I conducted semi-structured interviews with US women aged 18-50 about their online shopping behavior. We decided to scope the problem to this demographic since shopping needs change significantly between cultures and gender. These
interviews were explorative, not prescriptive.Our goal was to uncover pain points in the shopping journey and identify product opportunities.
I began with an observational audit of each woman's shopping flow. I took careful notes of their browsing behavior, and asked them to verbalize their thought process. When appropriate, I asked questions to clarify their attitudes
and motivations. This exercise was a fantastic way to break the ice and lead into our explorative interviews.
Interview Guidelines & Thematic Coding
At the end of each interview, I summarized learnings into codes. After all interviews were completed, I reviewed all codes and revised those that didn’t capture the underlying consumer need.
Our team had assumed that the blocker for online shopping was decision paralysis in the discovery phase. To test this assumption, I asked shoppers to draw a sentiment graph representing their journey to a purchase, marking milestones
in the process, and explaining their choices. To our surprise, users were most frustrated after they received their purchase, because they rarely fit like imagined.
All interviewees did external research before deciding to make a purchase. All of these sources were social; this doesn’t come to much surprise given the global socialization of e-commerce. 87% of consumers begin their shopping
journey with digital. (Salesforce)
Through conversations with extreme users, I discovered private groups where women shared candid photo reviews about online purchases. To join, they needed to be invited by an existing
member with a unique code.
Through interacting with these groups, I observed a contribution economy of women ‘paying forward’ the guidance they received. Our interviews also revealed a growing distrust of sponsored endorsements
on platforms like Instagram and Youtube, but these general users felt they had no other options. This insight ultimately informed our product and community strategy.
Visual Research Aids
After understanding that many women feel insecure about their online purchases, I conducted a follow up interview to understand more about this pain point. One exercise asked them to identify the body shape that they felt resembled
them the most.
I found that women very rarely picked the person who shared the same numeric measurements as them (height, weight, bust size). Instead, women identified with body shapes that they perceived as having the
same insecurities or highlights. Moreover, each woman’s last purchase was driven by this unique way of viewing their bodies.
For example, women that identified as ‘busty’ did not necessarily have large cup sizes. Instead,
they described feeling insecure about their chest or wanting to show off their curves. Another woman, insecure about her shoulders, shared that she buys the same type of top because she didn’t know what other styles would “work”
on her body.