Tuft & Needle Retail Checkout

Brooke Kao
Apr 15 · 3 min read

Redesigning beyond aesthetics to context, utility and speed

My role: Research and Design Lead

Team makeup: One project manager, three software engineers, retail stakeholder

What I did: Uncovered pain points for retail workers through generative studies, created roadmap of opportunities, evaluative testing

Image for post
Image for post

Tuft & Needle is a mattress, bedding and bedroom company that’s always been online-first. When they began opening retail stores a few years ago, they relied on checking out orders through the system on their dotcom website. This process became slow very fast, so a specific checkout app was created for retail. Design-wise, they thought to continue to riff on the checkout on dotcom. No-brainer, right?

Wrong. Even as an separate app, checkout proved to be a slow and cumbersome process for the Retail Experience (RX) folks. Why?

Context matters. When you buy something online, most likely you’re looking on your computer or your phone, getting enticed by big images, discounts and possibly comparison shopping. As an RX-er, you do none of those things in the store.

Image for post
Image for post
Retail Experience folks (RX-ers) smile for the camera.

We knew we needed to streamline the checkout process, and we had a vague idea of the solution, but we needed to observe what was actually happening to empathize with RX. With the engineering team, we conducted contextual inquiries with the RX and discovered a number of issues.

Image for post
Image for post
The before: pretty, but cumbersome.
  1. While large images and large type contrast on the existing checkout were aesthetically pleasing, they proved to be unnecessary and result in much more scrolling than necessary to find an item.
  2. The large real estate of each product also forces the RX-er to remember where exactly on the page they have to scroll to purchase a specific item. The navigation categories are too broad.
  3. Return customers are frustrated by having to give their shipping information all over again.
  4. Customers frequently request specific delivery dates for their items. There’s no ability to do that in the app, so RX needs race to a separate website and request a new date, all while a customer breathes down their neck.

We ran a kickoff with Retail and Engineering stakeholders to develop a roadmap for Retail Checkout opportunities.

Image for post
Image for post
A diverging activity where the cross functional team sketched out their ideas
Image for post
Image for post
A converging activity where we sketched a task flow of a proposed new experience. Ideas were captured on posts-its, then prioritized by impact and effort.
Image for post
Image for post
Significantly reducing the size of product information and hiding behind an accordion helps RX-ers find an item quickly. We also enhanced the product page with more available shipping options.
Image for post
Image for post
Pulling up previous customer info allows the RX-er to skip the cumbersome process of typing out shipping information.
Image for post
Image for post
RX-er can request new delivery dates during the delivery step of checkout, eliminating need to rush to CX admin after an order is placed.

Decreased the time an RX-er takes to place an order, leaving the RX-er more time to interact with customers.

Increased overall RX-er happiness. Seriously! They told us, unprompted:

Image for post
Image for post

Suitcase Words

Stories of Brooke Kao's work on research, design and finding the why.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store