ProjectBox

ProjectBox brings together everything you need to complete a DIY task into one carefully curated package; tools, consumables and instructions. Helping Europe’s largest DIY retailer transition to a circular economy model by making hiring more desirable than buying.

DIY purchases are often very price driven. Projects can require a lot of new tools which can push consumers to the lower end of the market, where tools compete on price rather than quality. This can lead to a poor DIY experience. Once complete the tools are stored until they are needed again, which could be years in the future.

This isn’t a sustainable model in the long term. Can we move the DIY market away from this linear approach to the circular economy?

In principle the answer is simple, let's hire rather than buy. Hiring is great for consumers as it means they can afford to use professional grade tools. It’s more profitable for retailers as they can make repeated revenue from hiring the same tools and it has a lower environmental footprint by displacing the sales of cheaper tools. But the reality is more complex, B&Q had tried direct hiring and it had been unsuccessful. There were various reasons for this but at its core the idea of simply hiring individual tools didn’t work for the DIY market, the additional complexity of hiring outweighed the potential benefits. For hiring to be successful it needed to be of much more benefit to the consumer.

ProjectBox took the idea of selling outcomes (consumers want a hole in their wall, not a drill) and scaled it up to entire DIY tasks such as tiling, laying flooring and building decking.

If you want to tile a room you hire a ProjectBox and get all the tools, materials and tailored instructions to complete the job. When you’re finished, the box is collected along with any project waste and unused materials.

Ultimatelty we need to make hiring more desirable than buying. To do this we needed to create a better DIY experience, making it easier and less risky for the consumer. We knew the biggest barriers to tackling DIY were a lack of experience and a lack of confidence, so the design process focused on how we could accelerate the learning curve and de-risk DIY.

To do this we focused solely on tiling and immersed ourselves in the process. We organised tiling sessions to watch how people with no experience approached the problem; how they used the tools, what they were comfortable doing. In contrast we shadowed professional tilers to see what their techniques were; how they achieved the perfect finish, what their shortcuts were and what tools they used.

We also spent a lot of time looking at existing instructions and how people use them. YouTube is now the goto instructional resource, but the quality of the information is very varied and rarely matches the tools you are using. Tablets and phones don’t mix well with tile adhesive either so there is often a transcribing process.

All this resulted in an in depth user experience map for tiling; identifying problem areas, opportunities and design challenges. This allowed us to design the ordering process, the hardware and the instructions with an absolute focus on making the process of tiling as smooth as possible.

We can't share the details of the service yet as it is still under development, but the principles are what's important. This project took an industry where price competition and material throughput rule the roost and created a service that made access and experience more desirable than owning products. This is very promising ground for the circular economy; great user experiences displacing linear sales models.