Latest In Engineering
Apr 20, 2021

How Our Design Team Learns From Our Merchants

At Shippo, we’ve been working tirelessly to improve our product for the benefit of our merchants. With a ton of different types of users and individual use cases, there is no better way to continually optimize than to keep our ears low to the ground. One way we do this is by conducting user research.

The main goals of any research effort are to learn how we can impact our users in a positive way and to distill that feedback into actionable next steps. While we use a variety of research methodologies, our core focus is the same: to strive towards continuously making Shippo better for our merchants. We achieve this by:

💭 Gathering insights

On an ongoing basis, we like to check in with our users. We keep our fingers on the pulse by looping in our customer support and sales teams to make sure we’re aware of overarching themes and any common concerns from users.

To get a more thorough understanding of user needs and pain points, we conduct user interviews and surveys to gauge how our users feel about certain aspects of our product. This part of the process is crucial in helping us form plans and product roadmaps for Shippo.

Once it’s safe (post-covid), we also plan to run contextual inquiry studies to get a holistic understanding of how our users operate. Contextual inquiry involves researchers from Shippo coming onsite to a merchant’s fulfillment center and observing their end-to-end process. This helps us get a complete picture of user needs and to see how Shippo fits into their workflow.

Example: From a recent survey on Automations, we were able to prioritize automation rule actions like assigning service level based on direct customer feedback.

🏆 Validating designs

Once we have a solid understanding of where we can make improvements, we work to design and test new ideas, iterating as necessary. Testing a prototype is done through usability testing, where we watch users complete tasks on new designs to ensure they’re user-friendly before sending them out into the wild.

Another way we test designs is through A/B testing – simultaneously launching variations of designs and watching which options perform better. This is a great way to test designs on the fly without too much intrusion on the merchants’ day-to-day activities.

An example of how we group insights after usability testing.

Example: We launched a mini-A/B test to see if adding an extra privacy policy acknowledgment line (w/ checkbox) to our sign-in page would affect the registration rate. It did – so we reworked the experience in a way that caused less friction and wasn’t so intimidating to new users.

🔎 Analyzing results

As we make improvements to Shippo, we monitor analytics data. Analytics help us see trends in usage and experience throughout the product. Every time our users interact with Shippo, it’s likely their activity is helping us make important decisions about Shippo’s future.

Example: After making some design adjustments, we noticed a decrease in users creating labels in batch. After investigating further, we realized we needed to rework our batch experience to be more user-friendly and easily accessible.

Example: We noticed that after signing up, many of our users jumped immediately into Settings to add their shipping defaults and preferences. This helped us reconsider what we need to include in our introductory wizard and improvements have been scoped for 2021.

Conducting research is a cyclical process that happens before, during, and after any new features are launched at Shippo. User research is conducted primarily by our designers and product managers, but we share our results across the org so all of our employees can be connected to our users’ experience. This helps bond us to our common mission: democratizing the shipping process and helping our users achieve their shipping goals.


Are you a Shippo user and interested in participating in user research? Drop us a line.

Are you a designer interested in working in a role that puts the users first? Check out our open opportunities.

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