The winner of Go Bold Day, Summer 2020
Hi, I’m Zarema! I am a Quality Assurance Engineer at Mercari, a first-time participant in Go Bold Day, and a member of the most recent winning group. Today I’m going to tell you about how we came up with the idea and made it a (demo-ready) reality!
Since the pandemic started, like many of you, my use of online shopping has increased exponentially. I started ordering at least 8-10 items per week — mostly kids’ items, toys, and clothing. I found myself purchasing the items that had videos on their listings, because I was able to see how the item really looked, including its sizing, function, and quality.
Also, I buy and sell online on Mercari (obviously). I remember the struggle of one seller, who found out that the leather skirt I had just purchased was damaged before shipping the item. She couldn’t explain where and how exactly it was damaged. As a seller, I’ve struggled as well: most of the time buyers ask about the sizing of items (e.g. purses, toys), and I am not really into measuring every single item I list. So I had to take another picture with a water bottle or banana for size comparison… It’s pretty annoying. So I was thinking that having a video listing would benefit our sellers and buyers!
I started doing some research about Mercari sellers, and I found out that some sellers are already taking videos of their items and uploading them to YouTube and sharing them on social media. Some users even showcase their Mercari purchases on TikTok. People are already doing it — but not on our platform. It is undeniable that video listing is one of the most needed features on Mercari.
Back in the days before COVID-19 started, when we were still working in the office, I had already recruited Jay to be a part of my team — I already had a few ideas that I wanted to see implemented in our app and website (though not the video listing yet). A few weeks before GBD started, I listed these ideas and shared them with Jay. Honestly, I didn’t think that any of the ideas were bold enough for Go Bold Day… And so I forgot about them. However, in the lead up to GBD, Jay messaged me and said that he would love to work on Video Listing. I was so excited! He suggested that we should get Patrick on the team — multi-winner of GBD, master of iOS programming! We had a very productive meeting with the three of us. I showcased my (very) rough draft design of video listing. The team ran with the idea and immediately started improving upon it. In the past, I’ve worked with Tinnei on other projects. She’s one of our designers here at Mercari and I’ve always adored her beautiful work — so I asked her to join the team, too. Her addition to the team was a game changer! The UI and UX experience she crafted perfected the feature and we all fell in love with the mockups she created! That’s how our project started. The rest was done by my wonderful teammates — I just backed up and watched the process.
Before we began the design process, we asked ourselves, “what would video listing mean to all of our users — both buyers and sellers?” As a seller, a video can help reduce a lot of the back and forth between multiple buyers asking similar questions. And as buyer, a video can help demonstrate the authenticity of an item, so to avoid items that don’t match the need.
That being said, when thinking about adding video listings, we also had to think about both seller and buyer intent (just like what we do for many of the features on Mercari!).
On the seller side, we would need to let someone listing an item know about this new feature. The most intuitive place to add video is the camera screen. A quick prototype below shows how we can introduce the video recording feature to users on the home screen of our app. Of course, when time permits, we could also add more help tips to our interface to inform the seller why it’s good to include videos.
On the buyer side, given video is a different format, we need to make sure video is distinguishable from images. We added a search filter to make video listings easily accessible. We also made video the first frame browsing items so users get a more realistic sense of the item faster. Of course, we are making multiple assumptions here — we’ll need to test with real use cases before such a feature could be shipped to all of our users.
Under enormous time pressure, we decided to create a minimum viable product to demo the video feature. The project’s value proposition is to communicate and build trust with potential buyers before they purchase, so we started with the item description page. We created a video player and had it available front and center, so the first thing a potential buyer would see is a video showcasing the product they will receive.
In order for an online marketplace to be successful, there must be a high level of trust between buyers and sellers. On today’s second-hand online marketplaces, there is definitely some apprehension about buying a used product — especially when it’s something expensive, like a smartphone or computer. A listing with pictures can help ease some fears, but pictures can only go so far. What if the phone doesn’t charge? What if the speaker doesn’t work? These are all questions that can be answered with a short video. In a video, we can demonstrate how the device performs, as well as point out any physical imperfections that may be present. Increasing the level of trust is the end goal and a video simply helps us achieve that. The seller is able to essentially talk with potential buyers and convince them that the product is worth the money. The buyer is able to see the item in action, allowing them to have a very clear idea of what is going to be delivered. Setting the most accurate expectation of what the buyer will receive in the mail is the ultimate end goal.
So we built this demo, and the team at Mercari liked it! We were voted as the GBD winners and we hope to bring this and many of the other great ideas from GBD to our app and website in the near future. Thanks for reading!