B2B product design
Have you bought a Gucci belt from FARFETCH? If you have, you are one of many! It is one of the most popular items sold globally.
Most people know FARFETCH (FF) as a luxury fashion marketplace, but they don't know that what distinguishes it from the likes of Matches or Net-a-porter is that FF doesn't own the stock it sells. I learned very quickly that an expansive complex technology platform enables this business model to work. FF is on a mission to be the global platform for luxury.
I joined the platform product design team at the end of 2019, only a couple of months before the first covid pandemic lockdown in London. My team was already operating in a distributed collaboration model from offices in London, Porto and Lisbon but we soon learned how much harder mandatory remote working would be. I attribute the more flexible and empathetic mindset I have developed as part of my management style to how I adapted in 2020.
This synopsis gives a high level overview of one of the projects I drove in a leadership capacity. If you would like to find out more about how I manage teams, get in touch and I would be happy to take you through a case study of how I work as a manager.
For context, FF Platform Solutions provides white labelled technology solutions for brands and boutiques based on the capabilities of the FF platform. You can learn about the partners who benefit from the scalability and modularity of the platform to get a sense of the breadth of use cases the platform is evolving to serve.
From small boutiques to multi-brand department stores and e-concessions, I joined at a time when our product approach needed to shift rapidly to serve more complex use cases. We referred to this new mindset as enterprise readiness.
"Luxury New Retail" became a catch-all term for projects which enabled the scale of our innovative capabilities. From new API integration options for big partners to omni-channel returns and exchanges for boutiques, our annual planning became harder and harder to prioritise and resource efficiently.
I managed 5 designers who worked with half a dozen product managers across different products. My Head of Product and I knew we needed to visualise the cross-vertical impacts of over a dozen initiatives on the seller experience, in order to define and communicate the business challenge clearly for our product, design and engineering teams.
In order to identify the gaps in our capabilities which would need to be filled in order to bring the vision of "Luxury New Retail" to life for the FF marketplace and FPS partners, I started by creating artefacts like the journey map above. I needed to quickly understand impacts in order to facilitate discovery conversations between product, research, design and engineering. "Discovery" would need to be executed in parallel due to the tight timelines.
It became evident the scope would impact every design team. I created a new cadence of workshops for design leads to collaborate, creating a matrix which mapped known impacts against key user journeys and brought to life "unknowns".
My colleague saw an opportunity to connect user journeys together to extend the reach of our exercise, which was an outcome of great teamwork. We began socialising the matrix with cross-discipline colleagues and they contributed to it using Miro to give feedback.
The knowledge we gathered added new layers of information which we then synthesised in order to be confident it was sufficient for a designer to use as a mini brief for the definition stage.
I facilitated conversations to understand overlaps in scope and provided reassurance for designers to make assumptions in order to move forward with concepting. Mocks varied in fidelity depending on the urgency to estimate engineering effort.
In top-down driven projects like this, I seek to promote a design philosophy which focuses on providing clarity, consistency and flexibility when designing for a growing user base. I empower my designers to think independently to mitigate new risks to the current experience and create unintentional usability problems.
During this process I learned we bit off more than we could chew the first time round, and quickly required a second round of planning to try and 'slice the elephant' for 2023+ roadmaps. This process and artefacts can now be picked up and leveraged in future planning cycles to provide continuity between teams.