Soleful began as just an idea by its founders with the vision of becoming the next best platform for sneaker collectors to buy shoes.
The goal of this particular project was to create a beautiful and seamless user interface and conduct user research and interviews to identify pain points and provide viable solutions
Length of Project: 2 months
Role:UX Design (research, interaction design, visual design)
UI Design (Interface Design)
Created a MVP for the stakeholders to start development to launch in app store
MVP secured $50,000 in funding
UNDERSTANDING & ALIGNMENT
My first step in any project is to understand and business goals and technical specifications, I hop onto a video call with the stakeholders hoping to learn more about it's business and its features and solutions to problems
Business objective: to create a platform where sneaker heads can buy shoes.
Problem statement: how to create a platform that will be unique and win market share from competitors
Target Audience: sneaker heads
Identify the top competitors to analyze, and determine their offerings and market position
Use their products/services to understand how their business is structured
Identify any UX issues with a competitor’s product and create a comprehensive list. This list will help me learn from other people’s mistakes.
After identifying UX issues, look for any visual design shortcomings.
(competitor analysis matrix)
Most of the competitors are not search optimised, their features are more suited for window shopping and browsing, they do not have a specific target audience
Interface design and information architecture for Shopee, Lazada, Carousell looks cluttered.
Users using ecommerce apps like Shopee, Lazada, Carousell might be worried about the legitimacy of products
None of the competitors have the same feature / solution
With research goals in mind, I gathered contextual information about the sneaker marketplace market and identified a baseline for what users expect from a service.
Discover user pain points and potential problems
Get to know potential users and really empathize with them
Understand their buying habits for sneakers
I chose user interviews (1 on 1) as my mode of research and gathering information, interviewing 5 face to face, and 2 over video call.
In 71% of user interviews, in order to find new sneakers, people would search for a brand or a specific shoe
Information about new releases is key.
Competitors' sites are unreliable at times
ANALYSING USER DATA
My design processes relies on a data-driven approach known as the severity framework to inform my process and list usability issues in order of priority. The framework helps to identify the severity score of a usability issue based on the following three variables:
Task criticality x impact x frequency = Severity
Task criticality - how important is the task to the user? (1 = low, 10 = critical)
Impact - how much of an impact does this issue have on the user's task? (1 = suggestion, 10 = blocker)
Frequency (%) - how many times does this come up out of total participants?
CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES
After researching on my own about the industry, other platforms and connecting with people who love sneakers and their pain points, I could see several opportunities for the company.
No one in the market is doing pre-orders
People are frustrated when they do not get the limited edition sneakers that they fell in love with.
The company can pre-order on their behalf to buy and purchase the sneakers for them.
Crowds outside the Foot Locker outlet at Orchard Gateway
Resellers and Scalpers are frustrating
Some have made lucrative businesses out of it, holding on to the sneakers for a long time and watching their resale values spike, while others treat it as a hobby and a way to earn side income through quick flips.
Prices and skyrocket and you might have to wait a very long time before resellers are ready to sell it to you.
The company can sell limited editions at fair pricings
Keeping up with Information is not reliable
According to the resellers, sneaker stores never formally publicise these in-store releases beforehand. At most, it would be a social media post on the day of the event as it happened.
The company can potentially provide notifications and reminders to people using their platform, on the lastest information available
Some resellers could have an insider, sometimes working in the sneaker stores, notifying them in advance of physical releases. These resellers would then relay this information to members of their sneaker "cook groups", who pay to be the first to know about physical releases.
Those who have this advance information, either paid for or speculated on, might tell other sneaker fans in their inner circle.
Competition is Strong
With many platforms like Lazada,FootLocker, Shopee, Amazon and Nike, it would be difficult to gain market share.
The stakeholders initially thought that if they were to just launch the platform into the open sea it will do well on its own.
Having a strong unique selling point(USP) would be crucial.
My job is to be curious and strategic in finding how can they beat the market leaders.
Using the quantitative and qualitative data from interviews and survey results I created Jameson, he shares many of the frustrations of the users I interviewed, namely a busy lifestyle that makes keeping up with limited sales a struggle and an uncertainty when it comes to buying products for his collection.
He wants to get easy information in order to make a good purchasing decision on a budget
Missing out on limited sales is an issue
Exploration on new sneakers based on taste profile would be a new feature for him
Supports and prefers local businesses and traders
Social media is his main source of getting information for new sales
My objective during this phase was to make the interface look clean and neat, unlike its competitors which are cluttered.
From the data I gathered from the user interviews,
a huge pain point was that they were not able to get limited sales as they were too many. To solve the problem, I implemented a pre-order feature, which they can be reminded to purchase the product when it is out, they could also use Soleful's premium service, Soleful would buy on their behalf.
"This is a great feature, since I don't have the time to keep track of everything and sometimes I might miss the timing to buy the sneaker I want" - Said one of the users
Result and Takeaway
Since the implementation of the solutions and building of Soleful, the stakeholders are still in beta test with this application, it has yet to launch in the app store.
My key takeaways from this experience are:
If there was more time available.....
Development of further user personas and Journey Maps / Task Models – in addition to the product-based Journey Map an experience-based Journey Map
More research, as it‘s a complex and extensive topic with many factors (for example, technical and social challenges) and various stakeholders
Further iterations / test phases, actually test the platform with the focus group to get their feedback and finetune it.