Developing a retail vertical
Originally based in Washington D.C., LivingSocial was a leading group buying company with a strong presence in the Australia and New Zealand daily deals market. Subscribers to the social buying platform were connected to merchants at a hyperlocal level. As business expanded into new markets globally, the range of verticals from only group discounts to also include travel, events, food delivery and online retail, among others.
With product and merchandising deals becoming more frequent, various off-the-shelf retail solutions (such as Magento) and logistics vendors were deployed to overcome the limitations of the LivingSocial platform which was originally only designed to deliver PDF coupons via email to customers, not for online shopping and home delivery.
The initiative to test an online shopping vertical for LivingSocial was kicked off in the Australia and New Zealand market. As Head of UX for this market, I worked with Sydney and US-based product, engineering, marketing and logistics teams to extend the platform into the online shopping space.
After first release, both user and A/B testing results gave the teams a roadmap for feature enhancements and usability improvements. Expansion into new markets also required localisation of the user experience where needs and expectations for online shopping and delivery often differed significantly across international markets.
With the development of the LivingSocial Shop platform, opportunities for more retail verticals opened up with one of the earliest initiatives being the development of LivingSocial Wine, again proposed and developed by the Sydney-based team.
Both the introduction of new verticals beyond the group buying market and the proliferation of smart phone use required a rethink of the core UI to make better use of available screen technologies and layouts. It also required the development of a design system with consistent components that could be re-used in a many contexts across all verticals and associated layouts.
Early thinking for the redesign focused on consolidation not only of the UI components and behaviours across all verticals, but also on the content itself with concepts for an aggregated LivingSocial "destination" home page driving the direction for how it might be applied at the vertical level.
These experiments ran in parallel with the addition of new structural objects, such as branded or themed collections for Shop, and improvements to the overall information architecture and structural navigation.
Most of the features and design innovated by the ANZ team for Shop were eventually implemented across all verticals with a flexible design system and consistent user experience.