The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on small businesses across the UK.

Independent businesses that find it hard to go fully digital are struggling to survive during lockdown restrictions, even though consumers are willing to support them.

My task was to create the concept of a digital service
that will help customers shop from local independent businesses
, safely at home during lockdown restrictions with a tight deadline.


Service design, Product design


JTBD, Benchmarking, Product strategy, Service blueprint, Sitemap, User journeys, Wireframe, Prototype


4 days


ByLocal, a digital service platform where consumers can discover, shop from and connect with local small businesses from all categories whilst safely at home.

Jobs to be done

Struggling small businesses and
online shopping during the pandemic

During the first three months of the pandemic's surge in the US, small businesses revenues were down 40% overall, and 40% of small businesses closed. Many small businesses have found this an opportunity to pivot and go fully digital, given that consumers are spending 76% more on online shopping than the previous year.

A desire to support local businesses

A survey by Nextdoor shows that 72% of members believe they will frequent local businesses more often after the crisis. A clear signal that there is a desire to help struggling local businesses from consumers.

A better future reality

How might we create a digital service platform where consumers can shop from local businesses whilst staying safely at home, and independent businesses could connect and engage with existing customers and attract potential new ones?



Shop is a digital service by Shopify to help users discover small businesses from the neighbourhood as well as across the country. Within the application, users can:

1. discover local independent shops from all categories;
2. search and follow favourite shops across the country;
3. visit businesses' eCommerce site and order directly;
4. contact shops on their social media directly;
5. see new arrivals and trending items from followed shops.


Deliveroo helps to bring local restaurants directly to people's doors during the lockdowns.

1. The design focuses on speed and only has essential functionalities;
2. It puts delivery methods before the images of restaurants;
3. It offers multiple searching methods - dishes, restaurants, cuisines;
4. Users can easily see overall ratings of restaurants, but not detailed ones;
5. Users are encouraged to support restaurants and riders by tipping extra.

Click It Local

Click It Local is a web platform to help users discover and shop from local independent businesses.

1. It supports physical products from local businesses in all categories;
2. Users can search for both products and shops;
3. Users can buy from multiple shops with one payment and one delivery;
3. It offers a zero-emission delivery option to reduce carbon footprints.

Product strategy

Design concept

From the benchmarking, it can be seen that most digital services help users to shop from local small businesses, however, they hardly build engagement and connection between businesses and consumers.

My design concept is, to create a digital service platform to connect local independent businesses with consumers, where users can follow the news and shop from all types of local independent businesses with one payment and one delivery, whilst staying safely at home during the lockdowns.

Experience principles

Service branding

Before any actual design work, I decided to give this service an identity - ByLocal - with marketing campaign strategy.

I also did a case study of Shop Small by American Express, a campaign to support small businesses. They use branded signs, window stickers and an interactive map to help Cardmembers to find participating businesses and receive offers by shopping with Amex cards.

Service blueprint



After having the design strategy, I created this sitemap to build a clear structure of this digital service platform.

From the Home screen, users can follow the news and activities of their following shops. From Search, users can browse and search for shops and products from all categories. The Community feature would show users the feeds from the local community and selected images from the social media hashtag campaign. Users could also manage their orders and see their carbon footprints on the Account screen.

User journeys


Based on sitemap and user journeys, I sketched a few key screens for the initial visualisation of the digital service platform.

Design development

Mobile wireframes

Based on the sketches, I created the digital wireframes with Figma to give a clear and formalised view of the screens.

Mobile mockup

On Home Screen, users can see the new arrivals and social media feeds of their favourite businesses. The Community feature allows users to browse selected images with #ByLocal from social media campaign, which helps to build online communities between local businesses and consumers.

On Search Screen, users can search for shops and products, discover new shops and browse shops and products from all categories.

Shop info including location, shop story and social media accounts are clearly displayed, which helps to build trust and connection between businesses and customers.

Customers can check out by signing, continuing with social media account or continuing as a guest.

Users can select delivery date and choose between one delivery or separated deliveries when they shop from multiple businesses. Tipping options are also available in the payment process to support local businesses.

On the Account screen, users could set up their accounts, manage orders and track their contributions to reducing carbon footprints by shopping locally.

Tablet mockup

Further development

1. Conduct user interviews and surveys to learn more about what drives consumers to support local independent businesses;

2. Analyse social media data to validate the design of the Community feature - is it important for local businesses to have a digital community on social media?;

3. Complete users’ shopping experience - manage orders, view delivery carbon footprints, leave comments, etc.;

4. Future feature - use loyalty points to build better connections with users;

5. Click-collect/ pickup would be available after the ease of current lockdown restrictions;

6. Potential feature - support online service products such as therapy sessions and yoga classes.

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