When I was a kid, I had hundreds of hidden picture books. I was part of the generation that was raised on Highlights Magazine, I Spy, and those crazy optical illusion photos where you had to strain your eyes a lot. They all had their merits, but my favorite books from that era were the Where’s Waldo series. The rules are simple: Find Waldo. Once you find Waldo, you win! But the books didn’t make it easy; they’d throw in a whole bunch of distractions and tricks to make it more difficult for you to find Waldo.
Where’s Waldo is a really fun game to play, but when you want to buy something quickly, this isn’t what you want to see:
You want your results fast, to cut through the noise, and find the exact thing that
fits your needs. During my research of Bajaj EMI store, this theme kept emerging.
Having noticed an inclination towards EMIs as one of the primary payment choices, Bajaj wanted to re-design their existing ecommerce web and mobile site which lets customers purchase electronic products at quicker EMI approvals. By adopting a hyper-local business model, the platform enables customers to view products from retailers located in their vicinity, tapping into their network of 43,000+ merchants across India.
The Bajaj EMI Store is the first of its kind and has never been done before. They approached Fractal Ink with the challenge of re-building the entire ecosystem for the EMI store.
1. Design a tool that enables e-commerce for other local companies.
2. To communicate the feel of hyperlocal concept.
3. Highlight the USP of “No cost EMI”.
4. EMI card proposition should be an identifiable online process.
5. Enable users to explore and discover products efficiently.
6. Reduce dropoffs by providing easy and customisable buying options.
The EMI store team comprised of a project manager, 2 UX Designers and 2 UI Designer. I was responsible for the initial user research, heuristic evaluation of existing product, entire UX executions and laying out compelling visual designs.
Being a pioneer comes with its own set of challenges. Since it is the first of its kind, planning the journeys from on-boarding to making of payment was quite the task. With no references from competitors, this project required us to conduct comprehensive research to understand the usability and perception in the user’s mind. And all of this had to be done in 4 weeks.
This project was approached in two phases. The first phase focused on understanding the existing problems & opportunities, narrowing down the capabilities and set goals of the website to define its exact purpose. The second phase focused on the overall approach of the website to ensure the creation and execution of impactful user journeys.
UNDERSTANDING THE AUDIENCE
HEURISTIC EVALUATION SUMMARY
High level browsing and discoverability
*Upon entry the website looks more like a product listing page rather than a brand page talking about it’s USPs & unique propositions
* Lack of understanding and confusion exists due to improper hierarchy
* The main navigation is not visible
* The deals are visible but the website lacks in self- explanation
* Discoverability is not seamless and user might get confused
* Journey gets more confusing when user dives deep into the tasks
* The digital trends for increase in conversion have been through intelligent system recommendation and system’s learnability about
the user behaviour which seems shallow
* Layout grids are completely off which leads to bad experience
* Inconsistent CTAs can lead to confusion
* Bad alignment might lead to confusion and can make it visually look unfinished, amateurish and not very appealing
Aid to decision making
* Seamless and accurate comparison journey can be implemented
* Testimonials and ratings to be visually appealing
* What are the key differentiators which will allow the user to choose Bajaj and not any other place
* Contact with the local sellers they are already aware of
Call to Actions
* The CTA styles are not only varied in the way they look but also vary vastly in the way they appear on the layout.
* CTAs are the one most important part of user journey which ensures the flow of user journey as imagined.
* The way CTAs communicate is very important in the journey. At some places the CTAs seem selected even though they aren’t, making it look inactive
* A consistent style guide to deliver primary, secondary and tertiary CTAs are an easy solution to implement
In addition to above data, we needed a peek into how users purchased large appliances. Offline stores were direct competitors in the Large Appliances category. Our counterparts from the business teams got us permission to visit a few stores of a big Pune based large appliances chain.
At the stores, we were in observation mode all the time. The salesman told us that the rush started on Friday afternoon all the way to Sunday night. Here are some wonderful insights from the research.
Multiple Opinions before a Decision – Customers usually don’t visit the store alone. Buying large appliances is usually not a one person decision.
Customers need help with choices – The salesman first asks about the appliance they are looking for. Some customers know exactly
what they want. Some just say that they’re there to buy a TV. And based on the answer, the salesman follows up questions about favorite brands and the size of the TV the customer is looking for.
Selling Price and Brand matter a lot – The brand and price of the products are displayed in big font in the shop. If the salesman shows
any products way out of the customer’s budget, the customer calls it out immediately.
Warranty and Originality important – If the customer mentions online options, the salesman usually warns them about fakes and
problems in brand warranty and support. Trust is a major driver to be skeptical about e-commerce.
Offers attract attention – Salesmen use limited-time offers, service/repair vouchers, and freebies to close the sale
So, why are customers buying large appliances online rather than offline?
The online user is in control of her decisions much more than an offline user whose decisions are partially influenced by the
accompanying people or the salesperson.
Much bigger selection – There are more products online, for the user to choose from, and to make choices, than a retail store which
has space constraints.
Good product deals – With several sellers in a similar sector showcasing their products online, the user gets a better deal with the
online purchase than an offline sale.
JOURNEY ANALYSIS (GOOGLE ANALYTICS)
Homepage - Search
Mobiles, tablets & smartphones
IDEATION AND DEEPER ANALYSIS
Next step in the process was to set the right experience by mapping user intents, task flows, different entries into the website, setting
intuitive navigation and content strategy/hierarchy for each layer of the product. We occupied the biggest conference room in the
studio and immersed ourselves in a focused environment for some intense brainstorming sessions for 10 days straight. Below are
the few snapshots from the sessions.
We drank approximately 297 cups of coffee, blinked 89,980 times and missed 27 social gatherings to stick to the timeline
E-COMMERCE EXPERIENCE SALES FUNNEL
1. There are three main components in the interface – Audio waveform, Video player anAfter having a clear understanding about the product flow, target audience and user behaviour We started focusing on the
narratives of the users.
E-commerce websites actually lend themselves to a funnel as the steps a user must go through are pretty fixed. As a result this
is a structure the vast majority of ecommerce websites use (whether they know it or not).
Here’s my simple funnel expression of how ecommerce websites are constructed and the requirements at each step so users
will convert.d Subtitle columns(source and target).
The landing pages are the equivalent of the shop window in a physical store and the job here is to show users what the site offers and
encourage them to ‘enter the store’. It should also explain how it differs from other sites out there. Most users will arrive here.
This is similar to the inside layout of the store and the job here is to help users compare different options to find something they want
to buy, often by splitting products up into categories. You might need filters to help them do this.
The product pages do the job of a product’s packaging in a real-life store. It needs to show off the thing despite you not being able to
see it. It also must convey all the details and information a user needs to know to be confident in making a purchase.
This is where the user comes to purchase and often organise delivery (often this step will begin with a basket). It’s a somewhat
standardized process so there are conventions to learn but also things you can do to make it quick and convenient to pay.
Brining in the UX Perspective, we very well knew that selling the goods once is the minimal program of actions. What stakeholders of the business were aiming at is having this user buying via EMI store again and again. User retention is the direct condition of growing profits. And this aspect makes e-commerce sphere highly attractive to me.
The objective which should be achieved is simple: people have to reach the e-commerce platform and buy items offered on it and the following four key aspects of UX are quite clear:
* Utility lies in the nature of the product: it helps users to choose and buy things they need easily and efficiently.
* Usability has to make the customer journey is clear and easy, without unnecessary clicks, time lost on loading overloaded pages or
inconvenient menu, frustration of not getting feedback from the system etc.
* Accessibility has to bring up design which can be used by different categories of users, for e.g. people with low level of tech literacy.
* Desirability means that the app will get the look & feel which will make the experience enjoyable & users will wish to get back again.
Facing serious time constraints, we made paper sketches of the screens to get quick approvals and directly moved on to UI Designs. Below are some examples of the same.
SETTING UX/UI PILLARS
Keeping all the above data in mind, we started designing different components that will aid in decision making.
BUILDING A RESPONSIVE WEBSITE
My Team and I believed that a mobile first approach can go a long way. Whether it’s a website, mobile site, or app, we design it to be responsive. We also focused on designing the product to be dynamic and relevant to the right audience. We constructed a flow that is in line with the users thought process, thereby leading it to conversion. The best part is that when users get their purchase financed
by the platform, they get benefit of no documentation, instant approval, instant delivery and pre-approved offers.
Breaking down user preference and introducing hyperlocal model
The website was programmed to understand the location of the user to automatically adjust to their pin-code, bringing up the best offers to them based on their location. We also wanted to take the users priorities and bring them upfront in our design. We brought out four main choice factors on the home page so that the users can find what they need based on their priorities.
Images aren’t very important in this category, so we defined its dimensions to accommodate the tall products (like refrigerators) and wide products (like TVs). A lot of brands make useful launch videos for their products. Hence, we kept thumbnails for better discovery of these videos. (Later, we also found out that users who watched these videos were more likely to buy).
After the product name, we mention its rating based on the score given by the buyers of this product. Ratings and reviews majorly
influence the buying decision.
Price has always been a decision maker for EMI store users – so although we show it in the browse page, we designed the page in a way it comes in the first fold itself. Customers look for bargains, bank offers, freebies even in the brick and mortar stores for such high-value items. Offers take the highest priority.
Usage of dynamic payment – We added a dynamic down payment option at the end of the journey so that the user could purchase multiple products and make alternative payments in cash or cards at the time of the delivery. This helped reduce drop-offs at the time of payment
Key Call-outs – From the research, we had identified the decision makers for this category. Hence, we wanted to have these key callouts — Delivery, Affordability, and Exchange right up there. We muted these slightly on the display page, but they still stood out from the rest of the content. We also added information icon for utmost clarity.
DIFFERENT CATEGORIES, DIFFERENT LAYOUTS
We ensured that every product category had a different layout so that there is a subconscious connection made by the users and a learning pattern is created through the journeys.
Little big details
We designed a top navigational bar with a categorized mega menu with product specific guide/advisory options like budget brackets, family size for larger appliances and promotional banners for filtered search. The product listing page was the second layer of the funner where we maintained product specific filter options, available EMI option on each product tile, MRP struck through with the percentage offer, key specs in some cases, delivery propositions and more offers for faster decision making.
Delivering rich visual experience
I strongly believe that while catering to the needs of the user is very important, creating a visual experience is highly essential to build a high recognition and recall for any online platform so that the brand can stand out through their well defined identity. There is a misconception that brand guidelines act as an obstruction to design when in reality, the concept of design is too broad to be
constrained by a few limitations. We took the brand guidelines and used it in the best possible manner to create designs and interactions that engage with the users.
People found their products!
What I learned…
– Working in extremely tight schedule and immersing myself into finding the right solution.
– Use offline solutions to improve online experience. When ideating, it is important to think about different touchpoints.
– Becoming lean. The goal is to increase collaboration, improve team communication and reduce waste.
– Backing my designs with logic and data.
– Putting my foot down and not accept unreasonable client feedback.
– Some testing is always better than no testing.