In 2017, as I walked around the city of San Francisco, I saw a handful of people walking around sipping bubble teas. That's when I had an idea: "Wouldn't be great if you could easily make your own bubble tea at home?" So begun my journey of making Instant Boba.
First I designed the landing page and ran ads.
But right when the customers selected the "Choose box" button, I prompted them with a modal asking for their zip code, told them that it isn't available in their area and asked them to enter their email addresses so the customers can get notified once it is available in their area. And to my surprise, people loved the idea and we had a lot of traction both on the landing page and the ads.
Once I had the logistics setup for operation (commercial kitchen and licensing), I designed the rest of the purchase funnel and tested with friends and family to get their feedback on the end-to-end experience.
Other than the contents of the items shifted inside while being delivered, overall experience was "smooth" and frictionless.
Once I solved the packaging problem, InstantBoba was officially launched!
I wanted to make it simple for the users when customizing the flavors (we had 9!), so I removed numerical customizations by only allowing flavor selections.
Once the business was up and running, I noticed there were many leads that didn't complete the purchase: They would create an account, but the moment they are on the checkout page they dropped.
At this point I knew that they had created account entry, but dropped once they were on the checkout page. So the problems were either 1) sticker shocked by the shipping and taxes added at the checkout process and / or 2) got distracted and left.
Since problem 1 was a harder issue to fix and I didn't want reduce the pricing to cut into our margin just yet, so I decided to address the 2nd problem by combining the two middle steps:
So the new checkout page will ask for password at the bottom as optional steps. And by capturing emails at the top, even if the customer didn't complete the purchase, I was able to reach out to them with offers and feedback.
We also added a PayPal payment method as research showed that it increases e-commerce conversions singnificantly. Since it didn't require a lot of engineering resources we went ahead and implemented it. This paired with the new simplified flow had reduced the churn significantly.
In the effort to further improve the experience and identify any other frictions, I then reached out to customers to ask for feedback. Notably I was able to validate my first concern in churn around pricing.
One way to solve this by design was to add shipping and pricing in the cart stage from the get-go, but it would increase the risk of potential customers leaving the site without entering any of their information. At least in the existing system we were able to capture customer information to reach back out later on.
So in the end I addressed the problems around pricing by 1) offering a fixed shipping rate for small boxes, and 2) offering marketing campaigns where I sourced custom boba mixing bottles to improve the cooking experience and by offering those as complimentary gift with the purhase of large boxes, both volume and quantity per order increased.
Once everything was running smoothly, I was finding ways to offer surprise and delight to the customer experience. I wanted the customers to feel the personal touch, and given our user demographics (age 13-18, female), I started shipping handwritten thank you cards and a complimentary laptop stickers with every order.
There's always ways to improve the customer experience even you think you've addressed them all. By understanding who our customers are and their behaviours using data, I was able to address the problems one by one and in the end create a great customer experience. And even add delight & surprise!