eCommerce for Gordon Food Service Stores

UX Research | Product Strategy | Product Design


Gordon Food Service (GFS) is the largest family-owned and operated B2B food distribution company in North America. Founded in 1897, they currently operate across 50% of the United States and most of Canada. GFS works with independent restaurants operators, healthcare and education institutions, all the way up to major restaurant chains and many more.

GFS offers a few different service options. Customers with high volume ordering needs can receive truck delivery from a distribution center, and additionally drop ship delivery for more "speciality items." These are known as Distribution customers. Customers with smaller volume needs can order online for In-Store Pickup or visit one of the GFS Stores to shop in person. These are known as Wholesale or Store customers. This is separate line of business from the distribution side.

Project Goals and Challenges

The Store team does not have regular UX support. My role was to consult and provide temporary UX support for the ROPUS initiative (Reserve Online Pick Up in Store). Over the course of six weeks, I would take this work from discovery all the way to execution. I had three areas of focus with this group. Employee login, customer purchase path, and concepting a new product detail page.

Major Challenge: Time. I only had six weeks while still serving as the lead UX Designer for our US distribution eCommerce platform, and website. Also, this would be the first time the Store Marketing Technology team would work with a designer and a design process.

This slide was part of a deck I created outlining the dual design and development cadence for the Marketing Technology team I worked with.

Approach to Understand

Keep in mind. I had a six week window, so it was important for me to prioritize my time. When it came to research, I approached this in a few different ways. For the GFS website, I did a usability audit and leveraged existing knowledge about our wholesale customers. To learn more about their needs for a product detail page, I conducted guerilla research by going to GFS store and speaking with customers as they shopped.

Competitive analysis was conducted for the product detail page focus, evaluating both direct and indirect markets.

Employee login concept, leveraging existing login page design from our digital design ecosystem.

A homepage concept with annotations outlining a potential navigation, best practice and recommendations.

Customers prioritized:

- Allergen info (3)
- Nutrition info, health conscious info, ingredients (3)
- Price (2)
- Serving size, Expiration, Good Images, Size Specs, Brand, Better Product Descriptions


There’s a saying that, “just because someone makes it, doesn’t mean you should buy it.” Sometimes that applies to a digital initiative as well. In the end, the stakeholders for this project were heavily receptive to all the work completed; an unforeseen result though, was that my conceptual work revealed technology gaps, data limitations, and infrastructure issues. Generally speaking, this prevented the team from developing most of what I had pitched aside from the registration and login experiences. Unfortunately, yes. But also, it was a privilege to be able to support a team from a UX/product standpoint that normally would not have had access to our expertise.

My Role

I served on this project as the lead (and sole) Product Designer for the web product.

For this, I completed the following:

  • Conducted guerilla research
  • Performed a competitive analysis
  • Created user mapping
  • Designed new and/or updated conceptual UI experiences
  • Facilitated stakeholder alignment sessions and routine design reviews