How does a niche retail titan maintain consistency within their Omni-Channel presence without compromising individual brand integrity?
Working with the existing Web and Print Design teams at Zumiez, my mandate was to utilize existing customer data — alongside new research I conducted — to better adapt the Customer Experience to the changing needs of several divergent user groups.
I focused on a core set of improvements that pertained most to my stakeholders’ goals:
- Simple/Complex Balance – A successful eCommerce Customer Experience will strike a balance between simplicity and complexity, prioritizing each when necessary for the user
- Brand Consistency – Not only are Zumiez house brands allowed to flourish under their own power, a multitude of brands within the retail space need their own room to “be themselves”
- Personalization – Now more than ever, personalizing to the individual is key; not just personalization of products, but personalization of experience by accommodating different devices and ways of shopping
Every online retailer that continues to expand their product lines eventually needs to address the issue of how to put more menu items in a menu that is already full to overflowing.
Card sorts revealed that, although the existing menu items were sensible enough, some users were put off by the cognitive load associated with uncertainty when presented with a category that could have qualified as a sub-category of another item. Using rows or menu items as a clear visual nod any hierarchical relationship meant less backtracking by users seeking to affirm their choice of category.
Zumiez Checkout Path
At first, the concerning rate of cart abandonment was attributed to the number of steps in the checkout process and a plan put in place to combine these steps into one super checkout page; however, research revealed that it wasn’t so much the number of steps that drove customers back, but the perception of being forced to jump through hoops in order to complete a purchase. We systematically removed barriers to checkout, like requiring customers to have an account (or take the time to create one) and hiding the multitude of payment options until the customer has selected them, and the exit rate from checkout dropped precipitously.
Design Your Own Complete Skateboard
A crown jewel of Zumiez’s personalization services is the DYOC (Design Your Own Complete skateboard) tool. At the time, though, its 90’s-influenced visual design and Flash-based implementation had fallen behind the times, making it look and feel dated. Working with the web development team, I redesigned the product as an HTML5 tool with a sleeker, more modern design that would age better in the coming years.
Responsive Website Design
Though I left Zumiez before seeing it come to fruition, I helped lay plans for a new version of the website built upon responsive and/or adaptive web technologies, that would use progressive enhancement on top of a mobile-first fluid layout to ensure that being on a certain device would never become a barrier to our services.