SQUARE ROUTE: UX RESEARCH PROJECT
I designed Square Route to empower small business merchants to set goals and achieve their dreams, even without extensive technology experience. Sellers can easily set their business goals and discover relevant apps that can help them achieve their dreams.
In 2019, Square Atlanta approached my department asking: how can we better the omnichannel experiences of their merchants.
An omnichannel experience combines several channels to sell goods. For example, channels can be online stores, email newsletters, and purchasing from a brick and mortar store.
FOCUSING ON SQUARE MERCHANTS
My team first decided to narrow down the vast variety Square merchants to focus our research and go further in-depth. Examining the Square online help forum called the Square Seller Community, we discovered that most businesses posting on the forum were small local food and beverage venues.
After this initial research, we developed a firm problem statement:
“Square sellers need a tool to help them integrate their existing businesses across different channels in order to create a consistent brand, save time managing disparate platforms, and sell to consumers at many touchpoints.”
With this problem statement in mind, we began to conduct research.
Examining the Square Seller Community further, we identified issues and anxieties that Square merchants have. With smaller businesses, my team discovered merchants’ desires to expand their business and reach more clients, while confused with understanding Square’s integrated features like online stores and integrated apps.
We also looked at other companies and their methods for selling goods to clients. A sporting goods retailer Orvis provides excellent customer support and hardware with software pre-installed. Orvis understands that merchants who are less familiar with technology require guidance, support, and ease of use in exchange for customer data in the form of shopping preferences and purchase records. These are used to better recommend future purchases.
Through online surveying, we reached out to mom and pop food and beverage venues all over the country, such as food trucks, catering businesses, and restaurants of a wide variety of sizes.
We asked which POS (point of sales) systems they used, the ease of use, and their future plans. We discovered that like in our online research, merchants wanted to also expand their business.
My team also collected data through in person contextual inquiries. We reached out to small food and beverage venues around Atlanta, such as a local catering business, and several merchants at Ponce City Market, a large food hall with a variety of small stalls.
We asked which POS systems were used, current operations at their food venues, and their wants and needs to improve their system. The responses from the Contextual Inquiries were then arranged into an Affinity Map where we grouped together the categories of statements.
This interviewing resulted in our discovery that instead of using Square integrated apps and other features that were available through Square, these merchants were using third party apps such as Google Sheets to maintain inventory, or a physical whiteboard and marker to keep track of orders.
PARTICIPATORY DESIGN SESSIONS
In person at Square, we held a participatory design session where we asked merchants to develop a persona based on their experiences and think of Rose, Bud, and Thorn. Through these sessions, we determined what they enjoy about their business, what they would like to accomplish in the future, and what they do not enjoy in their business.
Based on the data we collected, we settled on the following key findings:
Merchants need help using Square products and features.
Merchants want to perform core tasks with lesser effort.
Merchants want a seamless customizable set of tools tailored to their business.
Merchants would like to better connect with clients, grow and improve their businesses.
Merchants want to optimize their business, but sometimes it’s out of their core competency.
Using our research results, we came up with 6 design iterations with a variety of attributes.
1. PERSONALIZATION TOOL
Square Merchants would be able to select a set of tools that are tailored to the type of business that they run, such as routes for a food truck business, or weather conditions for an outdoor stall.
2. APP RECOMMENDATION TOOL
Merchants would receive recommendations for apps that are integrated with Square for a better cohesive experience to perform tasks and manage their business.
3. ENGAGEMENT TOOL
Merchants could directly message and speak to their customers to receive orders that are accurate and stored.
4. SOCIAL MEDIA TOOL
Merchants can create a post using this feature to promote events, deals, or other customer benefits, then post them on a variety of social media platforms.
5. PRODUCT TO STORE TOOL
Merchants can track their goods if they are sold and stocked in larger stores.
6. GROWTH STRATEGY TOOL
Square merchants are given recommendations tailored to their business about how to grow and expand.
After further deliberation and ranking of each feature, we returned to several of our contacts from our research to see which tool would be most useful. Finally, after tabulating the results, we chose the Integrated App Recommendation tool, but also feature elements from the Growth Strategy and Personalization ideas.
1.0 APP RECOMMENDATION TOOL
The initial version of our tool. Merchants would be able to access this icon on the Square Dashboard, input filters depending on what type of applications they would deem to be most useful, and select the results based on search parameters.
2.0 FIRST SQUARE ROUTE
We took this concept further by providing more information on integrated app results, such as reviews and ratings. Merchants would also have a virtual business profile that remembers the apps they use and recommends similar ones.
3.0 SECOND SQUARE ROUTE
Expanding on the business profile, merchants would now be able to input and change business information as well as input their business goals for a more tailored experience. Square Route would recommend apps based on similar businesses using the app, as well as the personal goals input by Square merchants.