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Flight Deck

A simple, unified solution to Jet / Walmart’s retail strategy.

 

The problem with category management

Jet.com is an online shopping site featuring products from a wide range of categories. Each category has a category manager who is an expert on all the products found in a particular product category.

For example, if you are a category manager for toys, you are responsible for managing, merchandising, pricing toys on Jet.com, as well as maintaining relationships with toy brands across the globe.

When I joined Jet, there were approximately 100 people on the category management team. They used a patchwork of processes, including running SQL queries, downloading data into Excel, and sending emails over the wall. After Jet’s acquisition by Walmart in 2016, the category management team grew to 400 people.

Category managers had no way of gaining a holistic view of their business, across web analytics, revenue goals, and supply chain issues. My team’s mission was to solve these problems through a simple, unified approach to category management.

The output of user-centered research; unpacking issues and opportunities to solve for with Flight Deck

The output of user-centered research; unpacking issues and opportunities to solve for with Flight Deck

 

My role

I was the design lead. I started off as a design team of one, rolling up my sleeves through research to design. As the project grew, I hired and managed three additional product designers.

My team partnered with product managers, developers, and business stakeholders. This included the Chief Revenue Officer of Jet.com and Walmart, who had regular involvement with the product development process.

 

Solving category managers’ needs

Research and heuristic evaluation led us to understand that category managers monitor a combination of site metrics and revenue/product metrics.

They needed to manage sales and traffic for their respective categories, and manage product supply. On the product side, they needed a way to be exposed to core insights and manage critical issues. With this understanding, my team and I defined key goals and a vision for category managers:

  • Category managers need a way to get closer to the customers’ mind-set when merchandizing products

  • In-context data and insights are fundamental to successful category management, especially when consolidated into a unified platform

  • Easy-to-digest summaries are more helpful than metrics without context

These insights culminated into the core opportunities for Flight Deck, a category management product built to serve the growing needs of category managers.

Metrics and insights

We quickly learned that with each category manager often overseeing thousands of products within each category, hunting for answers wasn’t going to cut it. Flight Deck serves up aggregated metrics for each category, as well as strategic insights to help ensure that category managers are focusing addressing the right opportunities.

Helping guide new users, and supporting experts

With a user-base growing from 100 to over 400, we needed to ensure that Flight Deck can be used by both beginners and experts alike. Helpful explanations in natural language guide novices, while keyboard commands and sortable lists help experts quickly take action.

 

Designing Flight Deck

 
A group of users in a collaborative sketching session

A group of users in a collaborative sketching session

The output of a card-sorting exercise with users, to understand their most valued processes

The output of a card-sorting exercise with users, to understand their most valued processes

Sitting down with users to perform contextual research to understand how they work

Sitting down with users to perform contextual research to understand how they work

Some of the research activities my team and I collaborated on included:

  • Retail stakeholder workshops

  • Contextual research

  • Collaborative sketching and design thinking with users

  • Qualitative and quantitative surveys with varied user types

  • A heuristic audit of existing retail tools

  • A competitive analysis of products on the market

 

A selection of our style guide, drawing on a harmonization between Jet.com and Walmart

Not every idea made it to production. Here is an example of a design treatment which never saw the light of day. These experiments are instrumental in shaping what goes into production

Additionally, we created the following design deliverables:

  • A research findings report/presentation

  • Storyboards of how users might engage with Flight Deck

  • Wireframes and functional specifications

  • A click-through prototype

  • Hi-fidelity screen designs

  • A style guide

My team partnered with with product managers, developers, and stakeholders from the retail team across Jet.com and Walmart to bring Flight Deck to life.

 
 

Flight Deck is just one of many initiatives my team and I spearheaded at Jet.com. It is embedded into category managers’ workflows across Jet and Walmart, as well as all the other Walmart eCommerce Brands, like Hayneedle and Shoes.com.

The focus on human-centered problems, combined with Jet business strategy, led to a cross-brand platform to drive change. This is the type of work I love to do, and if this is the type of work which interests you, please reach out and say hello.

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