Orient Electric —E-comm Website Story

Introduction:

‘Orient Electric’ is one of India’s largest and oldest electronics appliance retailers worth almost $600mn. They hold a major market share of the sector and are an omnipresent, household brand that has been selling India fans, lights, geysers, cookers, and almost every household electrical equipment for the past 80 years.

With more & more of India going online, Orient wanted to establish their own market presence in the online space. They wanted to completely re-work their existing E-comm website, & design it in a way that would work best for all the various, extremely distinct demographics that buy their appliances.

Out of many design agencies, Noor Inc. was chosen for the UX Design of their E-comm website!

My Role:

For this particular project, along with four other members, I was part of the core team responsible for Orient Electric’s UX Research!

Shreya Thati, MAK Zaid, Mahroos Ali & Arrfah Khan were the other four involved in the UX Research effort

I was involved in all of the procedures employed for UX Research for both qualitative and quantitative data collection.

What did I learn?

  • Surveying, Interviewing, Data collection, synthesis & validation: User Persona creation, Journey Mapping, Competition analysis.
  • Collaborating & working with fellow Researchers, Business Stakeholders & UX Designers.

Timelines:

Initially, we had discussions with all stakeholders from Orient’s side to sketch out requirements and fix project goals.

The project was divided into three phases with a total timeline of three and a half months: April to July 2021.

First Phase: 1st April — 28th April(1 month)
Second Phase: 28th April — 28th June(2 months)
Third Phase: 28th June — 15th July(1/2 month)

Research Statement and Goals:

Our overall aim was to create a captive, consumer-centric platform that enables consumers of all demographics to have an engaging, easy and intuitive shopping experience. To achieve this, we set definitive goals for our research task:

Research Methodologies:

To get an answer for various questions on the overview of the user, brand & product insights(ex: “how many people think of Orient’s products this way?”, “how many people face this problem?”, “what are the most common problems?” etc.) we conducted quantitative analysis (Surveying & Desk Research)

To understand the reasoning behind behaviors and for in-depth learning of the users (ex: “why do they think this way?”), we conducted qualitative research (User Interviews & Observation).

1. Surveys:

Given the timeline, we decided to do just two rounds of surveys & did it in intervals to develop the survey & validate a few insights got from the first iteration.

After extensive discussions, we listed down four significant points we needed:

  • Purchase Dependencies: product-specific;
  • Market understanding: brand penetration, brand positioning, competitor evaluation;
  • Pain Points: product-specific + brand-specific;
  • Product expectations & needs+ Brand expectations & needs;

Recruitment: Given the ubiquitous nature of the products Orient sold, i.e., fans and lights were used by almost everyone, we did not have any strict filters for choosing respondents, but it was important to get a proper mix of people.

We chose people above the age of 18 till 55+ from different economic classes, occupations, regions of India, genders & cultures. Around 2,000 people were surveyed using Google forms.

As we had to cover quite a lot with the survey, keeping it as short as possible was our top priority. We categorized the survey into three segments, with each segment having questions on the same topic, for the respondent’s ease in answering.

  • The first segment started off with very easy questions to get a basic profile of the respondent and then transitioned to find dependencies (if any) for making purchases.
  • The second segment focused on brand penetration, market-competitor evaluation.
  • The third segment explored precise product-related pain points, expectations & needs. Based on inputs from the Orient team, we limited the research to just the four most important product categories:
  • Fans
  • Lights
  • Grinders-geysers/heaters-irons
  • Switches

After the first round of surveying (~3days), we reviewed and improved the form by changing and adding a few more questions.

After analyzing all the data points, I chose the most impactful ones and created a survey report.

2. Interviews:

We conducted two sets of interviews.

  1. User Interviews
  2. Business Team Interviews

User Interviews: As this was during COVID lockdowns, we conducted interviews via google meet at a scheduled time.

We interviewed 150 people over one week: ~30–40 per day, three people from our team conducted 10–15 interviews per day, each lasting around 10–15 minutes.

We had a template of questions ready but focused on a more contextual interviewing process, i.e., we used the template to keep a track of all topics to cover but dug deep into topics based on users’ responses.

The interview focused on profiling them, finding out opinions on Orient as a brand, competitors’ evaluation, and more importantly, product-specific needs/requirements, journeys to product acquisition & product-specific pain points.

After completion of the interviews of the day, I held a meeting to take gather data in an excel sheet. Mid-week, halfway through the interviewing sessions, we had an internal meet to review processes and discuss difficulties/challenges. At the end of all the interviews, we filtered all inputs to find the most important ones and made a report to segment consumers & build user personas.

Business Interviews: To get an insight on the various product features that could match with user expectations & make consumers understand our value proposition, we conducted interviews with sales managers of various Orient products. We aimed at learning:

  • Product/segment-specific unique, principal features
  • Product/segment-specific most looked for features by consumers
  • Product-specific misconceptions/mishaps/pain points
  • Additional features wrt product division that could give Orient products an edge

We conducted 10 interviews with straightforward questions like the ones above & concluded by creating a synthesis document.

3. Observation:

We visited various offline retail stores(non-Orient) in groups of two, for 5 days a week, during peak business hours, and observed actual customers buying appliances.

This gave us very critical insights on a customer’s journey from discovering/exploring various options -> looking for features/expectations -> till finally deciding what to buy. We made a note of various types of customers & journeys, the features they looked for in the products, additional requirements they had from a brand/product perspective.

Through this, we could find & validate various triggers: product and brand-related that ushered customers to make purchases (this is discussed later in the triggers section)

We also interacted with many salespersons to get an evaluation of competitors’ unique selling points, what matters most to customers, and misunderstandings and mishaps related to products.

4. Desk Research:

Thorough research into the market and the competitor’s weaknesses and strengths could give valuable insights into ‘what works’ and ‘what can be done’ & find any gaps in the market.

sample screenshot of the product range
  1. Product Range: list of all available products and price ranges;
  2. General Company Info: size, employees, brand ambassadors;
  3. Current Online ecosystem: how do they sell their products: any B2B online tie-ups, independent website/app, how do they take service requests, how do they offer online customer support, etc;
  4. Social Media & Influence: How active are they, what do they use it for? how many followers? What all platforms?;
  5. Offline Ecosystem: Number of offline stores, service centers; B2B tie-ups;
  6. Other Information: Brand-specific discounts, average warranty offered across products, etc;

All the data was collected in sheets and a consolidated report (like the ones shown above) with chief learnings from each competitor was created. A separate document with just feature-related insights from competitors was created for clarity in learning.

Synthesis & Outputs:

We made multiple reports that enclosed findings from surveys, interviews & competition analysis. But it was important to condense a lot of information into an impactful, direct & easy-to-read, overview data report.

Hence, one final report enclosing: Consumer Segmentation, User Personas, Category Triggers & User Journey Mapping, the four most important learnings, was created.

Consumer Segmentation:

Based on the research, we created a consumer segmentation grid that encapsulated all possible consumers in the market & the approaches we could opt for a particular customer. A 3x3 grid with a mix of 3 Brand engagement levels of consumers & 3 levels of customers awareness(shown below) with business insights highlighting the main target groups was made. Based on the research we found the most impactful action points(listed below as “Primary”) for a particular type of user & additional actionable items(“Auxillary”) of importance: this was crucial in choosing features & information to be shown on PLP: Product listing Pages;

User Personas:

Based on the segmentation we created User Personas for each of the nine types of consumers. The personas aimed to capture the overall mental image: Goals, Roles & Emotions: psychology & background of the user; which helped in focusing on the end-user while designing the website.

This helped in:

  • Finding accessibility issues: We found language barriers and technological barriers: a huge portion of the users was Hindi speaking, thus warranting a need for designing the website in Hindi and English, a crucial improvement as it was earlier available only in English
  • Setting information hierarchies
  • Brand positioning: setting UI guidelines for the website
three sample User Personas

Category Triggers:

This was a synthesis of product-specific learnings from consumer interviews & competition analysis about: when the product purchase/selection happens, what factors impact the purchase. This was most crucial for the payment page and PLP’s(Product Listing Page’s) UX writing. These triggers helped us prepare copy, put the right filters, craft user journeys, and worked towards sales conversions!

This was a non-exhaustive list and we were always adding to it as and how we discovered more of a particular product.

Sample screenshot of category triggers of a particular product

Journey Mapping:

We created typical Journey Maps for all 9 types of consumers. It led from the discovery -> awareness -> consideration -> decision stage. These helped in directing user attention, creating user flows, and more!

Sample Journey mapping of a Brand Agnostic consumer

Impact:

The final and the intermediate reports were presented to various teams like marketing, sales & other CXO level management members. The research provided a holistic understanding of consumers to various teams, in ways they had not foreseen.

At a larger level, the marketing & sales team was able to build on their content strategy, including how they reached out to customers and also worked on offline stores’ marketing. A key insight into emerging market gaps was also found which was taken by the business development team to ramp production.

Next Steps:

We had intense briefing sessions with UX designers, explaining to them various insights. Along with another researcher, I spent time assisting the UX designers on drafting user flows, wireframing PLP, PDP, and home pages. As the design progresses we would have weekly interviews to review the designs with the UX designers.

Reflections:

Challenges:

  • For the synthesis documents, deduced from large amounts of data, I did not get clear reasoning behind “why a certain piece of data was chosen as an important factor affecting design”. Though I had raised questions during internal discussions and was given rationales, I am still uncertain about how to choose relevant fields to create a synthesis document, especially when there is a huge amount of data.
  • We should have taken mock interview sessions before actual ones, the first few weren’t up to the mark, leading to wasted time and resources.
  • Did not offer any incentive to people filling out surveys hence many surveys seemed very carelessly answered, leading to increased effort in finding more, better-suited people to respond-> need to make sure to offer incentives of some kind

What went well:

  • People actually used the research!
  • The methodology allowed us to reach all of our goals
  • The mindset of the organization shifted towards more user-centricity
  • Emerging market gaps were discovered & clear, actionable points learned from the research to improve user experience was being acted upon
  • A diverse set of teams found the research useful!

Closing Statement:

The E-commerce website is currently under development and will be launched soon!

Thanks a lot for reading!! Hope this article gave you insights into my experience as a UX Researcher as a part of a large team. Please contact me for further information. Visit my portfolio at alabhyasingh.com

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UX designer & Entrepreneur on 5 days of the week, Storyteller on 7

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Thakur Alabhya Singh

Thakur Alabhya Singh

UX designer & Entrepreneur on 5 days of the week, Storyteller on 7

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