The Customer

Tictail provides a SaaS ecommerce platform and marketplace for emerging brands that’s simple to use, attractive, and customizable. The company was founded in Stockholm, Sweden in 2011 and now has 65 employees. Tictail raised a Series B financing in July 2015.

The Challenge

Eric Fixler, Tictail’s VP of Product, wanted to reduce merchant churn on its Custom Shop Ecommerce platform and increase monthly recurring revenue (MRR).

Support requests and Mixpanel data showed new merchants were having onboarding problems. Tictail also knew that its shop themes were out of date. And Tictail’s product team, by interviewing several of the first merchants on its platform, had learned about their problems managing a Tictail shop at high volume.

For Eric, the challenge was insufficient data. The team needed a more detailed understanding of merchants’ problems with Tictail to scope and prioritize the many enhancements under consideration. Eric decided to hire Growth Velocity because,

“As is often the case, there was a large fraction of people who just wanted to redesign and reimplement the whole thing. But we didn’t have good in depth insights on our user. The people who work here don’t have online stores. They don’t know what it’s really like to manage that. We needed a better way to factor the customer experience into our plans.”

The Solution

Growth Velocity recommended using a methodology called Problem Discovery Testing to uncover each merchant’s own experiences and goals when using the product.

Merchant interviews began in November 2016. The first topics were selecting Tictail, signing up, and setup. But the interview’s focal point was the merchant’s actual use of Tictail during the preceding month, October. For example: what tasks were completed on the platform, how many times that month, and a rank ordering of tasks by importance. Each participant was then observed and interviewed as she completed her three most important tasks.

Ten merchants were recruited, split between new shops and established, higher volume shops. Merchants in Tictail’s top categories (eg, Fashion, Accessories, Jewelry) and geographies were recruited, as well as a split between churned shops and current customers.

The Results

“We hit an all-time high in active shops on Tictail in February.”

Growth Velocity’s analysis was completed in early December. On the benchmark Single Ease Question (SEQ), merchants rated shop management tasks on Tictail substantially higher than the “industry average” of 5.0 for technology products, and higher than two better-known Ecommerce platform competitors.

So why were merchants churning when Tictail’s shop management GUI was so easy to use?

By segmenting the research data between newly opened shops and established, high volume shops, Growth Velocity found three explanations. And we spotted opportunities to better monetize the Custom Shop Ecommerce platform.



Insight #1. Improve DIY shop customization for new shops

New merchants showed us how they had difficulty customizing a shop on Tictail. To save money, the new merchants we interviewed customized their store’s design themselves or asked a friend to help. By contrast, all but one of the large merchants hired a professional designer/developer to customize their Tictail store. Growth Velocity identified specific usability issues in Tictail’s theme selector/editor, and Tictail made enhancements quickly, about which Eric Fixler said:

“Usability Improvements for the theme edit, preview, and save flow are being finalized now. We’re launching a community forum for Tictail shop owners. And we’ll continue working on onboarding in Q2; the goal there is to make onboarding as quick as possible.”

Insight #2. Large shops need more than a great GUI

All four large merchants showed us how they were struggling to operate a high volume shop with a GUI, even one as usable as Tictail’s. For them, it was inefficient to make additions and edits to a large product catalog with a GUI. They also had trouble synchronizing multi-channel orders (eg Ecommerce, wholesale, retail storefront) between the ERP, 3PL, and WMS systems they use.

“That’s the kind of insight you don’t get on a day to day basis because when you use the product every day, you forget about these things. You get used to clicking save or cancel and then when you see people in the user studies literally not wanting to do that, I think that’s one of the aha moments.”

Insight #3. Better monetization

Growth Velocity also found an opportunity to better monetize the platform in the poor experience (eg discovery, usability, billing) merchants were having with Tictail’s app store. By contrast, churned merchants proudly told us they paid competing platforms a flat fee for support and extended functionality. Tictail has replaced its legacy app store model containing a mix of free and paid “apps” (eg Google analytics tracking, Facebook pixel tracking) with a new $9/month Tictail Plus tier, offering similar functionality. Early results from Tictail Plus indicate it will do a better job monetizing the Custom Shop platform.

“The Tictail Plus yearly plan has been a boon. 40% of the people who’ve signed up so far are doing yearly.”


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