Product Management In M-Commerce And E-Commerce

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Tesco Endless Aisles

Tesco Endless Aisles

ProductTank June focused on Product Management In M-Commerce and E-Commerce, looking at what product managers need to consider when building online and mobile shopping experiences.

We learned a lot from insightful talks by Tara Etherington (Ribot), Aziz Musa (Pegasus) and Dave Martin (Pocket Recruit), who drew from their own experiences. The event was curated by Cecile Deiner (@CielD).

E-Commerce Innovation At Tesco

First up was Tara Etherington (@MsPants), the user experience designer from digital design studio Ribot.  Tara walked us through the endless aisles of Tesco innovation – specifically talking about bringing massive digital displays to the aisles to create a more interactive shopping experience.

The Tesco’s ‘Endless Aisle’ project was an 80″ shopping experience where digital meets physical. Tara gave us a bit of background to the project, explained the delivery journey with the changes in resource and ownership, client/agency relationships and then discussed the challenges they faced in keeping it simple.

Here’re a few things we learned along the way:

  • Simplicity is hard
  • Design products for a physical space has certain considerations, including health and safety and lots of red tape
  • Key objectives should always be a constant reminder as you build – it’s important to remind the team what they are building
  • “We really need to learn. A part of learning is failing”

Compromising Beauty In Product Design

Next up, Aziz Musa (@azizmusa), the digital director at Pegasus, talked about his own experience in e-commerce, pulling all-nighters with his team to get the mobile experience at Photobox up to scratch.  He explored what compromising on beauty does to your customers, partners, organisation and even your soul.

We learned a lot from this one, including:

  • Anything you learn today is irrelevant tomorrow. You need to keep innovating
  • “Nothing distorts reality as effectively as the promise of financial gain” – Herman & Chomsky
  • “We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience” – John Dewey
  • “Profound simplicity is not merely the absence of complexity, it is the exquisite mastery of it”
  • Pressure on the product owner from the commercial manager to make money and deliver wears you down
  • There’s no shame in striving for pure perfection and failing. There’s shame in failing to strive for them

Left you wanting more? Tweet your questions to (@azizmusa) or join the debate in the comments below.

Building Products For Mobile

Finally, we had Dave Martin (@mobile_dave), the co-founder of Pocket Recruit, take the stage with practical, useful advice on building mobile products.  He shared his experience optimising complex conversion funnels for mobile, and maximising familiar mobile user experience to increase revenue lines from a mobile audience. He touched on difficult challenges on mobile such as testing, wide compatibility and responsive web design.

Here’re some useful insights we took away from his talk:

  • Why bother with mobile? Mobile web is on track to be primary web access
  • Why do people use mobile? To accomplish, to socialise, to prepare, for ‘me time’, to discover
  • Pushing users back to the desktop will increase drop-off and lose more money
  • Gather field level data: Pinpoint where your user is struggling on mobile and identify difficult spots
  • Mobile-first design will guide you to enhance your desktop experience
  • What happens when the lights are out, when you’re offline? On mobile, we need to think about that
  • Responsive web design as Holy Grail? Pros and cons, though Google, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, BCC and Yahoo don’t rely on RWD

Q&A About M-Commerce And E-Commerce

After three great talks, we moved on to our Q&A:

“What are your experiences with off-the-peg landing pages by the likes of Wufoo?  What works well on mobile?”

Dave pointed out that something simple like Wufoo works, and that there are certainly more expensive enterprise-level solutions available out there too.

“When testing the shopping experience, how did you quantify and qualify research from users?”

Tara pointed out that for the user experience testing for the Endless Aisles project was done by a separate entity, though she wishes she’d had the chance to perform her own testing.

“Aziz spoke about being a perfectionist and being under pressure.  How much of that pressure was your own or external?”

According to Aziz, all internal pressure is good, while bad external pressure clouds your judgement.  In his case, it was mostly internal.

“Aren’t there always goals that build up pressures, regardless of budget? Does the pressure not help?”

Aziz disagreed with this premise, stating that if you require outside pressure to get things done, something internally needs to change.

“Phones are meant for talking, not typing. When will there be a mobile commerce experience that’s closer to simply talking to Siri?”

Dave pointed out that there’re plenty of situations where the privacy of typing would be preferred (ie when on a train or in the company of others) and so mobile will likely never become a voice-only experience.

“What about developing apps natively instead of responsive web design?”

This may not always be appropriate, as Dave indicated. Think about things like buying car insurance, which you do just once a year. There’s no point in making an app for that.

After the Q&A we wrapped up ProductTank with another round of drinks alongside some great networking.  We hope to see everyone back again for the next ProductTank looking at Making Trade-Offs In Product Management. We’ll be revealing the date and venue soon, so keep an eye out for the announcement.

Thank you to Wonga (they are hiring!) for sponsoring the event, to Cecile Deiner for pulling together these awesome speakers, and to Joost Shuur for the lively Tweet stream all evening.  Get in touch with us if you’re interested in curating a ProductTankwriting for our blog on MindTheProduct, or sponsoring our events.

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