Product Considerations for Middle-Eastern Users: No Fixed Location (Part 2 of 2)

This is the second blog sharing learnings from our projects with our Middle-Eastern-based food and beverage client. In our first blog, we shared how we navigated supporting multiple currencies and the process of selecting our third party payment provider. In this blog, we will dig into the delivery workflow and how our audience, and their lack of fixed delivery address, shaped our product strategy.

One of our products was tasked with facilitating a delivery of an online food order. The challenging part was our Middle Eastern users didn’t always have a fixed location or a delivery address. It is a common occurrence that Middle East delivery protocols depend on descriptive addresses, which could include mention of a popular landmark, the general vicinity, or locality. For this reason our product’s order flow kept in mind other types of parameters that could be entered to describe location, and the collection of additional contact info like a mobile phone.

It was crucial that we understood the delivery owners’ point of view and in turn, they understood how to find the delivery info inputted by the customer. In designing the experience, we had to consider touchpoints outside the application itself and how our checkout flow supported those future communications. This resulted in us ensuring an accurate mobile phone number was associated with the account and the order, so if needed the delivery owner could communicate with the customer.

The map as a part of the delivery checkout was also a key element in communicating with the user. Typically in mobile applications, a map is used to communicate delivery status after an order has been placed. In our scenario, we used the map to help plan the delivery in advance and as a way to communicate location. We used the device’s native GPS to help narrow down pin placement to mitigate user errors and speed up the data collection process.

There were a few obstacles handling GPS permissions. Not all users allowed access to device location and there were also location-specific nuances on iOS and Android. To handle numerous use cases, our application forced users to choose their location manually or wait until they granted GPS permission. Once a location was inputted, we also checked if it fell within a deliverable area to mitigate obstacles.

Another benefit of using pin drop locations was the cost savings. When utilizing the Google API, handling addresses incurred a few dollar cost per 1000 requests. At the scale our client was handling traffic, this would add up over time, even if only a subset of users had an address to supply. By using a map and coordinate solution, the delivery location could be defined by the user without an API fee and work across all user preferences.

In doing research into potential tools to support this use case, two caught our eye:

  • What3Words - their technology assigns three words for each 3x3 meters globally to be used.
  • Fetchr - uses GPS technology to support delivery allowing a delivery to hone in based on the recipients personal device location.

We didn’t end up using these services this time, but we have them saved in our toolbox of potential third parties for future efforts.

In Summary

We are consultants because we love jumping into our clients’ world and ramping up on their industry, business, product goals and customers needs. Our repeatable process for validating, designing, and developing the right product is the foundation of our success and a huge aspect of creating the right experience is designing it in a way that serves users’ preferences and lifestyles.

We hope these tips help you create engaging products for your audience and please send us a note if there is a project we can team up on.