If you're not doing your groceries online, you need to get with the times. Stocking up your fridge and pantry from home is both convenient and cost-effective. (For anyone with rug rats, it's also far less stressful.) The only downside is the user interface, which tends to be buggy, overly complex and boring to boot. Aussie Farmers Direct is looking to buck this trend with its new virtual shopping app. Instead of presenting a list of thumbnail images, the app invites you to browse 3D grocery aisles through your iPad. We put the new service to the test.
AisleOne is the latest online groceries application to hit the Australian market. Enthusiastically billed as a "world-first virtual shopping experience", the app attempts to simulate real-life shopping via an interactive, 3D representation of a grocery store. It's essentially a virtual shopfront that blends e-commerce with traditional retail.
To some, the concept of a virtual grocery store might seem baffling and even counterproductive -- after all, part of the appeal of online shopping is that you don't have to trudge through grocery aisles. However, the expulsion of cluttered online menus definitely has its advantages. In place of text and icons, the visuals take center stage with everything controlled through touch.
A few weeks ago, Aussie Farmers Direct invited us to try out the service to see how it works in practice. After firing up the AisleOne app, we were presented with the familiar sight of a grocery shelf. The 3D representation is pretty impressive, although we suspect you will probably need a tablet to see everything clearly. (The app is currently only available on the Apple iPad, but an Android and iPhone version are coming soon.)
Browsing is made easy thanks to the touch-optimised interface -- you simply swipe your finger to flick between aisles which are categorised by food type, just like a normal grocery store. Clicking on individual products causes them to zoom into the foreground alongside additional information such as price, weight/volume and ingredients. To purchase an item, you drag it into the basket icon at the foot of the screen.
Naturally, you can search for specific items via the usual text inputs or browse categories using the top menu bar, but the emphasis is definitely on 3D exploration. Indeed, the aforementioned tools are tucked away from view.
Here's a look at the app in action:
Like the company's regular web store, food choices are limited to staples sourced from Australian farmers. In other words, you won't find much in the way of soft drinks or preservative-filled snacks, but all the essentials are present and accounted for, along with an assortment of baked treats and deli-style goodies. If you're looking to buy healthier produce, you won't be disappointed by the selection on offer.
Orders are delivered in a jumbo-sized cooler bag which is yours to keep -- the only catch is that you need to leave it outside on your next order so the company can re-use the same bag. Sportingly, Aussie Farmers Direct does not currently charge a delivery fee, although its prices are more expensive across the board compared to equivalent products from Coles or Woolworths. There is also a minimum spend of $25 per order.
All in all, we were pretty impressed with the AisleOne app and delivery service. We think it will particularly suit older shoppers with limited online shopping experience. Unlike most shopping apps, it's almost impossible to get confused. The interface is simplistic and immersive with no superfluous tools or features to get in the way of your shopping.
You can download the AisleOne iPad app from Aussie Farmers Direct's website.