Service design for audiences with diverse digital literacy, complex product legacy systems

The Challenge

To design an e-commerce service that allows customers to browse, identify and buy from a hugely complex product range that is traditionally bought in person.


Coats are a manufacturer of industrial threads, and their customers range from high street tailors in India, to factories in China and big brands in the west. Their current eCommerce system has a very complex legacy architecture, and has within it a highly complex product set that is hard to configure and buy, particularly in a digital context.

In order to understand user need we conducted a wide-ranging Discovery programme across four territories. The majority of the users were non-english speaking and levels of digital literacy varied hugely across the sample. Initially we sampled very broadly in order to understand the different needs of different customers. Once we had identified and agreed our customer we refined our sample and honed in on our key segments.


We designed a number of target experiences with supporting technical architecture and a backlog of hypotheses to test through prototyping in an Alpha phase. This was supported by detailed user insight for each of our target user groups.

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