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September 7, 2018

How do you test the experience of your store terminals?

Steps, methods and tips to test and optimize the user experience on your digital screens, smart windows and connected terminals in-store. Optimizing omnichannel user experiences is an emerging UX trend, one with the biggest potential for businesses.

The digitization of sales floors is accelerating

Internet users research and plan their purchases on the web before visiting stores. In fact, the IDC Futurescape 2016 study shows that 50% of purchases are influenced by digital.

Beyond stores, all areas open to the public are impacted: cinemas, airports, museums, train stations, amusement parks, parking lots, restaurants, etc.  All have the same challenge of improving the UX (user experience), the fluidity of customer interactions and profitability.

To support - rather than to suffer - this groundswell of digitizing behaviors, retailers are currently working on connected terminals, touch screens, tablets and intelligent digital displays.

They are considerable investments, and the classic web-marketing tools are not often suitable. So how do you test and improve the usability of these digital interfaces within stores?

Conduct a field study in advance

There's nothing like immersion in the digital device's actual setting.

Observe behaviors, conduct individual interviews, and have visitors fill out questionnaires. The challenge is to identify the expectations, motivations, barriers, wishes and behaviors of your (future) customers.

If the terminals are already installed and you're dealing with a redesign or optimization, simply add a dose of observation around the user experience and users' interactions with the interfaces. Pay close attention to all their reactions - both positive and negative. Ask them questions.

You can manage this step on your own, called an "onsite" study, or you can outsource it to a supplier specializing in this field, in order to save time and ensure quality data collection and analysis.

Test the UX from the wireframe phase

You can first test your wireframes ("wire" mockups).  It's quite obvious but this step is sometimes forgotten by retailers.

At this stage, you're dealing with just a prototype, but it's already interesting to collect feedback from future users, as well as from your colleagues. For external interviews, you can combine Skype (for quantity and speed) with face-to-face for experience and feelings.

An interesting idea is to submit these wireframes to an ergonomist, who can analyze them in light of the ergonomic standards of the web and the sector.

User testing of animated mock-ups

The second step is testing animated mock-ups. This is a very important step. It's the last chance for you to listen to the customer before beginning major development!

With an animated mock-up, you will have something that is sufficiently close to the final version for real users to evaluate.

You have a choice of collection methods: in the lab or remote.

  • In-lab testing allows you to observe the user behind a two-way mirror and film their reactions. This method has certain limitations, as explained in this article.
  • Remote user testing (at home or in-store) has the advantage of minimizing costs and collection bias by allowing you to obtain a significant number of respondents quickly and throughout several regions or countries (ex: study completed in seven days with Ferpection). The disadvantage is the lack of direct contact with the user. To compensate for this, you can complete the interviews via Skype (for screen and webcam sharing) with the Ferpection testers of your choice.

Testing a prototype in the store

Once in the testing phase, it is strongly recommended that you test the beta version in one or more pilot sales areas, ideally on a terminal or screen. The goal is to detect problems with the roll-out to the entire network.

A user test with customers and prospective customers allows you to identify problems with usability, understanding of features and capabilities, as well as bugs and display issues. All from the point of view of the "end user".

Ferpection testers throughout France upload user feedback and screenshots via their smartphones. And you can, of course, be present for some of this live testing, and speak directly with these testers.

Plan a functional test before launch

As for a website or an app, plan some functional tests. Put together by your employees or an expert supplier, they are useful for verifying all customer interactions from a technical point of view on the interface being launched or redesigned.

Test after a retail outlet launch

In most cases, it is generally recommended to do a pilot on some retail outlets. The challenge is to measure disparities, understand the experience, perceptions, reactions of consumers and, of course, to identify usability and functional improvements to make before large-scale deployment.

At this step, user testing should be done in-store. A remote UX testing solution such as Ferpection allows you to recruit testers in relevant cities. They use their smartphones to record problems encountered as well as positive feedback directly in the interface in SaaS mode.

Toward the continued improvement of in-store terminals and screens

Once the large-scale deployment has taken place, enroll in a continuous improvement process by listening to your users and customers. Expand the sample and frequency of testing. Beyond qualitative testing - the only valid source during the launch/redesign phase - which remains very useful after deployment, think about analytics as well, about AB testing and onsite surveys. This helps complement the qualitative data with quantitative data.

Why do we do all this? What's the ROI?

The challenge of these tests is, of course, the profitability of your investment in terms of budget and time, which can be huge in terms of hardware for digitizing your sales floors.

Beyond that, the challenge is the profitability and the long-term health of stores. To miss this phygital shift for supermarkets, retail chain stores, shopping malls, cinemas, airports, banks, telecom stores, etc. is a risk that's well internalized by the leaders of these companies.

There are not many studies on the subject, but in drawing a parallel with websites and mobile apps, they indicate that user testing, on average, raises CA by 30%, satisfaction by 40%, and the likelihood of repurchase by 9%. Experts agree on an optimal investment of 10% of the overall budget for a user testing project. Details and sources on the Ferpection blog.

You might also want to read this concrete example of omnichannel user experience optimization with our customer Fnac Darty.

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Gregoire Devoucoux du Buysson

Gregoire Devoucoux du Buysson

Grégoire is COO at Ferpection and a true believer of the power of great UX and innovative organisations. He writes about new ways of researching users, product management evolution and the importance of culture for start-ups.

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