[SEARCH] [FOOD DISCOVERY] Ethical Search: Designing an irresistible journey with a positive impact

Following the first part of the #FoodDiscovery series, which focused on the new role of search technology in food shopping (i.e. the why and the what), this second part will move on into the details of how to design an experience that fulfils those sets of objectives relating to sustainability, well-being, and so on… so that brands in the grocery industry (i.e. supermarkets and consumer packaged good brands in their D2C channels) start building meaningful relationships with their customers based on trust and integrity.

Home to your Happy Store

  • Make online food restocking easy and effortless
  • Help customers to buy more wisely (i.e. save money + greater convience)
  • Help customers to eat well and drive a healthier life
  • Make online food shopping fun and joyful
  • Re-connect customers with the brand


2.1 Trust

  • Efficiency: Operational efficiency: display relevant results
  • Transparency:

(i) Explain why products are displayed the way they are. Netflix effect: “because you watched…”

(ii) Personalised results and recommendations that feel familiar, not creepy

(i) know my name

(ii) know my purchase and search history

(iii) know my tastes and preferences

(iv) know what I want

  • Control: Allow people to configure the above personalisation preferences and feel in control

2.2 Guidance

  • Helpful

(i) Find items quickly and effortlessly

(ii) Search results are relevant at an individual level

(iii) Provide reminders: “Don’t forget” type of help

  • Inspiring:

(i) Suggest new relevant products (less costly and healthier)

(ii) Suggest seasonal products

(iii) Suggest new recipes to drive healthier life


  • Look beyond features: Make shopping entertaining, fun and pleasant.
  • Design online experiences across channels in harmony and coherence to brand values.


How can we design experiences that transform all of the above into magical moments of truth? How might we design experiences that evoke the feelings of trust, guidance and delight?

Once objectives and principles have been clearly articulated following a guideline that’s similar to the above, the next step that we follow at Empathy is wearing the hat of the customer, and drawing the journey, describing every moment of it, mapping actions, emotions and UIs.

At a very high level, a food discovery journey looks something like this:

Food Discovery Journey Design

4. USE CASE DESIGN (samples)

A number of use cases can be designed to deliver the expected outcome: Help users save money and eat well. Lets review a couple of them here:

My Cart:

Provides recommendations to replace a cart item based on different criteria, such as brand affinity and dietary preferences.

Restocking items from My Cart page.


The search-as-you-type “predictive” player provides different types of items: products, recipes and trends for each query.

The results page uses product badges (my favourite, popular, saving $, eat well, etc..) to help people understand what they mean to them.

Sorting criteria also add “My preferences”, beyond sorting by price, newness, abc, and so on. This way all products can be sorted based on each individual’s set preferences (see details on My Preferences Page below).

My Preferences:

This is the personal space used by shoppers to specify their favorite brands and items, dietary preferences, and so on. Every single recommendation must be understood, consented and capable of being modified.

Setting my personal preferences.


Provides a total amount saved together with healthy recipes based on the cart items.

Checkout: Save some bucks before you go and get inspired with new recipes.


As seen in the user mapping journey and sample use cases above, search and contextual recommendations have a precise moment and multiple ways in which to be delivered. The ability to creatively, effectively and seamlessly map those actions to produce the right emotions is critical in the delivery of an irresistible discovery experience.

Design your search and discovery journey the same way you train your shop assistants to reply to your customers. Your brand values and ethics are at stake.

In the third and last part of this #FoodDiscovery series, data and relevancy will be the main ingredients. After covering arts and ethics in this post, science will take over with the aim of delivering superior relevance in all search results and recommendations to each single individual.