The evolution of a brand & company

How an enterprise solution birthed a brand new product for SMBs

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Overview:

Discovering product-market fit

What began as a secure data collaboration platform targeting enterprise customers evolved into a full end-to-end product allowing brands, marketplaces, and SMBs to promote, co-market, and cross-sell. Through the process of POCs and user feedback, we transformed a small technical feature into a much larger and valuable product for one of our target markets. 

Experimentation:

Proof of concept

At QEDIT I was the sole designer working on the secure data collaboration platform. This platform allows organizations across various verticals to securely collaborate on data in order to gain valuable business insights all while preserving the privacy of customer data and sensitive business information.

 

The secure data collaboration platform works for many use cases including financial services, insurance, and ecommerce.  We ran a pilot for two organizations in the ecommerce area on the QEDIT platform over the period of two months.

QEDIT Platform dashboard from the business growth POC 

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The QEDIT secure data collaboration platform showing the results of overlapping & non-overlapping customers of two organizations

Observational research:

What we learnt when our assumptions were wrong

Two organizations uploaded their datasets and found overlapping customers at an incredibly high rate of accuracy. After identifying overlapping customers, they were able to segment and target the non-overlapping customers in a way they never had before. The organizations were taking the results from QEDIT and then creating campaigns outside of the platform. The ability to identify overlapping and non-overlapping customers was an advancement in their campaigning that they were never able to achieve before. However, it didn’t provide enough value on it’s own as a product and did not alleviate time on task. If we could allow organizations to make these identifications and create segmentations in their audiences never before possible, we could greatly enhance the entire co-marketing experience. But what if we could actually offer a full product through which they could also create, launch, and manage these campaigns, rather than just give them a list of results? 

Market research

I researched large and small marketing campaign platforms in order to understand the basic technical and user requirements for building such a platform. Along the way we discovered one partial competitor for our solution and delved deeper into their business model and product strategy to better understand how we could differentiate ourselves and how to better articulate what our unique value proposition was. Through this process we understood how we could merge what was initially our secure data collaboration platform offering a small technical value feature and a marketing campaign platform to create a complete end-to-end product. 

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Whiteboarding from brainstorm sessions & first attempt at implementing this in the QEDIT platform

ROI- The business value of UX

Based on our research, we knew that the business value of such a product was truly the user experience. Together with the product manager, we brainstormed and whiteboarded many variations of a campaign platform that would allow for QEDIT to add campaign capabilities. It became clear early on in this process that this added feature is not just a feature, but a complete product in and of itself. The few prototypes that I created became the main source of discussion of the direction of the company.

 

Before attempting to create a brand new product without understanding if this product was scalable we invested time in market research. It was validated through many discussions with shops, brands, and marketplaces that such a product would be incredibly useful to them. In order to keep the secure data collaboration “clean” to continue supporting multiple verticals without introducing custom features for specific use cases, we proceeded with creating a new end-to-end product. 

The problem

We understood that the initial design concept was based off of an assumption that organizations needed to agree to a partnership before co-marketing. Not only that, they would be responsible for selecting and onboarding this partner themselves and then contractualize terms and organizing the placement of products on their stores themselves. This is a lot of work for a small company to do if they only want to trial campaigns and place a few products once in a while, and for CartStream leads to complications in product-growth and a much longer sales cycle. If we could reduce the amount of onboarding friction for shops and open up multiple channels of growth for them, it would greatly enhance the scalability of this product.  

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"Store: Hoodie Society"

The problem: Partnered stores must be found and contractualized outside the platform

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The solution

I proposed a vision of the CartStream marketplace. The concept is that any shop, regardless of category or brand type, could join CartStream and browse and discover shops that they want to co-market and cross-sell with. For example, a scooter company has decided that they don’t want to just try to promote their product in a bicycle shop. They would like to market in a yoga store. 

Prototyping & testing

Prototyping allowed us to create multiple custom demos for our internal stakeholders and potential customers. We created prototypes that speak to their brand specifically to help them understand how CartStream can level up their marketing efforts in an unprecedented way.

Through testing these prototypes both internally and externally we learnt methods of browsing to find partner stores was very different between different brands and that we need to customize this stage of the product more thoroughly. We iterated on this stage of the product the most and developed a very detail-oriented approach that met all customer needs.

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Screen from a prototype built for a potential customer to demonstrate how their and their partner products would be integrated in CartStream

Beta launch & iterations

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The MVP of our new end-to-end product came together quickly. We based it off of current campaign models allowing for the same level of campaign delivery while still enabling the key technical value proposition of segmenting audiences through secure data collaboration. It currently relies on the need for a partnership between stores to be established without the ability to find them in CartStream.

 

In the next version it will include the Discovery/Marketplace experience which will allow for complete flexibility of a retailer or supplier to browse and select brands and products that they want to sell in their store or propose to be sold in other stores in addition to all the campaign features and functionalities of the current version. 

CartStream Design Screens

Click images to enlarge

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