Product Design, UX Design, Research
How can we help retail buyers make more strategic buying decisions?
This is a current project and serves as a capstone to my Master's in Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. My team and are designing a solution for a venture capital firm that will help retail buyers make more strategic buying decisions.
We spoke to buyers, planners, category managers, and many others to establish our understanding of what a buyer's job really entails. We found that it's a complicated process that requires the ability to cycle between art and science. Many decisions are made to ensure a buy is successful, and not just when the purchase order is written. Buyers need to look at the data and see the story within. They spend a lot of time planning their assortments, but are also reacting while the product is in store to get the most out of the buy. Ultimately, a buyer reflects on buys in hindsight and apply what they learn to future buys.
Throughout our research, we took the time to listen to the buyers and hear what kept them from being as successful as they wanted to be. This picture is a small piece of our affinity diagram that was completed later that day. We took all of our notes and we able to pull out the patterns from what we heard from the people we spoke to.
Once we identified the critical painpoints a buyer experiences throughout the buying process, we began ideating on potential design ideas relative to a product or service that could alleviate these painpoints.
Taking personas and creating scenarios around such personas was a natural next step in this process. A positive outcome from this is ruling out some ideas and iterating on others to find a path to prototyping.
We decided to pursue a product that would allow a buyer to see their assortment of products visually. We created a number of paper prototypes and engaged buyers to get feedback on how these might fit into their process. This specific paper prototype was a dashboard that provided the buyer with the top performing product attributes for that season's assortment.
We continually iterated on the idea of a buyer looking at their assortment visually. I helped code this mid-fi prototype. This product would allow the buyer to filter and sort their assortment, see crucial metrics such as margins and units sold, all while still getting the visual of the product. We will be user testing with this prototype in the next week, and will then continue to iterate.