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- A service that rehumanizes shopping

January- August, 2014

This is the MHCI capstone project at Carnegie Mellon University, which spanned eight months and covered the entire design process from research to final prototype. Our clients, Google, asked us to re-imagine a future where sales associates remain at the heart of brick-and mortar shopping experience. 

Teammates: Ramya Mallya, Jonathan Brown, Eugenia Lee, Pavel

My Role: UX Designer | Research Lead

Contribution: UX Design | UX Research 

Process: Research | Analysis | Synthesis | Visioning | Iterative Prototyping | Presentation to Google

The result of this project is crafting an in-store experience with Google's deep data that empowers sales associates to guide customers towards a well-made choice.



We spent 4 months deep in research to seek out design opportunities in the retail environment. We started by studying psychology and retail trends in books and research papers, and then moved into the field to observe shopping interactions in person. 


We distilled our findings into essential points by building models of their data and sorting notes into affinity groupings. 

Analysis & Synthesis

The customer’s shopping journey map identifies the actions, motivation and thoughts of a customer as he goes through all the steps involved in making a purchase.


What We Found

After an extensive process of research, we found some key insights that informed our ideation.

The Third Aisle

Retailers are trying to increase their instore selection without increasing their physical footprint. Sales Associate use the point of sale terminal to sell products available online or in other stores. This process is not collaborative as the screens are made for single users.

Omni-Channel Retail

Retailers are trying to seamlessly integrate their customers' shopping experience across all retail channels - in-store, online and mobile. However, they are not able to leverage customers' online shopping profiles in-store, and provide personalized service.

Sales Associate Build Long-Lasting Relationship with Customers

Through repeated interactions with customers, sales associates develop a knowledge base of personal details that can't be captured online. However, current relationship management system exist on single screen terminals that face the sales associate. Manipulating these system to enter customer information requires sales associate to shift her attention away from the customer. 

Shoppers Do their Homework

Our research showed that shoppers spent a considerable amount of time researching products online before making a purchase in a brick and motar store. However, when they come into the store, they have no way to share these research with the store, other than telling the associates verbally.

We filtered a initial set of 48 ideas into eight final visions. We generated storyboards to validate our concept with customers, sales associates and retail executives. 



We developed Opus through an iterative process. After validating our ideas by creating storyboards and showing them to stakeholders, we started to create iterative prototypes to 
continuously refine our design.


Iterative Prototyping

Low-Fidelity Prototype

We created a paper prototype to test the physical form factor of the Opus Countertop. This low-fidelity prototype underwent two iterations, each testing a different scenario and retail vertical.


I kind of like being across rather than side by side; I feel a little pressured when the sales associate is right next to me. 
                                                       Tiffany, Shopper

Mid-Fidelity Prototype

We created a mid-fidelity prototype on a 39" non-interactive television screen and simulated interactions by connecting it to a computer.

The mid-fidelity prototype tested the layout of the screen elements, the standard features, and the basic interactions.


I like how it shows everything in one place; And I like being able to touch it. But I wouldn’t like just the counter or just the product but like the combination.


                                                   Jeff, Shopper Participant

High-Fidelity Prototype

The final prototype features functional software running on a 55" touch screen. We brought this prototype into Macy's Department Store to test the Opus Countertop with sales associates in a real store setting.

I like the technology. I like the idea of going and finding the person. For us, I think it’s very cool. 
                                            Joyce, Sales Associate Participant

This is such a good tool for my sales pitch.
                                           Linda, Sales Associate Participant

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