In the unprecedented summer of 2020, I was working as a Product Design Intern at Square on the Retail team. There I was designing future-facing features on the Retail POS app.
My work focused on how Square can provide a robust multi-location ordering system so that small, medium and large retail businesses could order items for their customers from any of their locations and always “complete the sale.”
From seller interviews, we identified a recurring pain point: the Square for Retail platform limited our sellers' ability to complete the sale. Merchants were limited to selling the stock only available at their current store location and even if there was stock available at another store, there was no seamless process within the POS system to order/sell that item (inability to create a cross-location order).
From a user experience perspective, this caused a lot of friction for our sellers as the only work around was to hope they set up an online store with Square, exit the POS app and open up their webstore app to manually create an order there.
From a business perspective, the lack of seamless omnichannel selling caused a lot of our larger merchants to churn to our competitors.
From a product perspective, I wanted to introduce cross-location ordering to empower retailers to order items for their customers from any of their locations and always “complete the sale.”
From an overall business perspective, I wanted this project to lay the foundation of Square for Retail’s multi-location offering to stand out from the competition
I first explored two distinct ways to create a cross-location order. One idea was to utilize the existing pattern of creating an order at the cart level since retailers would be familiar with the flow and thus, not require a new mental model.
Another idea was to implement order creation at the item level. The idea was that order metadata would be attached to items so that in the future, if we decided to allow for carts filled with items coming from multiple different locations, the transition would be seamless. Ultimately, the potential future benefits were not worth it, so I made the decision to keep the existing pattern.
A key aspect of cross-location ordering is deciding where to fulfill the item from; retailers sometimes have many different stores and warehouses. The fulfill from screen is meant to surface the order's stock information for the retailer and enable them to make the key decision of whether or not to fulfill the item from another location.
I drew inspiration from the invoice designs that already exist within Square POS. They do a great job in surfacing key information within a small form factor.
Once a retailer is given the neccessary information from the "Fulfill From" screen, they need to be able to actually change the location of where the item will be fulfilled from. The "Change Location" screen is meant to empower retailers with the knowledge of how much stock retailers have in each of their connected stores or warehouses.
The "Review Order" screen served as the final checkpoint for a retailer in the order creation flow. The goal of the screen was to give retailers one last look at all the relevant details of the order to confirm their correctness.
After several rounds of user testing, I finally ironed out all the details and landed on a design that tested well with our retailers. Merchants loved that this highly-requested feature was finally being worked on and found the design intuitive.
I then worked closely with the Android and iOS engineering teams to plan out the development and roll out plan. We collaborated on building out the neccessary components and modifying the designs to accomodate for the technical nuances of each platform. Cross-location orders should be coming in Q4 2021.
Transitioning from designing for ecommerce to designing for brick and mortar retail taught me a lot. I previously had written off in-store retail, thinking it was a dying channel, but the pandemic and meeting merchants gave me a new perspective. Nothing matches the experience of shopping in-store and the human connection it provides.
Additionally, I learned how complex in-store retail is and how legacy systems underserved retailers that cannot afford the enterprise-level contracts. I got to see first-hand how valuable disruptive such as Square for Retail's POS are in empowering underserved communities.