Never Forget: UX and The Internal Customer

05/09/2014

Craftsy’s ecommerce store started out selling flash deals on yarn and fabric. Within a year, that evolved into a full fledged ecommerce experience built off the original flash deal code for merchandising and creating items on the site. Along with the evolution of the customer facing storefront, the admin area for entering products had evolved along with it. Most of the admin changes had happened without much help from the UX team, as we were still small and focused on our external customers experience.  

Late last year, I was part of a team that helped bring project kits to life on Craftsy. This project allowed me a quick glance at the process our ecomm team went through to input merchandise for sale on our website. It was a complete mess. I tried to merchandise a product myself and was left confused with nothing more than a link to a 4 page instruction document to show for my efforts.

Fast forward to the first quarter of 2014. I’m now part of our Internal Tools team and my main mission is simplifying the process of creating an ecommerce item (a product for sale, or PFS in Craftsy lingo). I knew going in how big of task this was going to be after my minor exposure to the process in the prior months. During the discovery phase I used Silverback to record the user entering a product for sale and I learned some very interesting items including:

  • The average time to enter a product into the database was 20 minutes.

  • The process took 30+ different steps across 4 different urls.

  • There were multiple times the user had to copy and paste product IDs from screen to screen.

  • The user uploaded the same images multiple times for different size options of the same product.

  • The user duplicated content that had already been entered into the product details from the fulfillment center.

After watching the recording a few times to really familiarize myself with the steps within the process, I decided to split the input process into three major steps.

  1. Details

  2. Promotions

  3. Presentation

The details section handles main product details, promotions handles pricing and presentation handles the display, aka where on the site the product would live. Splitting the process into these groups streamlines the process for the user into manageable sections, saving trips to the 4 different URLs.  It removed manual actions like copying and pasting of IDs between pages as we now persist key information behind the scene during the process.

Admin-details

 We also had a major issue with images where they were being added multiple times. To start, we implemented a standardized naming convention for our photographer to follow when creating and uploading the product assets to our Amazon S3 server. Next, we tied these images to a product ID in our fulfillment software.  This allowed us to pre-populated the images on the details page once the product was selected, without the user even noticing. This was a huge win for the user since it greatly decreased their time spent uploading photos.

Admin-images

Lastly, we wanted to simplify the process for data input. We now pre-populate as much data from the fulfillment software as we have available. There are still times when the user needs to make changes, but this significantly shortens the time as text changes are now minor. Pre-populating also helps cuts down on typing errors, removing another item from the list of things the user inputting the product needs to worry about. At this stage, we also added a “draft” functionality which allows a user to save at any point and continue later on in the future.

Admin-promotions

The project really opened my eyes about our internal customers and how flexible they had been through a poor experience to their admin process for so long. A few minor, but thoughtful, changes to their user experience, made a huge impact for our ecommerce team. The time to add  a product for sale was reduced by greater than 50%, from 20 minutes to around 9 minutes. There is more we can do to cut that number of minutes down from 9 in the future. We’ve made big strides and it is great to feel a sense of pride in helping out your fellow team members to be able to do their job faster and with less errors.

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