karthikapriyaj@gmail.com​  |  Tel: 704-780-0013


the project in brief

the problem

A number of buyers of women's underwear choose to purchase online because of their dissatisfaction with the in-store shopping experience. This issue is exacerbated in the case of 'non-traditional' shoppers who do not find retailers like VS inclusive enough. This is a problem because fit, comfort and feel are important factors in the purchase decision process and can be best determined when shopping in-store.

the users

A whole spectrum of buyers of women's underwear exists beyond cis- women and males buying for their female significant others. These 'non-traditional' groups comprise single dads, cross dressing males, trans women, males with breasts(gynecomastia), etc.

the solution

We envision an extension to the Victoria's Secret mobile app, that allows the user to customize their shopping experience in-store and tackle various pain-points we identified during our research process. These include discomfort in interactions  with sales associates, trouble finding the right fit and visualizing styles.
Team: Ruturaj Eksambekar, Karthika Jayaprakash, Charlotte Lou, Danielle Schechter

my role

For the most part my team divided up responsibilities equally, my role included creating, reviewing and revising questions for the survey, analysis of survey results, conducting interviews and user evaluations, performing cognitive walk throughs, as well as qualitative data analysis. I created various concept sketches, one of 4 shortlisted wireframes and the interactions for the final prototype.

the prototype


Fitting Room Assistance


Fit Measurement Scheduling


Product Review Customization

Victoria's Secret

FALL 2017

An in-store shopping assistant that provides a more inclusive and comfortable shopping experience at lingerie retailer VS.

UX Design, User Research

the research


Victoria's Secret alone holds over 2/3rds of the market share of the women's underwear business most of which comes from in-store sales.


 VS's popularity is starting to decline. Boutique online retailers like Thirdlove, Naja, AdoreMe, Thinx and Lively are making inroads by catering to very specific needs and aspirations of their customers, and, by offering easy shipping and return policies.
Aerie, a relatively new entrant, with a focus on inclusivity has grown rapidly. Aerie's advertisements and website proudly feature non-photoshopped images of diverse women spanning all shapes and sizes which seems to have resonated well with shoppers.
There is strong pushback against VS's strategy of selling sex appeal, glamour and expensive lingerie and its use of supermodels for branding and visuals.

the process

Our project goal - to create a digital solution that would mitigate the discomfort of in-store women’s underwear shopping and create a more inclusive experience for traditional and non-traditional customers alike at Victoria's Secret. 


We began the next phase of research by deploying an online survey. We chose this method as it enabled us, to reach and recruit our 'non-traditional' buyers segment for our research, as well as, to quickly verify our findings and hypotheses from our initial explorations. We posted the survey on Reddit subreddits, Facebook and Slack Channels and received over 113 valid responses of which 52 were cis female and 61 were non-traditional buyers of women's underwear. 

the analysis


We conducted an affinity mapping exercise to analyze the qualitative data from the CI's and the interviews. Themes emerged, one centered on dis-satisfaction with sales associates, a second, had to do with sizing- across the board respondents felt that they were not able to get the right fit, thirdly, respondents felt that visualizing product and finding styles and sizes in-store was not easy. 



Most customers reported dis-satisfaction in their interactions with SA's. Some felt that they were being 'judged' others disliked SA's initiating contact and unsolicited offers of help.


Four personas were created to represent to us the needs of our users during the design process, these were Carl the cis-male buying for his cis-female partner, Michelle the cis-female, Nicole a transgender female and James a crossdressing male.
Parsing through the results of the survey, the affinity mapping exercise and using our personas as a guide we came up with the following needs to be satisfied by our design


Users need to be in control of their interactions with SA's. 
They need an inclusive yet private experience when being measured for fit. 
They need information that can enable them to make informed purchase decisions.
Users need assistance to visualize products on themselves.
Users need assistance to easily find product in-store. 

the design


As a prelude to the brainstorming exercise, we took turns in roleplaying the journey of our four personas as they shopped at Victoria's Secret to help us empathize with their needs better. After, brainstorming we shortlisted the concepts that we found most promising and created concept sketches.
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Best features were ranked with stars and 4 ideas were explored in more detail. I designed a smart mirror option that would provide a completely, private shopping experience inside a 'smart' dressing room.



Our next step was to conduct Contextual Inquiries(CI) and semi-structured interviews with participants from our survey to gain a better understanding into their purchase experience in-store and delve deeper into pain points and needs.
Two CI's were conducted in-store, with a cis female, and, a male buying for his spouse. One more CI was conducted with a male crossdresser buying online from the VS site. Interviewees included 2 cis females and two trans women.


the evaluation


Our average SUS score from the usability tests was 75, and most of our participants reported that this app would improve their shopping experience. Areas to be improved included better visibility of navigational elements and more explicit instructions on certain screens. The fitting room assistance feature was most appreciated and participants felt that it could be carried over to other kinds of clothing stores.


Four users, were presented with the concepts and were interviewed in a semi-structured format. They were asked to choose best features in the concepts they were reviewing. While the smart mirror idea was very popular, given project time constraints we opted to go the mobile app route. To further narrow down features and ideas to be used in the app we conducted a card sorting exercise.
The following four requirements were shortlisted as a result of these evaluations and we explored these in the medium fidelity wireframes that we're created with Sketch.


Customizing fitting sessions with SA's, in an inclusive manner
Allowing customer to contact SA's via app to bring product to Fitting Rooms 
Providing customers with product information and reviews upon scanning the barcodes
Allowing customer to customize reviews based on body types


Evaluation Feedback

Evaluation Feedback

Evaluation Feedback


Flow 1.  Request Personalized Fitting

Flow 2.  Request Fitting Room Assistance

Flow 3.  Access Product Information

Evaluation Feedback

Two kinds of evaluation were performed namely, cognitive walk throughs and usability tests. Three benchmark tasks representing the most important features of the app were evaluated. 
Three cognitive walkthroughs and 6 usability tests were conducted. Of the 6 usability test participants, 3 were cis females buying for themselves, 2 were cis males buying for themselves and 1 was a cis male buying for a partner.

Evaluation Feedback