Client: Unbridled Apparel - D2C Shopify E-Commerce
User Research, Market Research, Technical Research
I was hired by the marketing department of Unbridled Apparel, a new Shopify fitness apparel brand, to develop and implement a remote research plan and present my findings and recommendations on 2 methods the brand was interested in implementing to increase conversion: a mobile app, and a subscription feature.
Working with a limited budget, I sought to understand technical capabilities, user needs, and competitor trends, and clearly communicate my research insights to stakeholders. In doing so, I helped the Unbridled marketing team decide to make a low-risk investment in a Shopify-compatible mobile app template and subscription app integration.
As a result of my research, I made additional recommendations on UI elements and feature integrations to improve the user experience, including more diverse product photos, a subscription style quiz, and a "try before buying" option, to build trust and confidence with users.
TALKING TO STAKEHOLDERS
TO HELP DEFINE THE INVESTIGATION
To better understand what direction I should take my research, I began this consulting project by having a conversation with stakeholders to learn more about the business and the goals of the marketing team.
As the brand was unfamiliar with the UX process, it was also an opportunity to explain and advocate for how UX research can help businesses mitigate risk and guesswork with new initiatives by better understanding their users' needs.
USERS WHO ENGAGE ON MOBILE WEB
MOBILE WEB CONVERSION
Build a native
Add a clothing subscription feature
Learn about user cart abandonment relative to low conversion rate
This information helped me define 2 primary research goals for my scope of work:
Understand the technical capabilities & constraints of a native app vs. an app template for Shopify
Understand user needs and pain points related to shopping on mobile, subscription services,
and cart abandonment
NATIVE vs. TEMPLATE
communicating technical REALITIES
Because Shopify is a template-based platform designed only for responsive web,
I wanted to give Unbridled stakeholders a realistic look at what building a mobile app for e-commerce involves, not just from a UX design perspective, but also from a software engineering perspective.
In addition to my own research on Shopify development and mobile app templates designed for e-comm, I spoke with 3 software engineers to better understand the hand-off and development process for native mobile apps built for retail & e-commerce.
MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT
Mobile App Template
It is time consuming & expensive to fully replicate Shopify functionality and look on mobile
Payment systems require extensive security and are complicated to build
2-sided merchant platforms (buyer & seller) require separate design & implementation
Templates take less time, cost less money, and can still be tweaked by a developer as needed
Template compatibility utilizes existing Shopify platform and feature integration apps
Many e-commerce templates come with features to help optimize conversion and increase revenue
By understanding the expense, time, and complexities required to design and build a native app compared compared with the ease-of-use, optimized features and minimal investment offered by a template, stakeholders decided they would move forward by testing a mobile app template.
HOW DO USERS SHOP FOR FITNESS APPAREL?
To better understand the goals, needs, pain points and behaviors of users, I created a survey to source 5 qualified interviewees who had both experience shopping for fitness apparel online, and with clothing subscriptions.
I developed a discussion guide based on these topics to use in conducting interviews.
Here are the primary questions I asked:
What device(s) do you use for shopping for fitness apparel? Why?
Can you describe your most recent experience shopping online for fitness apparel?
What do you like about the subscription service you use(d)? What don't you like?What surprised you?
Have you ever added to your shopping cart, but not completed a purchase? Why?
Users prefer desktop for details & completing purchases, although they browse more on mobile
Users are more confident in purchasing if they can "try before they buy"
Users want to see a range of body types, diversity, and movement in photos
Users are skeptical of
how clothes will fit with unfamiliar brands
Users want flexibility and control when signing up for a subscription
In the COVID-economy, users are more conscious of unnecessary spending and impulse buys
To communicate research from interviews to stakeholders, I organized insights by topic and created a Persona to help the Unbridled team empathize with their users' needs when shopping online for fitness apparel.
Understanding the user made it easier for me to choose what features, elements, and heuristics to analyze next in my competitive analysis.
HOW DO OTHER BRANDS OFFER SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES?
With an understanding of users' online shopping and subscription needs from user interviews, I conducted a competitor analysis to analyze how 2 other fitness apparel brands offer subscription services, and a comparator analysis to look at how an e-commerce brand with a different product and audience builds trust & confidence with their users.
Product photos showing a range of body types, diversity, and clothes in motion increase user confidence.
A fabric guide using simple iconography gives users important product details and clearer expectations when buying online.
A how-to video visually communicates the subscription process through video footage that includes animated feature interactions.
An extensive style quiz including sizing, colors, style preferences, brands, average spending, and motivators helps ensure that each subscription is customized to the user's needs, budget, and style.
Users are able to try on frames at home for free, letting them try before they buy, and then make a purchase with confidence.
Reviews are organized by “experience type”, so it’s easier to find specific feedback.
COMPETITORS & COMPARATORS
Standard Features for Subscriptions:
Clear Onboarding - sets an expectation for the user about how the program works
Extensive Style Quiz - taking a deeper dive into user preferences using different types of questions and visuals (multiple choice, A/B choices, A/B/C choices, ranking) helps the user feel confident that the brand will recommend or select clothing they like
Detailed Product Information - also helps the user know what to expect of the products they are buying online
Flexible Terms - gives the user more options and control to manage their subscription
When more resources are available for research, I would like to continue exploring the following:
Organize and conduct usability tests during trial periods of each mobile app template and subscription integration under consideration for use
Consult with stakeholders on the UX design for the mobile app & subscription to ensure optimization for user needs
Conduct additional user interviews and synthesize data again to see what insights & trends appear in comparison to the small sample size of the initial group
Review metrics (conversion rate, cart abandonment, number of clicks) with stakeholders once mobile app and subscription service launch, for a before & after comparison over time