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I wrote a post last year on building an e-commerce app for a startup that sells Cricket Bats and Jewelry. It’s a client project and while certain events delayed progress, as of the last 3 weeks, things are picking up again. Since, they are still a small startup and have less technical expertise than me, part of my services to them, includes giving them a product strategy or a Kano model analysis of app features. In this post, I will recap on Kano Model, talk about some of app’s features and predict what results in the most customer satisfaction. This is not a coding post but more on product management side of things.

Background

Kano Model was proposed by a Japanese researcher, Professor Noriaki Kano in the 80s ( I think in 1984?) as a framework for product development and customer satisfaction. Kano Model works by classifying product features into different categories. These categories aim to segregate product features that satisfy, dissatisfy, delight (attract) customers (users). Let’s take a look at the product categories in more detail, each category refers to a product’s features with regards to user satisfaction,

  1. Must be quality: These are considered as essential for a product to work i.e. they are the fundamental building blocks of the product. E.g. an e-commerce shopping app that doesn’t let user’s make online purchases using their credit card will frustrate users, leading to product dissatisfaction. The absence of these “basic” features just means the product is set to fail
  2. Performance or One-Dimensional quality: This category refers to “the more the better” e.g. the more options we give users, the better. E.g. in a shopping app, if users can filter items by name by default, if we provide additional filtering options e.g. by price, availability, shipping times etc. The more options we provide, the greater the user satisfaction, however a lack of these won’t lead to dissatisfaction
  3. Indifferent quality: The features in this category are aspects of the app that users simply don’t care about. I mean, their presence makes little or no difference, therefore neither satisfaction or dissatisfaction. E.g. a shopping that that’s built using the best software engineering practices with loosely coupled code. Yeah, the users don’t care about that. It doesn’t affect their experience at all
  4. Attractive quality: Now, we are talking!!! This category refers to features that simply set the product ahead of the curve. These are features that users don’t expect by are surprised and delighted by them. E.g. a user is watching a movie in which an actor is wearing jewelry that she likes. At this time, if user can upload a picture of that actor to her shopping app which can find jewelry the best resembles and let’s her purchase it! This will delight the user (maybe not the best example, we can delight them with something as simple as extra discounts). 

Effective use of Kano model would involve creating a Kano questionnaire before product development….

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I think that should be enough about Kano model, if you want to know more, search for Kano Model using your favourite search engine. Alternatively, you can read one of my previous posts,

https://mydaytodo.com/product-plan-kano-model-startups/

The goal of using the Kano Model is to help us prioritise product development such that we are building a product that satisfies users (hopefully retains them to).

The App

The app in question, what does it do? It’s an e-commerce app that let’s users purchase cricket bats or hand-made African jewelry.  If you would like to know more about that business, you can read my previous post

https://mydaytodo.com/shopping-app-bats-jewelry-part-1/

Features

Now onto the main topic of this post; the app’s features. Let’s take a look at some of the features that this app needs, starting with must-have features. I will  be looking at the features from a product perspective, therefore I won’t be going into implementation specific details. (not in this post)

Must have (or must be quality)

It’s a shopping app, so when the users open the app, they should be able to go through the available items for sale. They should have the ability to view the item they like in more detail. Item details can include, a description, additional costs of purchase, the ability to view item image in greater detail (s) and add it to their cart.Once, the user feels he/she is done browsing and adding items to their cart, they should then be able to purchase them using their credit cart or other payment methods.

I think the above paragraph covers the bare basics of what’s needed to make a shopping app work. The lack of any of these features would just frustrate the users and they are likely to not use the app again. Regardless of whatever “bells and whistles” we may add to the app, it’s important to ensure the users have the above features.

Performance (one-dimensional quality)

Mobile app offerings from e-commerce giants such as amazon.com, flipkart.com, ebay.com, or taobao.com, have made users very “app aware”. They have come to expect using certain features as part of their mobile shopping experience. They often don’t want to scroll through lists to find what they are looking for, they want the ability to search for it based on it’s name, price etc. They also want to be able to first see the cheapest available option for what they want to buy (sorting). At times, they want a bulk buy option or cheaper shipping rates when delivery address is close to the shipping company. Maybe, they want to be able to buy an item and save delivery by picking it up from a designated location. In addition to credit cards, maybe they want more payment options e.g. PayPal, ApplePay, AliPay, WeChat Pay, MPaisa (Kenya) or WhatsApp pay (when it’s released).

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The aforementioned features are such that, they more of those we add, the more satisfied the users will be. Lack of some of these, won’t lead to dissatisfied users. However, I guess one can argue, that sorting items is a “must have” aspect of the online shopping experience. Hmm, not sure if I agree to it. I mean, as hard as it would be to guess? I play games and play them on Xbox. There’s an Xbox live marketplace where you can purchase digital Xbox games and they have no “sort by price” option!!! Actually, I am not sure if they have any sorting, you can filter games by genre or whether or not it’s on sale, but no cost sorting. I am actually a dissatisfied user because of this 😡

p.s. “as hard as it would be to guess? I play games”  that was sarcasm, totally!!! I am writing this post, wearing a t-shirt that says Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, that I bought from a games store 😉

Attractive Quality

These features are one for the imagination. Innovative features or things that users do not expect and are surprised and delighted by it. Before getting into the realm of sci-fi realm, let’s first look at things that can potentially delight users and aren’t too hard to achieve. We can keep track of regular shoppers, monitor their shopping habits and place them in a loyalty pool. Once the period ends, we can select at random, say less than 5 customers from the loyalty pool and offer them a 60-80% discount on items in their most shopped-in category. For the rest of the users in the pool, we can offer them 25-37% discounts on items for their most shopped-in category. This plays into the long-term strategy for product’s success by increasing user retention.

Now onto some sci-fi features, how about that image recognition program that I talked about earlier? Given my background in computer vision research, I think it’s not entirely infeasible to build image recognition software that can analyse images captured from a TV feed and detect jewelry in it…I think I am getting ahead of myself, here, I think it’s a good time to wrap up this post.

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Summary

I am meeting the founders of the other startup this weekend and I will be discussing the product strategy with them. As I said before, as part of my contract, one of the services, I will be providing to them is preparing a product strategy. If there’s one thing that I have learned from having my own startup, is that all the best code in the world is pointless without users. Having a vision, a goal or a product strategy from the onset, goes a long way into having a successful product.

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