Amazon PROJECTS

At Amazon, everyone is customer focused.  My responsibilities routinely included data-driven user research and testing to aid in decision making.  Working backwards from the desired customer experience, experimenting and iterating on solutions was the approach for both the customer facing experiences I delivered and the internal tools my team built. Here are some of my favorite projects:

The Cookbook: User-centered Processes and Automation
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The Category Expansion Cookbook was my team’s answer to the challenge of how to automate launching new product categories at scale. We leveraged a user-centered design approach and built mechanisms to measure and identify needed improvements.

Research Questions

  • How can we teach newly-hired international business teams to successfully launch new product categories that meet the high-bar for customer experience?

  • How can we standardize and internationalize our code, while also localizing on the front end for the customer?

  • How can we make internal tools that integrate with partner teams with minimal dependencies?

Research Methods + Design

We built our program using a metaphor of a cookbook with ~120 tasks in the recipe.  This mental model resonated with new-hire users because it eliminated the cognitive load of managing timing and identifying dependencies amongst a complex collection of partner teams. Instead of piloting our self-service program with a small project, we made the decision to pilot it in partnership with a major 1-year long expansion of the Canada website. We built iteration into the plan and evolved tools based on our partner's feedback.

Impact + What I Learned

Our self-service program led to a 50% reduction of project management resources and an increased project launch capacity to meet the pace of business.  By going 'big' with our pilot and being transparent about it, we gained trust with our Canadian partners.  We were able to meet the needs of the business growth while also growing our own team's capacity to deliver.  Our fluid partnership allowed us to uncover issues and respond to them quickly.  Fixes were delivered using an Agile development process, which allowed us to be flexible and timely.

Launching Amazon.MX
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Amazon wanted to launch in Mexico.  As part of the International Technology organization, my team owned the end to end process of creating each of the customer facing product categories—Books, Music, Electronics, Beauty, Kitchen, Home, Sporting Goods, etc.

Research Questions

  • What product categories should be offered? What makes a ‘complete’ product offering?

  • What are the language requirements for the product themselves?  What about english-language books? 

  • What are the cultural norms and expectations that need to be addressed in terms of navigation, product selection, imagery or iconography?

Research Methods + Design

Through quantitative and qualitative evaluation of customer behaviors on other Amazon websites (US, UK, ES) we were able to inform our category decisions.  For other research questions, we created simulations of customer scenarios-- within Libros (Books), we prototyped search results using different algorithms to better understand how to manage books in multiple languages.  To foster 'working backwards' practices with the newly-hired business team, we set up voice of the customer listening sessions and led cognitive walkthroughs with native speakers at milestone stages.

Impact + What I Learned

From the moment we went live we offered customers 12 different product categories, delivering the broadest selection of products in any previous country launch.  

 

I loved working with the Mexican retail team.  This project reinforced my passion for sharing knowledge and mentoring others.  Many on the Mexico team were hired to run the new website and instead they met me, who asked them roll up their sleeves and work together to build the website they would eventually run.

[Arts, Crafts & Sewing], [Lawn & Garden], [Pet Supplies]...
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As Amazon's US site grew, the “Home” category ballooned into a collection of products- rich in dog toys, crafting kits, bed frames and lawn furniture.  My team partnered with the US retail team to do a series of ‘splits’ to break out products and launch them as their own shopping experiences.  Our project included back-end functional changes and visual front-end changes-- all of which impacted the customer experience. 

 

Research Questions

  • What areas of product selection should be broken-out into their own category?

  • What new features and functionality enhance the new shopping experience?

 

​Research Methods + Design

To determine how to break-out product selection, the business team prioritized areas of profitability, industry competitors and opportunities to reorganize how they internally ran their business. My team led was the discussion from the customer’s perspective by modeling how the new stores would be represented in navigation, search and browse. We used card sorting and word affinity research to inform taxonomy. We informed our decisions by considering the ripple effect that any change would have on our international websites and drove to establish global standards that would streamline reporting and create a roadmap for world-wide growth.  To determine new features we ran A/B weblab tests in search layouts. We developed different graphical refinements to aid in shopping. To triangulate our quantitative findings, we engaged in cognitive walkthroughs and put changes in front of customers in the usability lab. 

Impact + What I Learned

By making these changes we grew the US retail businesses-- raising the profile of products in customer searches on the homepage and creating new targeted advertising opportunities.

 

This project highlighted the need to plan for and manage experiences for existing customers so they could smoothly adapt to changes in previously known experiences.  To do this we collaborated with merchandisers and our Search team to build transitions into our roll out plans.

My First Widget
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Early in my career, I worked on a project that spanned three of Amazon's international sites-- Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr and Amazon.de.  The EU had launched a directive on lighting products that required sellers to display product data around light efficiency, product recycling and hazardous waste disposal.  This led to the launch of my first detail page widget.

Research Questions

  • Where and when should customers see this new information during the shopping experience?

  • How can we translate these print-specific legal requirements to the digital space? 

  • What changes were needed in the seller experience to meet the legal requirements?

  • How can we internationalize this widget to work in all three locales?

 

​Research Methods + Design

The initial research was all about lighting technology since the US was far behind in its adoption of eco-friendly lighting products.  Next was working with design to translate legal requirements written for physical goods into a new digital experience.  Once we had a design, we prototyped the solution. The happy path looked great, but we realized we needed to define ways for the widget to display when only partial data was provided by 3rd party sellers.

 

Impact + What I learned

We delivered an informative and attractive customer experience that met the legal deadline across our three European marketplaces. 

 

We often learn the most when we consider the non-happy path scenarios.  The legal constraints of this project forced us to address these fringe scenarios and led us to a nimble solution that was bug-free at launch.