I launched AmazonTote, a pilot program in Seattle, in a matter of months. As its product manager, I worked with UX design, engineering, operations & logistics to create the customer experience, “hacked” our existing systems to meet our needs, and even ensure physical tote bags were designed, printed and shipped to us; all in under three months. Even on launch day, I rented and drove a truck to ensure our first customers’ orders were delivered on time.
I was one of the original senior software engineers involved with AmazonFresh while it was still a pilot-program in the greater Seattle area. I was responsible for creating or modifying more than 80% of our bespoke warehouse management system (WMS). More than just writing code, we spent a considerable amount of time at our fulfillment center, working alongside folks to understand how the software we wrote impacted them, and therefore could be improved upon. I received 5 patents during my tenure on the program.
At both AmazonFresh and AmazonTote our goal was to change the last-mile experience
for our customers. Namely, we believed that the experience we provided our customers extended past the website, right up to the time their order arrived at their door. In this context, Design takes on multiple new dimensions and challenges that are not normally encountered with a purely digital experience.
At AmazonFresh we were challenged with any number of problems on a weekly basis. From an experiential perspective, we needed to go deep into customer psychology to understand how people approached shopping for food, something that is — for many — a very personal and subjective experience. How do you earn their trust when selecting and handling their produce on their behalf? How do you convey to them package size in a way that is intuitive and immediately accessible when every item on your website has the same real-estate? How do you design an experience that works equally well for shoppers who walk up and down every aisle to find what they need, as well as for “spear-fisherman” shoppers who know exactly what they want? How do you set expectations and predict inventory
when much of your perishable goods may go bad? How do you solve warehouse packing problems (for which I received two patents) in a way that both reduces warehouse walk-time and increases packing density? As a senior engineer on the team, I helped solve these and many other challenges from
a continuously fed backlog of stories, with responsibilities covering every aspect from requirements gathering, to UX design, to test-driven development, and even operations.
At AmazonTote we again looked to redefine the last-mile experience, but this time for the entirety of Amazon.com. I was in charge of a small team, composed of an engineer and a designer, along with an
external design firm for graphic logo design. I pulled double-duty; during the day I was its product manager, and at night its front-end developer. Together we created — soup to nuts — an entirely new buying experience for which I am named in four patents. We launched AmazonTote in under ten weeks, which included: 1) design and procurement of tote-bags from China; 2) setting up a fulfillment center; 3) complete design and implementation of a website experience; and 4) all logistics including delivery.
Ultimately, we designed an end-to-end experience that utilized elements of 1-click, but expanded it to include a critical “your tote-bag” ordering page where you managed your upcoming delivery. Our primary goal was to create a delivery experience that felt more like a friend had dropped off a few items on their way back from the store, rather than echoing delivery through a national carrier. While the pilot program has since moved on to further stages of investigation, the results we collected around buying behavior and consumer loyalty to the program proved that we had nailed it experientially.