Though beauty chain Sephora is widely viewed as a disruptor when it comes to digital retailing, one place where they lagged behind other eCommerce sites was in the poorly designed, badly architected and overall confusing checkout flow. I lead the UX design team’s efforts to research user pain points, understand best practices, conduct benchmark studies of our competitors’ checkout flow, and work closely with product management to ideate and iterate on solutions.
We specifically looked at how Sephora could improve the shopping cart and checkout flow to ensure fewer users abandon their purchase. Our research included areas such the shopping cart, users privacy concerns, form field usability, gifting features, the flow and layout of checkout pages, 3rd party payments, validation errors, etc.
Conducted benchmark studies of checkout flows from Macy’s, Nordstroms, Crate & Barrel and Walgreens and startups like Warby Parker to analyze which features were working and which were not.
Used research by Baymard Institute to understand typical HCI among customers in checkout and cutting-edge best practices.
Analyzed our analytics data for drop-offs and abandoned carts to focus our redesign attention on those significant problem spots.
Iterated and tested wires and prototypes to validate design decisions, resulting in an IA and UX that we were confident would increase customer conversion.
My team worked closely with product management and the business stakeholders to ensure that we were balancing user desires with business goals.
One part of this research was based on usability testing with 75 subjects and a clickable (but not fully functional prototype) following the “Think Aloud” protocol. The usability study tasked users to complete a purchase for multiple different types of products from “shopping cart” to “completed sale”.
The duration of each subject’s test session was ~ 1 hour long.
The aim was to examine the full breadth of the user’s checkout behavior, and present the issues which are most likely to cause checkout abandonments. And as importantly, to present the solutions and validate checkout design patterns that during testing were verified to cause a high performing checkout flow.
The other part of this research was a comprehensive usability benchmark of Sephora’s main competitors, along with examination of non-competitors who were pushing the envelope in Checkout flow redesign.
Using the 134 checkout usability guidelines from the large-scale Baymard usability tests as the review heuristics and scoring parameters, we noted those areas where Sephora’s flow was sub-par. This gave us our game plan for the first iteration of the redesign.
We conducted 3 rounds of A/B testing with actual Sephora customers:
Two different versions of ‘checkout billing/shipping’ designs
Three alternate ‘Captcha’ versions
Two different versions of ‘cart’ designs
We also analyzed quantitative data collected by Google Analytics.
Though it may be counterintuitive, process is the key to creative thinking. When the design team understands the stages a design will travel as it is researched, ideated, conceptualized, tested and iterated, they are free to expand their creativity within those boundaries.
The results of my efforts built a team of 7 designers who handle the entirety of the Sephora digital product design. The processes ensured effective ideation through delivery to engineering. It has ensured a world-wide brand is known for it’s digital forward thinking.