Product Information System Redesign
Prepare to rebuild on-site search and product detail pages by restructuring product data and upgrading the internal Product Information Management (PIM) system.
With the goal of providing a holistic view of what data we should be collecting about the various types of product sold, I did four things:
Documented Existing Data
Because the existing system did not have any documentation, I began by defining all of the existing data points and mapping them to our product types by the help of the Product Information Team.
Interviewed Customers and Stakeholders
I spoke with customers and the website's primary internal users about how they interacted with on-site search filters.
Existing Best Practices
I reviewed existing white papers to make sure we were incorporating known best practices for search experiences and product information.
I catalogued what attributes competitors in the space were providing for their customers in terms of search filters and product details.
Internal User Testing
Getting this data model correct was important for saving time and energy in implementation and training, so I took the time before implementation to vet the data model with the primary users — the Product Information Team.
Walking through various product examples exposed a few places we had missed necessary use cases for some products — allowing us to refactor the data model now instead of refactoring the implementation later.
Throughout the process I vetted the data shape with our developers to be sure it would be supported by the new platform. As implementation got rolling, that was mostly proven true, but we quickly ran into several blockers in the form of late-discovered internal systems that needed to be supported with the old data model. Through small batch testing we managed to incorporate most of the data changes, but the process was much slower than anticipated.
In addition to the data model, I designed spreadsheets that integrated with the new system and allowed the Product Information Team to automate the initial data entry for product. These spreadsheets ultimately decreased data entry time by about 70%, freeing up resources to other necessary e-commerce product functions.
What I Learned
Make sure all the right people are included in discovery. Several of the major challenges in this project related to key technical stakeholders not being included in the early discovery process. Discovery is rarely perfect, but having the right people in the conversation makes a huge difference.