user in focus, a modern bag holder design for easier handling, understanding, aesthetics and larger packing space was created and is currently being implemented across stores in the Axfood group.

Read more about the process below.
In collaboration with Cornelia Nilsson
The user study
To investigate the customer's needs regarding self-checkout systems we conducted nine in-depth interviews as well as hidden, open and participatory observations in-store. This was to explore where the customer experienced problems in the purchase flow. The bag holder quickly turned out to be a problem regardless of store as every store uses similar designs with completely straight hanging points (see attached picture with typical problems and old designs of bag holders).

Some citations from user tests
• "The bag holder sucks!"
• "The bag holder does not work for your own [cloth] bags"
• "More than one bag often becomes a problem"
• "I use the bag holder but always have to repack due
to the flow and the small packing area"

Some of the following images and graphics will contain Swedish as they are taken from different parts of the project where they've been used to illustrate various problems or solutions to different stakeholders.​​​​​​​
The out-dated bag holders
Problem 1: The bag holders are not well suited for hanging bags properly in an easy way which makes them prone to falling off and always takes more time and effort from the user to hang and remove. 

Problem 2: The space on the packing area is rarely well suited for packing two bags in an efficient way.

Problem 3: The design is not well-understood by users and lack the possibility to hang cloth bags with long "loops" in an efficient way.

The solution
To alleviate the mentioned problems our design was created with precision, after creating many user-tests of different prototypes, to be user-friendly so that bags are hung faster and easier while they also stay open better during packing while the bag is also secured in a better way(on the old solutions the bag could easily slip off). The shape of the bag holder has a more inviting expression and allows packing with two paper bags in width as well as hanging of your own cloth bags.

The bag holders grocery stores generally use have not been updated for more than 10 years. A lot has happened since then and the fast adoption of self-checkout systems(SCOs) makes it extra important to provide customers with a good bag holder design because that is where the majority of the customers purchases takes place - the actual packing of their groceries.

With our design, the customers understanding of the product is increased and at the same time the average purchase time, and the number of personnel interventions, are reduced. The design is available as a ready-made CAD model and is ready to be manufactured. A prototype has also been tested in store for several weeks and has been appreciated by management as "there are several options to hang different types of reusable bags, and that it takes up the entire [scale] surface for bags, which simplifies for packing various bags."

Read more about each feature on the image below (in Swedish).
Early model rendered with coloured handles to make use easier to understand.
To maintain a low cost of the product ITAB decided that the coloured handles was unnecessary (We believe usability is critical for the widespread success of implementing SCOs. This was also something that participants of our user study said was important as many have tried, failed and never used an SCO-system again since).

These renderings show the updated design with a plastic and cloth bag placed firmly across our unique handles that are based on the actual real-world usage when hanging, packing and removing the bags (in contrast to the current models with square, vertical handles). See the animation below for a more in-depth view on the actual geometrics of the design. ​​​​​​​
On top, a simple design adaptation for better usability and efficiency of COOPs bag holder (see their current version above). Below, the shape and functionality of the design is highly customisable to fit any space and bag need, and can be made in various colors and materials.
By the help of our concept and CAD-models, ITAB(a subcontractor of Willys) created these prototypes which was installed at Willys Johanneberg in Gothenburg. As the images illustrates, the whole packing area can now be used (fitting two paper bags beside each other) while providing easier handling of bags and the possibility to use cloth bags with long loops (which attaches on the sides).
The bag holder design is now being implemented into ITABs lineup of products for self-checkout systems and will be installed across various stores in the Axfood group in 2021.

Please contact me if you are in need of a modern bag holder to increase usability and efficiency in your store, or have any other inquiries about user acceptance of self-checkout systems.
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