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How might we Reimagine

the Local Distribution

Experience for Fresh Harvest

Tackling the local food distribution obstacle


The Challenge:

Fresh Harvest company was losing around $20,000 dollars worth of reusable delivery bins. They go out, but sadly, many of them don’t ever make it back.

The Impact:

“The Bin” has become a staple member of Fresh Harvest team and now monitored and tracked using digital tracking methods.Identified design opportunities in shifting Fresh Harvest’s distribution to enable better engagement between the brand and the consumer.

Skills :

  • Design Thinking Facilitation

  • User Interview/Research

  • Journey Mapping

  • Rapid Prototyping


My Role

I was the design project lead of the OpenIDEO Atlanta chapter formed by 2 design professionals and 1 business strategist. My duties were to map out the process ,define the research parameters, and create necessary tools for the different phases of the project. I organized and conducted the user interviews where I gathered and synthesized the data to discover new insights and opportunity areas. Together with the team ,I prepared community workshops and final presentation for the client.


The Overview

As Atlanta’s food distribution does not provide for the entire community, Fresh Harvest provided a healthy and locally sourced food service to tackle the food deserts of the city.

Fresh Harvest, a startup with its mission to support Georgia farmers when purchasing your weekly groceries and eliminate the gap between food desserts and local farmers, has provided locally sourced groceries for thousands of residents in the Atlanta area. Yet its service relies on a small team of distributors and a single warehouse to process all of the requests. The last mile of Fresh Harvest’s delivery bins created a challenge because of the highly spread out nature of their customer and the lack of monitoring of the bins.

Together with the OpenIDEO Atlanta Chapter ,Fresh Harvest aimed to uncover new ways to engage with their customers and distributors to implement design strategies for its diverse consumers ,further establishing local relevance as well as the potential to scale the service nationwide.

Users of the service were invited to brainstorm with the Fresh Harvest staff and our designers.

Users of the service were invited to brainstorm with the Fresh Harvest staff and our designers.

Understanding the Big Picture

To tackle the problem holistically, the team gathered users of the service as well as volunteer designers from the Atlanta community to better understand the problem.

We initiated the process by setting up interviews with 100+ users, designers, industry professionals, and the staff of Fresh Harvest. This allowed us to gather a wide and large amount of data regarding the entire journey of the distribution process.

I am ashamed to say this ,but I actually have five boxes at home that I forgot to return
— ZAC HARRISON, Co-Founder of Fresh Harvest

Let’s Reimagine the Question

Through user interviews we determined two potential opportunity area:

  • The bin tracking process was done by hand and tracked using a paper sheet attached to the bin requiring consistent bookkeeping from the distributor.

  • The bins were not considered valuable by the consumers and were treated as disposable which would encourage further devaluing of the asset.

Deriving Insights

This pointed us towards a realization that current customers do not affiliate the Fresh Harvest’s services and story with their distribution system leading to undervaluing the bins.

Reframing the Problem

The current consumer culture of package delivery promotes waste of the packaging or repurposing the bins .Our focus was on influencing the consumer culture to increase active participation between Fresh Harvest distribution system and their customers.

Our strategy was to design an interactive experience that would engage customers to actively return bins while allowing the distribution team to have an accurate and real-time record of the location of the bins.

The co-founder of Fresh Harvest introduced different Journey Maps.

The co-founder of Fresh Harvest introduced different Journey Maps.

The Fresh Harvest staff and community designers pitch new circular design approaches.

The Fresh Harvest staff and community designers pitch new circular design approaches.

Concept Development

Digitizing the Physical Process

We proposed the bins adopt the rewards programs commonly found at your local coffee shop where the bins are scanned and kept on record using a mobile app.This would provide a database of bins and their last known whereabouts so that Fresh Harvest could remind their customers in a friendly and encouraging approach.

It’s not just a bin

The bin became the physical ambassador of Fresh Harvest which provided consistent opportunities to reach out to their customer in a personal and refreshing way. The bins were made to be valued and interactive by allowing customers support local charities and non profit organizations by filling the bins with resources when collected by Fresh Harvest.


“The Bin” is the final product of phase 1 of the new product deployment.

Prototype the Experience

With our new concepts, we combined the two ideas into one circular journey map where we travelled from the distributor ,the customer ,and back to the distributor.

We launched phase 1 of the rebranding of the bins and are following up on completing a scalable database native to both IOS and Android mobile apps. You can learn more about the final product here


Lessons Learnt


This was a long project with great lessons learnt in every stage of the process.

One of the most important lessons was that the alignment between the customers and the employees of the company is vital to ensure a common vision.  

Additionally, by organizing open in person dialogue between the client and their users allowed for great observations and insights that would have been difficult to obtain otherwise. This process humanized the client while also delivering value to their users that they wouldn’t have received otherwise.