January 2018 – April 2018 from idea to deployment
At the end of April 2018, Lowe’s released an app extension feature on the iOS platform. This feature is within the native iOS messaging app. We wanted to create an easy way for customers to share their favorite products with their friends and family without leaving their message string.
When you are doing a home improvement project, you definitely share ideas and want other people’s opinions. We see this all the time.
For example, let’s say my roommate and I want to get a new outdoor rug. We are talking back and forth about what we are thinking the style should be. How can I send her something quick? Go out of the text, find the Lowe’s app, search for area rugs, find the one I like, screenshot it, go back to my text and then send her the picture? No. Too much.
Utilizing the app extension, I can quickly pull up Lowe’s and search for outdoor rugs, scroll through the options and then send the one I am inspired by.
Another feature I had to take into consideration while designing is the launch of Apple Business Chat. This allows customers to text Lowe’s Customer Care directly and ask for any kind of help. Our contact agents are utilizing the App Extension to send products to customers during their conversations. When the agent sends an item, the customer can tap the message bubble and view the product info right in the message app through the app extension.
The Quick Turnaround
Apple Business Chat was well underway when I joined the project. With a lot of focus on the Customer Care agent-to-customer interaction, there was no thought around the consumer-to-consumer use of the app extension. I was encouraged to QUICKLY think through some of the interactions/UX/UI and get mockups into user stories.
My plan was to just follow a normal search shopping funnel that our customers were used to on our desktop/mobile site but more trimmed down of non-pertinent info.
Search > List Grid > Product Details > Send
Messages App in the App Store:
The Road Blocks
Once we got going on the development, the team ran into some issues that weren’t thought about at the beginning.
One of the biggest issues was MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) pricing. Since Lowe’s runs sales/ promotions throughout the year, some items fall below the retail price but legally, we cannot market that item at that specific sale price. This requires items’ prices to only be viewed after they are added to cart. I had to come up with a plan of action when customers land on these items.
The Solution: Provide a deep link to the product detail screen in the app which there they can add the product to cart and view price. This solution now solves a user need as well as drives traffic to the native app.
Apple Business Chat
Lowe’s is utilizing LivePerson to build up the customer care to customer interaction. This required some thinking through the design of the list link and the individual item link.