Researching a New Revenue Source
Problem: How do you take free wifi at a mall and make money as the company providing it? This is what we faced as I worked with Xpertek, a company in South Africa that provides wifi in malls and taxi cabs across the country. Xpertek was offering free wifi to consumers in malls and those malls were willing to invest in wifi as an amenity to bring people into the stores instead of losing them to online shopping. Providing this service was expensive however, because data in South Africa is even more expensive than the U.S. Xpertek wanted to make their business model more profitable by finding alternative ways increase revenue.
Solution: Partner with businesses within the mall to display coupons and discounts when people signed on to wifi. Also, send SMS to participants with those same coupons and discounts to encourage users to shop at those stores while they are at the mall. We needed to test these solutions before implementing them in all malls. I conducted research via in person surveys, moderated user testing, and quantitative usage data.
As you can see there are many moving part of this project. I’ve tried to explain them as clearly as I can below, but this particular project might be better presented to you. (If you are just skimming projects to see my work, I would suggest the Washington Wine Commission Redesign project.)
If you’re up for the complexity…let’s move ahead…
We would test these 4 items in different ways.
- Interested in coupons and discounts would be discovered via in person survey. My team approached people walking by the information booth in the mall, and sent them to me. I read aloud the survey I had created on Google docs to keep their attention and gauge their depth when giving answers. After surveying them, I also asked them if they had signed onto the wifi in the mall. If they hadn’t, I asked if I could watch them sign onto the wifi, so I could see the rest of our user flow in action.
- After users logged into wifi, they received a success screen with the additional text "Click below to spin and win! The grand prize is a DSTV decoder." Then right below in the space dedicated to future coupons and discounts (we had a few posted below), there was a colorful graphic to prompt them to click to receive and SMS.
- Once users clicked that link, they received an SMS with a link to an interactive wheel, where they could spin and win. If users clicked on the link in the SMS, we would understand that this part of the flow was working as well.
- Many users who spun the wheel received free airtime and were told to collect their prize at the information desk. There were also a lucky few who won the speakers or the decoder. Everyone who won, showed up to collect their prize. This demographic loved winning these prizes and it was lots of fun to watch them show up to the desk. At this point I would also conduct the survey with them while they waiting for their voucher to be made.
Big Surprise: As I was conducting user testing, I noticed someone pull out a second phone. I thought it was a bit odd, and asked him why he had two phones. When I asked everyone around the booth waiting for their prizes or to be surveyed by me pulled out their second phone. It was in this moment I realized that we had uncovered a problem in our flow.
Most users in this population had two cell phones because it was less expensive to have data on one type of phone and air time on another type of phone. When we asked people to log into their wifi, they would put in their airtime number. Then when they received an SMS on their airtime phone with a link, they would have to take out their other phone and manually enter it in. I’m surprised at the persistence of this audience and that we had gotten so much traction through our whole user flow. They were very motivated by the prizes that we chose, but this was a pain point that we needed to take into consideration when only sharing discounts and coupons.
To conclude the project, I put together all the survey data, observations, and insights from the research into a presentation for the company. I highlighted some areas of opportunities and next steps they could take as they continue to iterate with this project.