ShopAlong - An Online Co Shopping Experience
Shopping is a mix of buying and social experience. Shopping together is much more straightforward, and fun when you are in a store, and your friend is physically present, however recreating that experience online is often broken (and in most cases virtually nonexistent).

ShopAlong is a co-shopping solution that makes shopping with friends online fun and easy.
WHERE

Internship at Walmart Labs

In the summer of 2015, I joined Walmart Labs as Interaction Designer Intern, with the Innovation@Labs team. The innovation labs team worked as an idea incubator for Walmart, the world's largest global retailer.

The creative brief for the internship was to build a collaborative shopping experience online.

The team wanted me to explore a collaborative shopping experience online for Walmart. Having an online presence, they were keen on integrating the social aspect of shopping to their online platform. For many shopping is a social experience, people like to show and take opinion before making purchases. However, shopping online often happens alone on your phone or computer and feels disconnected.

Walmart wanted to bridge this gap of shopping between the real world and online; with the effort to replicate the social experience of shopping in a physical store to the online shopping experience.

My role
I worked as an intern with Walmart for six months under the guidance of 2 design mentors and 1 UX manager. This was an individual project, and I had complete ownership of it. I worked on every phase of the project, right from conducting user research, wireframing, visual design, and prototyping.

METHODOLOGY

Double diamond process

I used the trusted Double Diamond process to guide me through the four months of the project lifecycle.

Diverge to discover the problem space by doing user interviews, market research and more.

Converge
to define the exact problem to solve, once I had a clear understanding of the user needs and behaviors.

Diverge
again to develop concepts and ideate different design solutions.

Converge
one last time to deliver the final solution and create wireframes, visual design and prototypes to achieve the final realization of the solution.

RESEARCH

Primary and secondary research

I started by understanding how E-commerce industry works. As part of my secondary research, I read multiple research papers, online journals and gathered data to redefine the project brief. 

Once my brief was defined, I began with my primary research. I conducted around 25 user interviews over Skype, in person and over phone calls. My research questions revolved around how, when and why people co shop?

How people co-shop online?

Co-shopping online is a broken and fragmented experience. People have a lot of hacks and different mediums they use to share and get opinion from their friends and family.

Research insights

Below are a list of insights showing when people co-shop and how it aids their shopping experience.

Shopping for apparel is the most frequent use-case when users need a second opinion– they choose to co-shop. Hence, as a product team we chose to focus our efforts on a fashion/ apparel shopping app.

CONCEPT

Integrating Social Graph with Shopping Experience

ShopAlong is a platform where everything from sharing and validating options to shortlisting and buying that perfect dress happens at a single place. ShopAlong is a one-stop-shop for shopping with your Bestie. 

It knows when your best friend's birthday is coming up. It also knows what they like. Create a Group Chat, discuss and split amounts to make group gifting easier than ever before.

DESIGN PROCESS

Information Architecture

Picturing this hybrid world of shopping and social, I mapped out the discrete aspects of the two and the interplay between them.

Shopping:
 Explore, search, shopping lists, checkout, payment, etc.
Social: Contacts, chat, notifications, stickers, etc.

I expanded on this information architecture as the concept evolved over time.

User flows

I expanded on this information architecture as the concept evolved. We identified two primary use cases when collaborative shopping could be most meaningful.

Besties Flow
2 best friends who always shop together use shop Along to help each other shop for an upcoming trip.

Gifting Flow
A group of friends uses ShopAlong to buy a birthday gift for a common friend.

Interface evolution

From wireframe to paper sketches to visual design to prototype.

The new shopping experience

DESIGN SOLUTION

Features

Browsing
Shop Feed of ShopAlong gives product suggestions for you and your friends. 
Browse latest collections of your favorite brands, follow celeb styles and latest trends.

Send to a friend
Share the dress with your friend and start a conversation. 
Quick access to the conversation by tapping the conversation chat head.

Recommendations for your bestie
ShopAlong understand the people in your life. It makes product recommendation for you and for your friends/family you shop with.

Conversation View
Share dresses, chat, recommend, and shortlist them all at same place.

Quick Emotions
Express what you feel in a fun way with a Like Meter and a Cost Meter
Tap + to shortlist.

Shortlist
Multiple options can get overwhelming. Shop better using shortlist view to make purchase decision quicker. 
Access your shortlists from directly within your conversations.

Create group
Friend's birthday coming up? Create a group with all your friends and find the right gift. Together. 
Not sure what to buy? ShopAlong knows the 'Taste Profile' of your friends just the way it knows yours.

Cost splitting
Convenient cost splitting options built within checkout. No more money hassles when buying gifts.

FINAL CONCEPT VIDEOS

Shop for yourself or for a friend

RETROSPECTIVE

In the years since..

This project was done two years ago, a bit ahead of its time before chat bots became a thing.

Many apps have started incorporating messaging into their platform, similar to the concept proposed in ShopAlong. A retail giant in India called Flipkart (similar to Amazon/Walmart) launched its mobile app with integrated messaging within its shopping app. Instagram has had "Direct" messaging in its photo sharing app. YouTube integrated messaging into its video platform.

MORE WORK