Loss Prevention Tools
Loss Prevention Tools is working to build a digital web app geared toward retail loss prevention to assist loss prevention experts with analyzing data and case management.
Mary Ann Denman (Information Architect and Visual Designer)
Dominic Martinez (Interaction Designer)
Pen and Paper
Those who work in loss prevention at smaller retail companies are finding it difficult to effectively upload and analyze data for specific internal theft categories with a tool that is price-effective and tailored to their specific needs.
The goals of creating this web app were:
- Validate the business idea and the main user base.
- Create a minimum viable product for a digital tool that loss prevention experts can use to analyze data and track cases.
- Make the interface easy and intuitive to use.
We will create a platform that loss prevention experts can utilize to upload data, filter the proper category, analyze the results, and conduct investigations in a time-efficient manner.
The team's first order of business was a stakeholder interview with our client to learn about his company, needs, and how our team could help him with user experience. I led the stakeholder interview and asked questions so we could learn more about the industry, our client's goals, and the tool our client wanted to create.
I gained a better sense of the direction of Loss Prevention Tools after our client meeting, and I got to work on creating a research document that would guide the research process. Before even writing a Problem Statement, I wrote a Research Problem Statement. Because the company doesn't currently have a product, the research would be critical to determining the user base and creating a minimum viable product.
Research Problem Statement
I will identify how loss prevention experts currently analyze retailer data to pinpoint internal theft by conducting telephone and in-person interviews and compiling the results.
Learning about retail loss prevention was an important part of the process. In order to properly craft and ask questions, I had to understand the basics of loss prevention.
Retail loss prevention is a profession that is responsible for reducing inventory losses inside retail stores. Loss prevention professionals manage in-store security programs that focus on reducing inventory losses due to employee theft, shoplifting, fraud, vendor theft, and accounting and training errors.
To gain a better sense of the industry, I organized a competitive research spreadsheet that would give me further insight into loss prevention tools that experts use. I found that most loss prevention tools in the market are expensive and offer more advanced features.
Initial User Interviews
Before zoning in on loss prevention experts, the main user base was open-ended. In order to narrow in on who the main user would be, I interviewed store managers from four different retail stores in downtown Seattle. I quickly learned that store managers deal more with external customer theft, and that I would need to be speaking with loss prevention experts in corporate. These in-person participant interviews were helpful to eliminate a user base and gear the web app tool more toward a specific job title: loss prevention associates/managers/directors.
By utilizing LinkedIn and the websites of smaller retailers, I identified loss prevention experts who I then cold called and emailed. I intentionally targeted loss prevention associates, managers, and directors to learn as much as I could about what digital tools they use to analyze data and determine what procedures are followed in order to move forward with internal investigations.
Main User Interviews
My cold calling, emailing, and referral efforts resulted in four user interviews from loss prevention experts in small to mid-size retailers. User interviews were beneficial in getting a sense of how loss prevention experts conduct their analysis and what their job entails. In 3/4 cases, these experts dealt with the data analyzing, as well as interviewed internal employees as part of the investigation.
User personas give life to my research and keep me thinking about what features and flows are absolutely essential. I created primary and secondary personas to help guide the designs.
To better serve Richard and Danielle, Loss Prevention Tools should provide:
- Produce organized reports.
- An inexpensive tool.
- A streamlined process for uploading data and identifying outliers.
- A clean dashboard to conduct organized in-depth investigations.
Through research and learning more about what loss prevention experts do, I determined context scenarios for both Richard and Danielle. Having user scenarios were useful for the Information Architect and Interaction Designer to help guide the main flows.
Before passing off the research to Mary Ann and Dominic, I condensed the research and made recommendations based on what I learned:
- Simple and clear dashboard to make it easy for users to upload data and filter for results they are looking for.
- Include an option to filter top results, date range, print/PDF/email the report.
- Ability to pull out certain results and organize them in ‘To Investigate’ and ‘Investigated’ folders within the dashboard.
Interaction Design + design studio
I worked with Dominic on certain interaction design elements of the digital web app, including participating in a design studio workshop with our client. During this design studio workshop, we were able to come up with several ideas for the Data Uploading Flow and get immediate feedback from the client.
I tested the prototype with four users, which was beneficial for this MVP because we were building the web app from scratch and had flexibility on what the product could be and how to make it unique and stand out from competitors.
A few of the main learnings from user testing include:
- Adding a timestamp for line items to make it easier to find an event on the camera systems.
- Incorporating a dropdown for individual line items, which allows users to pinpoint when exactly something happened.
- Including a section in each report to write notes from the interview investigation, in addition to the Executive Summary section.
- Adding the option to upload multiple spreadsheets, then have options to combine the data or build out separate graphs.
Because data for benchmark numbers doesn't exist, it will be important to track the initial data from the minimum viable product. These success metrics were guided by our users, Richard and Danielle.
These are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) I would measure:
- Number of users who sign up for the service with the minimum viable product.
- Track the success rate for uploading data and filtering for the categories desired.
- Track the number of investigations users create.
What I Learned
With this client project, I learned:
- How to better deal with ambiguity, as there was no original product to work off of.
- Communication was important part of this process to ensure the direction was along the lines of what the client was looking for.
- How to hone my skills in validating a business idea using the design process.
- The importance of persistence in the research phase and getting creative with identifying and recruiting participants.
- Build out reports with multiple graphs from various data sources.
- Build out different internal theft issue categories.
- User test with a more built-out clickable prototype.
- Develop and test to gain user sign-ups.