Our MeCommerce Future

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  • 18 August 2015
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The FORGE is the future of collaboration, today. Built upon the guiding principles of The Foundry, The FORGE brings together people from across industries to understand, empathize and iterate on new ideas. But we don’t stop there. This collective of change agents are here to forge the future of creativity in the workplace and our everyday lives.

The Foundry was incredibly excited to host the first very first FORGE workshop focusing on personalization. The diverse group of 20+ people were presented with a challenge:

How might we improve retail experiences through personalization?


The impact personalization has on our everyday experiences is profound. The devices we carry in our pockets are becoming smarter, able to provide real-time context or even predict events heading straight for us. This very personal knowledge is extremely intimate, but can also be very valuable.

Although we’re still a ways from Minority Report style predictive “Pre-cogs,” we set our sites on how personalization can improve our retail experiences. With almost every channel, phase and customer in play, we challenged each person to see how far they could push their creativity and the boundaries of personalization.

The Road to Personalization

With workbooks in hand and the guardrails set, each person chose a partner to kick off the first exercise, an interview. How do they use technology? What are their goals, motivations, fears? And most importantly, what are they trying to overcome? With the broad set of questions, they dug deeper to understand the “why”, not just how they interact in the shopping realm. This uncovered more meaningful insights which helped them establish and create better problem statements in the next exercise.

“Sometimes the answer to the problem is hiding within the problem statement itself.”

– Tim Bowman

Individually, each person then described their problem statements based on the findings and insights from their interviews. The problem statements helped identify the user’s needs and the the value they were looking to realize, setting the stage for the ideation and prototyping portion of the workshop.

Sketching & Prototyping

Given just 5 minutes, each person was challenged to sketch as many prototypes as possible. Simply going for quantity, not quality, prototypes ranged from apps, physical products and new experiences. This gave way to some pretty radical ideas.

Now with many different prototypes to choose from, each person shared their solutions with their partners. By sharing their solutions and gathering feedback, everyone began to understand the importance of customer feedback. How their feedback can shape and drive a better, more personalized experience.


Taking all of their feedback into consideration, they began to iterate and bring it all together. Taking their one big idea and bringing it to life by sketching a new prototype. Then, with your standard Foundry prototyping tools they built mock-ups of their solutions for their partner to interact with and documented their adjustments.


With brand new prototypes in-hand, they shared their solutions with their partners. By allowing them to interact with the prototypes, they could see what worked, what could be improved and capture any new ideas that came to mind. This gives everyone the opportunity to become a true anthropologist.

Precog Status

None of the prototypes built were perfect. In fact, they were far from. But that was the point. And although we didn’t quite achieve “Pre-cog” status in this workshop, each person gained a better understanding of the importance of personalization and the role it plays in our everyday lives and decisions. How each individual uses a product is crucial to its creation, iteration and growth. And without personalization, everything becomes just another cog in the machine.

The FORGE workshop applies the methods and inspiration from the Standford d.School. We encourage you to learn more about their methods and classes!


Contributed by Tim Bowman and Nick Buckley. 78% of US



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