Start Selling Your Products Right Away -UX Case Study of Merchants Selling Experience

A glimpse into online shopping

Over the past year, I found myself spending more time shopping online than going to department stores. I thought it is because I live in the South Bay of California and traffic is constantly a pain in the ass for commutes. However, with a second thought, I found something intriguing beyond this conspicuous fact.

Shopping in department stores implies more time commitment. I can save my time on commutes, avoid frustrations of finding a parking spot, and additional costs on snacks and drinks during shopping. Moreover, online shopping is fun! It’s way easier, faster and more diverse. As soon as the idea of buying something pops up on my mind, I start my research instantly on Google or Amazon. Also, shopping websites help me to nail down what I really want to buy with labels and filters like “New Arrivals”, “Top sellers”, “Top reviews”, etc. Those websites are my best “shopping companion”. All they ask from me is a keyword, and the rest of the shopping is taken care of with handy recommendations and loads of beautiful pictures.

If buying is as simple as a few clicks, could selling be that simple as well? Would the change of our shopping habits change the way merchants sell their products on e-commerce websites?

Noted that most merchants are also consumers. They want a simplified and streamlined selling experience as well. No one enjoys dealing with complex inventory forms and following page-long instructions. If buying is easy, selling shouldn’t be ten times hard.

What I’m looking into in this case study

I’m looking to create simplified selling experience on e-commerce websites like eBay, Etsy, and Wish. These websites provide both buying and selling services. By looking into their selling services, I want to find out what the determining factors are that would make the selling experience successful for merchant users.

Below is a quick analysis I created in terms of opening a shop on different e-commerce websites. I included the top 4 factors I care about if I’m in shoes of a merchant user. I also included what I particularly liked about each website: eBay allows guest users to search for an existing product listing before putting anything up, and Wish allows users to upload inventory spreadsheets in CSV files.

Analysis of shop-opening experience on e-commerce websites
What I like about eBay and Wish as a merchant user

Wireframe task flows for a better selling experience

The research reveals the basics of a creating good selling experience for merchants:
• Post log-in: consistent for both log-in and guest users
• Linear: easy to follow with step-by-step instructions
• Templated listing: easy to stock the shop with the first product listing

I mapped out the task flow for a first-time merchant to open up a shop and start selling the first product right away. Besides the basics, I also included some bonus points:
• Show potential selling stats
• Preview product listing before publishing

Task flow for first-time merchant users to start selling things

Get some designs on the table

To consolidate the thinking process above, I created high-fidelity designs on top of the task flows to show in detail how this selling experience would eventually look like. I also want to highlight that the graphics in those high-fidelity designs serve UX purposes by breaking down chunks of instructional information for first-time merchant users to complete their task easily.

High-fidelity designs for first-time merchant users to start selling things
Screen design details

Next steps and takeaways

As far as the research goes, I see there are many further directions this case study could lead to.

Mobile selling experience
Some other field research shows that users tend to place low-amount orders on mobile (<$100) than on desktop. It makes sense that if something is affordable users will just buy it immediately. On the flipping side, if something is priced high, they tend to hop on their laptops to check detailed description, photos, and reviews.

Edit product listings
Complicated tasks would be easily postponed. When it comes down to creating product listings, the same pattern applies. From a design perspective, if we help merchants shorten the process of finishing a full listing and bring them back to edit details later, merchants would be motivated to create more product listings.

Upload multiple product listings at a time
For merchants that already own online shops on other e-commerce websites, we don’t want to have them repeatedly upload individual product listing manually. Being able to import and manage listing and inventory files from other websites are is important to merchants.

Selling stats while listing products
Before starting an online business it’s hard to foresee if the products would be sold well. However, if the system could surface some selling data when a merchant is drafting a listing, it would provide great insights and boost confidence for merchants.

A lot of thanks if you are reading to the end of this article. If you have some thoughts to share, please don’t hesitate to put them down. I’m not an expert on e-commerce but I’m enthusiastic to learn more about user experience. Medium is a great place to document our learning process, and let’s keep the momentum going! 😀



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Shan Shen

Shan Shen


Principal product designer at Custom Ink. I lead digital experiences in tech to empower emerging communities.