Exploring Special Orders

To respond to the company’s goal of attracting bigger customers in a wider range of industries and helping them “never miss a sale”, our team was given a mandate to explore the ways merchants handle special orders. In close cooperation with PO, I analyzed the ways our customers approach and use special orders (mental modal) and studied the current user flows. The HMW statements for the key opportunity area were formulated, opening the door to solution discovery.

As a product designer on the team, I worked on UX research strategy and execution, high-level user journeys, and content models. Following the UX research, I built current user flows and blue prints, analyzed the results, and formulated HMW statements for the problems defined as main opportunities.

UX Research – discovering our users

UX Research goals

1. We wanted to understand the main goals/jobs, needs, tasks, processes, terminology of the users; we wanted to know their mental model independent of any tools.
2. Our second focus was on how users use the POS when managing their SO, what are the pains points and workarounds.

Research type, Interview questions

For this exploratory research we decided to conduct user interviews (in-person, qualitative research to discover “why and how”). We prioritised open-ended questions, adopted semi-structured approach, used critical incident, 5 why’s and other techniques.


Merchants from various industries who use SO. We got an incredible response rate from the users which proved the importance of this project.

Conducting and analyzing interviews

Following the best practices, both of us conducted the interviews, one person leading the discussion and the second taking part in the discussion and taking notes. All interviews were recorded, transcript and tagged in Dovetail. After each interview we had a debrief session, when we mapped the user responses and flows, marked the pain points and workarounds, put down our notes, insights, key quotes, questions not answered, etc. We shared and discussed thoughts and impressions, noticing overlaps and patterns.


We defined four user types based on the importance of SO for their business. Based on user interviews I could map the merchant journey when handling a Special Order, including users goals/jobs, steps to get it done, personas, and specific customer and merchant needs at each step.

Customer / Merchant journey

Key opportunity area – getting more details

After UX research I could map a good number of current user the flows, main pain points and workarounds. We applied the opportunity score analysis to the discovered pain points of using the POS app and the step of ordering products for SO proved to be the key opportunity area.

More research and analysis was done for the step of ordering products for SO, and I could define two main user scenarios, confirm the needs , map the content models and in collaboration with PO and stakeholders formulate the HMW statements.

Looking ahead

Formulating HMW we were opening up the problem statements for targeted and efficient solution discovery.

In preparation for solution exploration, in order to efficiently prioritize the solutions I recommended to:
– conduct benchmark study
– conduct ux research and map current flows and blueprints for the step of receiving the products for SO
collect more data about customers that use SO (business size, industry, SO importance, etc.)

These data would ensure that the problems and solutions we go for would reflect business goals and bring max value to the customer base.


I really liked the interview/debrief method we used during this problem discovery. It was efficient, insightful, gave us a very good understanding of the problem space, served as a great tool for communicating with stakeholders and conducting design reviews, and set a good start to problems synthesis and solution exploration.

Here are some interesting articles on the topic:
Nick Babich ” How to Conduct a User Interview….”
Nikki Anderson “Jobs to be Done 101: Your Interviewing Style Primer”
Nikki Anderson “Need to Speed up Synthesis? Enter the Team Debrief”
How Might We Statements: A Powerful Way to Turn Insights into Opportunities

Due to company policies and confidentiality agreements, I do not share all visual materials for this project.