I don’t know about you, but when the inspiration strikes for me to tackle one of those neglected home projects, I’ve got to act on it…fast. But running around the aisles of my local hardware store trying to gather all the tools necessary to complete that project is half the battle–and sometimes stressful enough for me to abandon the project for another month or two because I just couldn’t find the right grain of sandpaper. Clearly I’m not the only one with this hardware store fatigue, because our favorite big-box stores like Lowe’s are making mobile apps to make that Saturday morning project a lot easier to tackle. And that’s why I was so excited to sit down and chat with Taylor Webster. He’s the UX and Design Manager for Lowe’s mobile projects, and he knows a thing or two about taking customer feedback into consideration and iterating based on what he and his team learn. Here’s a bit of our conversation–I have a feeling that all marketers will be able to learn something about taking on a customer-centric mindset when designing out mobile projects.
Lumavate’s VP of Marketing, Stephanie Cox: So when you think about mobile at Lowe’s, how do you think about what you should do at a really high level? Because there’s so much you can do in the retail space!
Lowe’s UX and Design Manager, Taylor Webster: You have to start at the customer. That’s a way to really stay focused–what are the customer pain points? What does the customer really need? Of course, you want to sometimes “leap frog” over expectations and give the customer something they don’t quite know that they need yet, but if you’re a retailer, you need to sell products really well, and the way to do that is to make sure you’re meeting your customer’s needs and reducing as much friction as possible. Maybe that means making sure your product information is right by talking to all the different departments across your company so that you’re streamlining your information in the best way possible. It’s so important to keep the customer at the center.
SC: How do you guys balance what ends up in your native mobile app, and what’s meant more for your website?
TW: That is a challenge for us. We typically at a really high level draw the line at: what can a mobile app do that the web can’t? But then there are the core elements like product information, pricing, and purchasing that are going to be core across all of our interfaces, and those need to work seamlessly across all interfaces. But a big way we decide what needs to go where is by asking the customers. We follow them around the store and see what actual tasks they’re trying to complete and what pain points they run into. And then we look at all of the channels and determine which is the best to smooth that over and make the experience as frictionless as possible.
SC: So when you think about measuring success overall at a high level, what are the metrics that you’re thinking about for your native mobile apps?
TW: We like to take our products out into the wild and actually interview customers, and get their feedback. We track their reviews and we read them diligently, and we also look at numbers like downloads and ratings and other metrics, then we put it all together to see if what we’re delivering is actually meeting the demand of our customers. If it’s not, then they’ll tell us and we react. We have a really good process of iterating and reacting and trying to give our customers what they need.
SC:How do you think about evaluating what new mobile tech you should think about and what’s just not ready yet?
TW: It starts at your core customer base, and what your industry is. Strip it all away–ask, “what is my main purpose here in my industry?”. For me at Lowe’s, it’s to sell products. From a digital standpoint, a big customer need is to be able to visualize products. So AR is important to us to help online customers with fit and color. But at the end the day, are our customers ready to think about it in that light? We personally haven’t really seen the adoption enough to say that customers are quite ready to use that technology for that purpose. But on the flip side, for example, the integration of Touch ID was huge for us. Because anything you can do to keep your customers logged in and make their experience frictionless, the better. We try to find ways to make our mobile experiences more of a tool and less of the toy. So staying focused on our main purpose in our business plan is how we make decisions like that. Apply new tech in a way that actually improves the overall experience–not that it just makes something nice or better.