Inventory Sizes & Colors
Mobile Selling Assistant
REI's 145+ stores have an internal mobile tool that is utilized by more than 10,000+ employees called the Mobile Selling Assistant (MSA). This mobile POS device consists of an iPod Touch that sits in a Verifone sled and can take credit card payments and scan barcodes. Based on qualitative feedback from our employees, we learned that selecting sizes and colors of specific product SKU's was becoming a problematic interaction that was hindering employees' abilities to quickly address store customer needs, while costing them valuable time and productivity.
We encountered several pain points with this particular interaction and heard feedback from our employees on a regular basis:
Lack of broad size and color visibility at the product SKU level
Employee had to choose sizes to enable viewing all the colors and choose colors to enable viewing sizes, as a stepped interaction. This cumbersome limitation never allowed employees to see sizes and colors at the same time, thus requiring more taps and more time.
We knew that employees were utilizing another screen to accomplish a similar task, the Style Availability screen. It was a more widely used and popular workaround. The employee can see all the sizes and colors on one screen, and we weren't leveraging this learning.
We also observed yet another workaround interaction. By expanding the scope of the SKU number (10 digits) to the style number (6 digits) at the next level in the hierarchy, the employees were doing the following:
- Employee scans product tag
- Employee deletes last 4 digits of the 10-digit SKU number in the search bar to get to the 6-digit style number
- Employee initiates searches at style level for item to view all sizes and colors of that item
"Typing can be a bit of a chore."
- REI Green Vest employee
A small group of colleagues started solving this during our quarterly Hack Days. One of my teammates was QA and a former store employee, and so I leveraged his unique perspective to better understand what would be an ideal scenario and what it would take to get there.
This improved interaction required more than a refresh of the sizes and colors area of the app. It also required understanding the entire flow for how an employee used workarounds to accomplish their tasks. We ended up starting the process of reworking the product SKU screen and re-mapping how an employee could navigate to the sizes and colors of a SKU, while also incorporating the positive aspects of the style availability screen into the design.
In addition to our solution, we needed to also account for a few edge case products:
After a couple of rounds of iteration, our improved interaction became a reality less than 6 months later when it was released onto the MSA device. This was a win for a small interaction on this enterprise platform with an unheard of turnaround release time!