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Virtual assistants for Sellers on TPT Marketplace

Overview

On the TeachersPayTeachers marketplace, my team's goal was to increase our sellers’ investment in TPT by building tools and features that keep them choosing us as their platform to sell. This is crucial to achieving our company goals because to succeed in our digital transformation, we need sellers to be bought-in and we’ll need their active participation. To get that participation, they need to be invested in and excited about TPT as a platform. My team focused on building solutions that make sellers excited and to make it easier for them to keep building on our platform.

"VA Login" had been the #1 Seller-requested tool for a couple of years at the time.

Role

Lead Product Design

Team

UX Research, PM, Engineering

Timeline

Q4 2021

Discovery

My user research partner and I started this project with some awareness that sellers had been sharing their passwords with assistants to help them do work on their TPT stores, but we needed to conduct research in order to better identify what work was being completed, and who these users are.

Our investigations included:

Survey with 500+ sellers around the current state of Virtual Assistants.

Interview walkthroughs with sellers and VAs.

Two rounds of design evaluation.

Feedback surveys and a diary studies during our beta release.

Virtual Assistant findings

Our TPT Sellers are the experts in the resources while the VAs help fill in their expertise and help with running an efficient business.

Who they are

VAs are current or former teachers, professional freelancers, and some are even family members of the Seller. In the case of teachers and freelancers, a VA might work for multiple sellers.

What they do

VAs currently work in either a speciality around SEO, Social Media, Brand Design, or they're in a do it all functionality that spans content creation and updates, handling customer service, marketing, and more.

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Testing with VAs what layout of client information worked best for them.

Sellers' main concerns

Many Sellers stated that they are currently not hiring VAs due to the lack of a secure access option to their stores. This causes our top sellers to spend extra time-consuming work of uploading or making repetative changes to products rather than focusing their efforts on resource creation.

“What if they lock me out of my store?”

“I don’t want anyone to know how much I make.”

I want to be able to do more, but there are only so many hours in the day. It would be amazing to allow a VA to edit descriptions, titles, tags, etc, without fully 'handing over the keys' to my shop.”

Another constraint we had to keep in mind is that sellers often hire multiple VAs – and VAs often work with multiple sellers. These problems and constraints were key points of information as we worked toward our VA login solution. 

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Prototyping wireframed concepts for user interviews

Overall, the user research validated that we were on the right track in supporting key tasks that VAs would do for Sellers without sharing passwords or private information.

Design

All of our great research helped me draw focus around the most important user needs, recognizing that the opportunity with VA and Seller workflows was quite broad. 

Access to stores without sharing passwords

Sellers are able to invite a TPT user to access their product listings under their own account.

Private information stays private

Assistants can create and edit products for a store, but can’t access sales or personal data.

Many-to-many support

Following what we learned in our initial research, our solution supports multiple assistants in a single store, and likewise, a VA can have multiple clients.

Create and edit products

We began with this core functionality, as it’s the most needed area that TPT could directly impact.

Example VA usage

Assistants have their own dashboard to see all the stores they’re connected to. Once invited by a seller, they will be able to access the product listings page for each of those stores in order to create and edit products.

Seller managing the VA and store

Sellers are able to invite as many VAs as they want, view their most recent activity, and instantly toggle the access of existing VAs, remove it completely.  

Adoption & Impact at 6 months

Within weeks of releasing this feature, we’ve heard that VA Login greatly increased Sellers’ productivity in their store. Looking at our usage data 6 months after launch, we saw it continuing grow. 

664

Sellers with VAs

714

VAs on the platform

17.6k

Edits made by VAs for Sellers in 6 months

2,000

VAs are averaging 2,000 actions a week – adding new content, editing, generating tracked marketing URLs

Considering that some of the top Sellers on the platform net several million dollars a year, being able to see hundreds of stores amplified with assistants making thousands of updates a week represents a considerable impact on the overall marketplace value, and other downstream impacts such as increased and improved inbound marketing to the site. 

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VA login is going to be such a game changer for sellers and TPT in terms of productivity. I love it!


Thank you Team TPT!

~ Forum post by an early adopter of VA login

VA login was a very positive experience. It was smooth sailing for both my VAs and myself. It enables 3 times the work to be completed in my store.


It would just be great if they could do even more!

~ Teacher-Author survey response
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A new dimension to the marketplace

As a lot of the user testimonials reflect, the new capability to have virtual assistants on the TPT marketplace has been a huge value, and they want to leverage it even more. From the outset, our team recognized the huge opportunity space but in order to set the right foundation we focused on the core user needs and concerns. 

We will continue to measure and iterate on the capabilities assistants have, with our next focus being on managing product Q&A on behalf of the seller, where they currently get a lot of questions from customers. 

Now with assistants collaborating on hundreds of stores, Sellers are more invested in and excited about TPT as a platform!

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