Designing the Waitrose delivery driver experience to households with pet dogs

Service design case study

Problem: Customers with pets were ineligible for the Waitrose While You’re Away delivery service. We needed to explore if we could deliver to households with dogs.
My Role: Embedded service designer
My approach: 10x dog owner interviews, 3x dog behaviourist co-design workshops, 2x Waitrose driver co-design workshops
Deliverables: Experiment blueprint design to test feasibility of delivering groceries to a household with a pet dog present but without its owner
Users: 10x dog owners, 3x dog behaviourists, 12x Waitrose drivers
Results: Experiment paused 3 weeks before launch due to COVID 🙁


Waitrose While You’re Away is a delivery service that allows a customer to receive their online groceries order to be delivered into their property while their house is empty. It is facilitated by a smart-lock being installed onto the customer’s front door during on-boarding which the driver unlocks using a temporary code sent to them through a dedicated app. The whole delivery is recorded using a chest-mounted video camera and the customer returns home to find their chilled items packed away in the fridge and freezer, and their ambient items left neatly on the worktop. Any pet-owning customer who registered interest but was ineligible for the service.


As the embedded service designer in the Waitrose WYA team I helped them with the following objectives

  • Understand the needs of customers with pet dogs
  • Understand the needs and concerns of Waitrose delivery drivers
  • Explore ways we could deliver to households with pet dogs
  • Understand our level of confidence with any possible solutions

My contribution

I led a discovery and co-design sprint to explore the feasibility of delivering to a household with a pet dog without the owner present.

The dogs discussed in ten dog owner interviews

We interviewed ten dog owners to understand the rules they have in place for their dogs inside and outside the house, the rules for strangers interacting with their dog and we discussed how their dog would react to a Waitrose delivery if the owner wasn’t present.

We learnt that some dogs have a propensity to ‘counter surf’ in the kitchen so leaving the Waitrose food delivery on the kitchen worktop would be unsafe for many dogs. Many of the owners voiced concerns that the drivers wouldn’t know how to act around their dog which may cause them to act up and put the driver in danger. Dog escape was also a concern when the driver was entering and exiting the property during delivery. We also understood how owners gain trust in others looking after their dogs, like dog walkers and doggy daycare.

Top: Driver workshop 1 output (a day in the life map). Bottom: Driver workshop 2 output (storyboard concept testing)

We held two workshops to explore the problem with Waitrose delivery drivers. In the first workshop we produced a ‘day in the life’ experience map which shows everything they do step-by-step from the moment they check-in to work until the moment they sign off. We then stepped through the map and captured pain points around delivering to pet households. Amongst their concerns were dog escape, the risk of being bitten, whether they act authoritative or friendly, and whether the dog can be locked away in a room.

In the second workshop we tested some concept ideas in the form of a storyboard. Each panel was revealed one-by-one and any thoughts and ideas were captured on post-its. We learnt that dog handling training for the drivers and also vetting the dogs in a mock delivery gave them more confidence. They also explained that using baby gates around the front door to avoid dog escapes wouldn’t be feasible for some properties. Some drivers felt dog treats would settle the dogs whilst others felt it’d make them more excited.

Dog behaviourist workshop output

It became clear that we needed to speak to dog behaviourists for a more scientific take on the problem space. We recruited three experienced dog trainers and spent three hours one-on-one with each of them to take them through the problem, the possible ideas and we also sense-checked what we had learnt from dog owners and drivers.

Variations of dog-free zones based on house configuration

The behaviourists helped us explore the idea of a dog-free zone – an airlock that will allow the driver to enter the property safely and without dog escape. We learnt about ‘dog kongs’ which are toys with dog food inside that can pacify a dog and allow the driver to open and close the dog-free zone with some control over the dog. We also learnt that some dogs may exhibit ‘resource guarding’ behaviour if the groceries are left unattended on the floor at any point during the delivery.

Experiment blueprint with hypotheses

Our most significant learning from the behaviourists was about how dogs will take behavioural cues from their owner – if their owner is relaxed they will relax too – and they will then likely learn which scenarios are acceptable. For this reason, we shaped an experiment to test how dogs would react if we delivered groceries to their house twice, the first time with the owner there to set the correct behavioural cues, and the second time with just the driver (and the owner outside with radio contact).

Final thoughts

A few weeks before the launch of this experiment the coronavirus pandemic accelerated and the country went into lockdown. As a result the experiment and the While You’re Away service was paused to allow the Waitrose drivers to help meet the demand of standard home deliveries.

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