Consulting: Research Methods for an E-commerce platform



The Scope

In this project I and the team at Aleph provided the Research Method for an C2C E-commerce Platform in Vietnam. We also helped them to conduct, guide the process

The Brief

  • To help The Client develop a better understanding of consumer’s behaviours and expectations when looking to buy and sell apartments, regardless of channel.
  • Leverage proven Human Centred Design research methods to identify opportunities, provide insights and inform future initiatives for the product.

The Objectives

  • Know the users, who are they? What is their background? how they use technology in general. What are their needsgoals and motivations?
  • Understand and map the journey when users are buying and selling an apartment, including what they do, how they feel and where there are pain points and opportunities to enhance their experience.
  • Clearly define user requirements from the online platform experience; i.e. why are they using this tool? What do they expect from it? These should be presented in a way that the information can be easily consumed and used by the ChoTot team, e.g in the form of Persona artefacts and journey maps.

The Approach


In order to conduct this research and obtain the outcomes "The Client" is seeking, we have prepared a proposed approach which leverages proven Human Centred Design methods.

Our approach is guided by a fundamental question: “What kind of digital experience do people expect from "The Client" and how can we meet and exceed these expectations?”


We don’t work in isolation or in secret; "The Client"'s stakeholders will be involved and invited to collaborate at every stage of the discovery and conceptualisation process.

Findings from the Foundation stage will be shared, discussed and ratified with project stakeholders, ensuring that insights are operationalised and not simply dismissed as interesting observations.



1. Kick off

We try to understand the real problems, explore gaps in knowledge, confirm objectives and achieve alignment on project goals.

Stakeholders input

Stakeholder input, obtained from kick-off and throughout allows us to validate and further refine the project approach, goals and objectives.

Stakeholder input will help inform the testing sessions, including important scenarios, constraints, and business goals. We strive to bring stakeholders on the journey throughout the project to ensure any refinement or recommendations are made in consultation with the relevant people. It shouldn’t be a murder mystery, with the final reveal presented at the end as a polished deck (when it can be too late!)



At this step we start building hypotheses based on existing data and make assumptions for the research. Activities include:

Existing Data Review

Review existing primary and secondary data from The Client's existing product, this data helps us to identify user segment and criteria to recruit for the research.

Competitor Analysis

In a competitor review we assess the strengths and weaknesses of your direct and indirect competitors and provide recommendations on where to align, improve and/or differentiate your experience offering.

This also helps us to identify potential users in order to recruit them for our research session.


2. Facilitation

Research methods


In order to reach our objectives, we need to know what users think and understand why. Qualitative Interviews and Testing sessions are useful answering these questions and provide us with a mechanism to get to the heart of user behaviour and motivation.

We will utilise techniques like ‘think aloud’ protocol whilst asking users to perform tasks on key ChoTot pages helping us to understand not only what they are doing, but how, why they are doing it and where they might be struggling or enjoying the process.


Participant Recruitment

Identify sample size, define participants characteristics, contact the participants and prepare facilitation. It is important to get the right people in the room for qualitative research in order to ensure insights obtained are relevant to the project.

Create a Facilitation / Moderation Guide

We will create a moderation guide or ‘script’ to help create a baseline for our sessions. This will help to orient the research, guide the conversation and position our questions. The guide will include:

  • Orientation Questions
  • Background Questions
  • Open-ended Questions (we always avoid leading questions)
  • Scaled responses (e.g. System Usability Scale, Desirability Scale, Net Promoter Score etc.)


Qualitative Interviews – Buyers

We will conduct a Moderated User Sessions, with interview style questions and some moderated task completion with a view of capturing insights from buyers around their main objectives and motivations. These sessions will also help to uncover any pain or delight points while using the ChoTot platform which we will capture and report on. The sessions will also help us to better understand users technology usage and competency and their experience with similar products.


Qualitative Interviews – Agents and Sellers

Although Agents and Sellers all use the same platform and have the same purpose, their motivation could be different and that may drive different usage behaviours. We seek to understand where there are similarities and differences and where there may be specific needs. We will conduct the interview with 50% of the participants as Agents and 50% as Sellers.


Synthesis and deliver reports

Taking session findings, analysing them, synthesising them into a summary with actionable and prioritised recommendations.