User Experience Design For Customer Tax Exemptions
Shopify is a commerce platform that enables merchants to sell to their customers on multiple sales channels both online and in person.
The existing checkbox made it impossible for merchants to accurately collect tax on orders placed by their customers with tax exemptions.
After receiving various support tickets around the limitations of the existing customer tax exemption feature, the project manager decided this would be the problem we solve for.
We used the design thinking framework to approach this problem.
MAJOR PAIN POINTS
To comply with tax laws and regulations, merchants were forced to endure costly workarounds every time their tax-exempt customers placed orders.
Since the product wasn't set up to deduct specific kinds of sales tax, the only way to accurately collect tax on orders from customers with specific tax exemptions was to do so manually.
This was time-consuming for merchants and made their tax reports inaccurate. On top of that, these workarounds resulted in a clunky customer experience for their buyers, as shown in the two examples below:
Customer is tax-exempt checked:
Pay the customer’s sales tax
The tax was completely removed from the order. When remitting to the government, merchants paid for the percentage of tax that should have been applied to the order.
Customer is tax-exempt not checked:
Refund for over-charging customer
The full tax amount was applied to the order. The merchant would calculate the percentage that should have been exempted from the order and refund it to the customer.
As the product designer, I created the end-to-end experience so it seamlessly integrated into Shopify's existing responsive web and native mobile apps.
Creation of UX design assets
Facilitation of design critique
Conducting usability tests
THE TAX TEAM
This project took 13 weeks to design and ship. I was part of the in-house R&D team.
Make it easy for merchants to process orders from their tax-exempt customers.
Together, we improved the customer tax exemption experience within Shopify’s web and mobile apps.
We worked in one-week sprints, both in-person and remote. Like any great team, we had ups and downs throughout the process.
Our weekly retrospective meetings helped us continually improve and build trust. We found ways to celebrate our wins and have fun along the way as we shipped product features that improved the experience for merchants and their customers.
SETTING THE SCOPE
We decided the first release of this feature would focus on merchants with customers in Canada
Each country has its own set of tax rules so it would take a long time to figure out all the customer tax exemptions in the world.
In order to deliver value quickly, we decided the first release of this feature would focus on Canadian customers only. Especially since most support tickets were coming from these specific merchants.
This approach allowed us to deliver value and get feedback as we continued to design and implement this feature in other countries.
However, it also placed some interesting constraints on the project. We would need to keep the "customer is tax-exempt" functionality for those who are using it for customers outside of Canada.
To stay consistent with our merchant's mental models, we opted to keep this feature on the customer profile page for now.
4 personas emerged from the journey map & secondary research
Secondary research included data from support tickets and past merchant interviews conducted during a past project regarding Canadian taxes.
We identified assumptions we had that informed the design and required further user research.
Personas helped identify key user flows
Based on the user flows I explored various concepts of key screens with low-fi wireframes
The wireframes were built in Sketch and exported to InVision clickable prototypes to gather feedback from merchant facing teams and stakeholders.
I turned two concepts into clickable wireframes to get early feedback from merchant facing teams
Usability testing with merchants validated assumptions and identified some UI issues to solve for the first release
Options are Overwhelming
"I sell to resellers and I charge GST and they have to claim it back. I wouldn't want to be on the hook for them not paying their taxes."
"There's no fishery that buys from my store. This might be overkill."
Tax detail card is benefical
“If we get audited, which we have, this makes it easier for us to explain why there's a tax exemption for each person.”
Annotated user flows helped streamline implementation
Considering various scenarios makes it clear to engineers how the components function based on store settings
Merchants couldn't accurately collect tax from exempt customers.
Merchants can accurately collect tax from exempt customers in Canada.
Below are videos of interactions within the live product: