Encouraging Easy and Seamless Social Shopping

Here's how I helped a startup reimagine social e-commerce via trust and transparency.

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Setting the stage

Social media is becoming an essential channel for retailers to reach consumers, playing a significant role in commerce discovery and sales. Social media companies are beginning to build commerce features into their platforms.

62% of retailers already using social commerce said that it improved communication with customers.
92% said that their preferred platform for social commerce was Instagram.
Stackla's 2019 report on social commerce


Small scale retailers majorly dealing in beauty, and fashion have now built their business around this booming model termed - Social Shopping.

Before shopping online via social media, shoppers often ended up in indecisive conversations with themselves, i.e. 'can I trust this stranger,' 'how do I negotiate,' or 'what if I want to return, trust is a massive factor for shoppers and with Price Secrecy; you'd have a recipe for customer drop-off; Here's our initial "How Might We" (HMW) problem statement

HMW encourage easy and seamless social shopping, eliminate the culture of price secrecy, and create an e-commerce ecosystem that thrives on trust and loyalty?

Business Goals and Opportunity for impact

-   Create an innovative merge of eCommerce and social media experience for multiple user profiles.

-   Enable the user to connect with buyers or sellers.

-   Create a trustworthy and reliable interface where users feel safe to buy and sell.

-   The application must be implementable in iOS and Android.

-   Use the MLP to raise funds for further development of Kwikclick.

There Must Be Something Out There

Some reasons we heard on why sellers practice price secrecy ;

-   It hides product information from competitors;

-   It filters prospects from the curious to the serious;

-   It’s a marketing strategy that promotes exclusivity;

-   It allows for personal engagement with the prospective customer;

-   It prevents disparaging comments from social media trolls or those who aren’t their target market;

-   Some products, such as cakes and art, are custom-made so they require custom prices.

Designing for Humans not Users

Based on the responses received, I formulated questions for an online survey that was answered by 32 people (about 75% shoppers, 25% sellers) within two days. The survey helped us understand what some of the people problem was and how we can meet people at their human needs. Here are some of the response;

Knee Deep in Ideation

The first two concepts primarily address the need of shoppers distilling trust, transparency and ease of shopping. In comparison, the last two concepts target seller fear of buyers remorse, and customer loyalty.

Discover -  Where shoppers can easily access products that their friends have put up for sale, and other trending products

- Product Page - We designed the product page to focus on helping the shopper make easier decisions, by highlighting reviews, ratings, and buying options.

- Shop Profile & Messaging - Building on the presence of social media, we designed the shop profile page, to show the products of the seller, and highlight product interaction, and a quick message option.

- Checkout & Shipping - We solved price transparency by taking charge of the seller's payment process and designing a more natural checkout flow for the shopper. We plan to integrate with a logistics agency to provide more top-notch shipping/delivery.

Validating Product Ideas with User Testing

I led a few moderated usability tests focusing on the shopper persona. We tried to find out;

a.  How the shoppers felt about social shopping now, with regards to confidence and trust

b.  If the product page solved the issues around price transparency

c.  If the clear shipping & checkout process solved the problem of poor logistics

d.  If the shop profile instilled more trust and loyalty to the products sold by the sellers

After analyzing the behavioral response from the tests, we realized that;

We failed to solve the shopper’s problem.

From the feedback we got speaking to shoppers, we quickly learned that;

1.  The cards on the discover page were confusing because of the fancy grid, too tight, and less informative.

2.  Shoppers ranked ratings as one of the top things to see on a product even higher than the price

3.  We had taken too much inspiration for already existing shopping platforms and were forgetting about the social aspect

4.  Shoppers felt more relieved when they got confirmation directly from the sellers on the quality of the products

5.  We need a real wow factor

Back to the (virtual) whiteboard

- HMW make the product cards more informative and efficiently solve for product transparency without cluttering the discover feed.

- HMW distill more trust in the quality of the products from the sellers and help the shoppers reduce buyer's remorse.

- HMW use gamification or whimsical fun experiences to create a wow factor that other e-commerce platforms don't have.

Design Iteration

We tested a few iterations for the product card preview, our goal was to aid the shopper in making quick informed decision on a product, encourage transperency and make the feed more visually appealing.

From the team feedback I realized that the card was getting too long and was taking too much real estate, I moved the "Add To Bag" functionality to trigger a popup as shown.

Introducing a stories feature, allowing sellers to take videos of their products either on a model, or showing all corners in motion, and general to show proof of product quality.

We also added a quick add to bag on each item that was showcased.

In introducing a "wow factor" I pitched the "Shop" tab  - a quick and hassle-free way to make swift window shopping decisions, using the very familiar gamified and whimsical dating swipe interaction.

Validating New Ideas with User Testing (again🤦🏾‍♂️😃)

We were able to get 3 out of the 8 initial testers to come back for the second round of moderated testing, while we sent the rest unmoderated testing using Maze. Here are some of the impact our results showed;

We project an increase in user retention from the gamification of the shop tab, a fun way for people to stay in the app window shopping.
Adding new features likes Story Highlights and redesigning the card to show latest comments improved shoppers trust and encouraged transparency.

Key Learnings

- Testing my ideas as a way to not only validate decisions but also to get constant feedback (testing with colleagues) and also to confirm that my stakeholders are buying into the product I'm designing.

- In creating the minimum lovable product, we focused on the shopper persona first and put a pause on the seller flow; this helped us to break down high level problems into smaller chunks and also to spend enough time obsessing about the problem and not the product. 

- Storytelling is an essential tool when crafting experiences. It allows you to connect with your audience and, in turn, it will enable them to connect with your brand story.