6 Tips for Retailers Transitioning to Lean UX Practices

A strong customer experience is the best way for retailers to cultivate positive consumer opinion. While that may seem turnkey, consumers’ expectations are constantly rising; no longer can a brand provide the best customer experience within their industry – the experience must transcend through verticals and be the best ever, period. Omnichannel retailers – those that have both an online and offline component – are uniquely positioned to reach consumers wherever and however they prefer to be met: be it in-store, via an app or on a desktop.

As the nation’s largest used car retailer and Fortune 500 company, CarMax is an omnichannel retailer with an agile customer experience product development program. This means that it takes a start-up approach to developing product ideas – the “fail fast, fail cheap” model. Looking to transition to LeanUX practices, but aren’t sure where to start? Here are 6 tips to set you up for success.

Put the customer first, before the operations of the company. Many organizations have user experience (UX) design as a separate services group. Instead, businesses should make UX design a part of each product team. This allows for the group to think daily about how their product will change customers’ lives from research to rollout.

Stop talking about product development and start thinking about experiments. Product development can force scale, artificial timetables, requirements and approvals. With experiments, you can test both big and small ideas to improve the customer experience and feel confident on performance before a nationwide rollout. You may be surprised to find out how small ideas can make a large impact on revenue.

Consider the scope of a project first.  One of the first questions that you should ask is ‘how many dependencies does this project have?’ If there are many, then a high dependency project is not typically the best place to start if your organization is very structured and accustomed to the Waterfall approach. If you are transitioning to an Agile environment, it’s ideal to start with small projects and gain some key wins.

Don’t make or avoid a big bet without evaluating and testing first. Turn your ideas into a set of assumptions and hypotheses, and prioritize your assumptions. Lean UX takes intimidating, risky things and makes learning possible through small experiments conducted inexpensively in a controlled environment. If you’re going to fail, then fail fast and cheap, so you can quickly iterate to create the next, improved idea and deliver innovation to the market through low risk and effective methods.

Don’t wholesale abandon an idea that doesn’t test well. Make modifications to the test and try again with a tweaked approach. When a product fails, there’s great value in what you’ve learned from the failure. Value doesn’t just come from success, but it also comes from non-fulfillment.

Be adaptable to pivot where the customer leads you. Predicting the future is a losing game. Instead, be on top of customer needs and pain points to quickly find the solution within the technology of the moment. Whether you’re building a large software packaging or a new experience, you cannot be successful without customer feedback. By finding patterns in customer feedback, you’re able to identify areas where you can have the most immediate impact.

Bryan Ennis is Vice President of Product at CarMax.

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