trade me

prototyping a mobile app

TradeMe is New Zealand’s largest internet auction website, whose customers primarily use mobile and touch devices to access the service.


TradeMe’s primary goal in contacting us was to explore a new branch of their website, much like the existing Motors and Property sectors, in the form of an app. Being mostly used to buy and sell used items, TradeMe’s plan was to create an app which highlighted the many brand-new goods offered on the site. With big brands such as Kathmandu and Stevens trading on TradeMe, the goal was to offer an Amazon style shopping experience far from what users recognized TradeMe for.


We experimented with new ways of interacting with the service to promote faster and more substantial transactions. By using the smaller Windows Phone marketplace as a test bed, we were able to provide an innovative app for TradeMe, unlike anything they had produced before. Introducing new functionality and design elements, we presented TradeMe with a vision for what their Mall app was capable of.


After the release of the app, live statistics from real users allowed for an executive decision to be made on the concept. Elements of the TradeMe Mall app, such as the shopping cart, proved profitable and were rolled out to the main TradeMe experience. The investigative process of the app provided insight into TradeMe’s user base and helped TradeMe make informed decisions on the future of not only the Mall sector, but also the primary website.



Fast transactions with a lower dropout rate

As TradeMe is generally associated with week-long auctions, customers do not expect a fast turnaround when purchasing from the site. This had to be overcome with TradeMe Mall as all items were not only new, but also had a “buy now” price. Additionally, TradeMe had a goal for users to purchase items swiftly without cancelling their transaction. This was achieved in two ways: An always-accessible shopping cart, and a single page checkout.



To get inspiration for the Mall app, our team began with a visit to a local mall; we observed all the ways stores encourage purchases and ease of the shopping experience. By introducing the Shopping cart, a previously unfamiliar concept to TradeMe users, we aimed to simulate this physical mall scenario. When shopping, your cart or basket is always handy. You’re are able to throw in items and keep track of them easily. Similarly, in the TradeMe mall app, the shopping cart is always accessible. Adding an item to the cart or managing your purchase list does not take you away from the shopping experience.



When a user is happy with their purchases, the checkout button gives a summary and automatically enters card details for existing TradeMe customers to encourage quick transactions. The one page checkout means a minimum of two taps are required to buy all items in the cart. By removing barriers of purchasing, users are more likely to confirm their purchase as they are less likely drop out based on excessive required effort on their behalf.



Altering perceptions of the TradeMe brand

A major challenge of the TradeMe Mall project was to alter the way users interacted within the Mall app compared to the familiar primary TradeMe apps. Rather than being associated with second hand goods, our designs had to visually communicate that all items were new, buy now, and pay now. By taking into consideration what a service for new products would feel like, we highlighted the product images, prices, stores, and brands.



Large images with prominent price tags are utilized on the home page, and an “add to cart” button is available in almost all views. As with a physical mall, the app would have a large focus on stores and their branding. When entering a store, the app replaces TradeMe branding with the store’s colour scheme and logo to reinforce trust in the purchase of a quality branded product. Overall, we aimed to produce an image-rich browsing-style experience throughout.



Our browse and buy philosophy transferred to the product page, which is intentionally very different to an ordinary auction page. The design of the price indicator imitates a price tag, and the carousel style image viewer encourages flicking through product pictures. The “add to cart” button is available anywhere on the product page as it sticks to the top of the display when the user scrolls. All aspects combined to encourage browsing and purchasing, while reinforcing the brand new and buy now mentality.



The exploration was successful, allowing TradeMe to evaluate in depth what their users like and dislike about the buying and browsing experience. Inspiration from some of the aspects of TradeMe Mall, such as the shopping cart, are now being used on the main site to increase purchase rates and speed.

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