Visual merchandie app
reporting & feedback app for visual merchandise team
Visual merchandise and windows team was in need of reporting and feedback tool for their teams around Europe, so that they could streamline the visual merchandise processed and reach consistency around different counties and cultures.
The project includes an iOS app that is brand-neutral (earlier versions included styling for Tommy and Calvin, but proved difficult to maintain), a web app, as well as a web-based admin panel.
Brand: PVH Europe
Team: Visual Merchandise & Windows team
When: June 2020
Team: Visual Merchandise & Windows team
When: June 2020
Need for a separate app
Before the app, visual merchandise team was managing all communication by email. As part of the reporting process, local VM teams had to take photos of their work (interior of the stores and windows) and send it to their manager and HQ for approval and/or feedback. This going back-and-forward process could have been done multiple times to reach consistency across countries.
Because of the enormous numbers of stores and VM associates, every season there was way too much content to review. Managers couldn't manage the flow and were getting confused with the amounts of photos to review.
First alternative was to document everything in Google Drive: each store was getting their own folder where they could document everything. While being convenient for associates, this messed proved to be very difficult for managers. The issue of being notified about new updates and keeping track on who implemented feedback, and who still needs work to do remained.
And the app was born
After initial prototypes were done, the team started on incremental building. The first versions of the app were somewhat less elegant and fulfilled the main need of notifying managers (and, further down the line, HQ) whether everything is ok or some stores need to adjust their merchandise setup.
Below you will see the screens of the V3.0 of the app.
The main improvements the team made during the refinements of the app was to keep it brand neutral (initially each brand received their own styling template), and to promote notifications.
We also simplified lots of flows, removing features that were added as nice-to-haves and focusing only on essentials. For instance, on request of the client we added an HQ filtered tab, where HQ team could "promote" their content. In V3 we removed this tab, but improved filtering, so that users now have possibility to narrow down not only to HQ generated content, but also e.g. to a country or channel level.
For convenience, the app is divided between the following parts: feed (for news and inspiration), reports (for feedback on store setup), library (for PDF guidelines) profile (central place for all user's data), and admin panel for managers and HQ.
It was (and still is, as the app is growing) to keep interface incredibly simple and familiar to use.
The team was very inspired by google suit and Instagram UI, as these were the tools used by the team prior to this app. Thus we expected (and later confirmed) that with so many familiar elements the on-boarding process would be easier, which in turn would encourage higher engagement.
We kept all the lines and shapes simple by using only limited number of colours (blue accents and light grey backgrounds) and shadows to emphasise hierarchy. In this way we could focus the attention of our users on visual content, which is a heart of the app.
The main goal of the app is to facilitate reporting between associate and manager on the of visual merchandising store. However it was discovered that the smaller info blocks are also needed. Used for news and inspiration, they were created and posted under feed tab.
As this is a corporate app, management team found it important that before being published all content is renewed and approved. Thus the Feedback tab was created, where the associate can see the status of their content: approved, pending, rejected.
Feedback and reports
In their original format, reports had very complicated structure: they got chapters, comments, checklists, obligatory and optional photos, and more. While adding lots of structure to the final report, this made the filling in process quite long and the feedback process very tedious.
Thus the flows were simplified to the bare minimum: list of images with optional comments. While removing the previous structure, this made the creation and review process of the reports quicker. This, in turn, provided faster feedback and iteration on the interior of the stores, resulting in meeting deadlines (and less stressed associates, as feedback arrived on time).
Account of the user plays a role of the central hub. All content created by this user, would that be posts or reports, can be found behind user account. Personal settings and feedback tabs can also be found here.
As of V3 version of the app, the admin panel is available only in web version. It allows managers and HQ team to create and maintain structure of the app. For instance, creating the region teams, updating library with new guidelines, or introducing new filtering tags (e.g. for new season).
As of now the app fulfils the basic reporting needs of the needs of the regional merchandise managers on reporting and feedback processes.
For the next steps the team is looking in direction of AR, where HQ team can recommend how to setup store by providing an AR experience. As every store is unique in it's layout, this is considered challenging. However, every store has sections which can be monitored individually, and thus this would be the first steps. More research is needed, as this is development (and budget) heavy process, and we want to do it right.
If done correctly, this will speed up the setup of the stores and will minimise the amount of feedback from managers to associates, meaning that VM team will get better quality in shorter amounts of time.