Personas of Chinese “Cross-Border Online Shopper”

As salaries have risen in China, Chinese middle class consumers have increased their number of purchases on imported goods. However,  due to their unwillingness to wait  for the latest products and best prices, the middle class has directed their attention to purchase from foreign retailers and suppliers at the click of a mouse or at the swipe of a screen. While US e-commerce leader Amazon has been increasingly active in China, China’s major e-commerce site,, was planning its cross-border site.

Team: Yuzhou Guo, Beibei Zhang
My Role: User Research Lead
Methods: Contextual Inquiry, Persona, Experience Mapping
Date: Mar-Apr, 2015


The project was to assist the production team prepare for cross-border site to know more about its target audiences: their demographic information, consumption value, and current shopping pet peeves, etc.

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To fully understand what our target audiences are looking for when they are cross-border shopping online, my work partner and I spent many hours at their home and office observing and communicating with them while they were searching for products. We were very attentive to their feedback.

While mother’s were looking after their kids, they would  purchase baby products through their mobile phones because they not only thought overseas products were safer but purchasing through cross-border e-commerce websites could save a lot more money.


Young office ladies made purchases on and checked-out all their products in one single order because  of the free shipment policy which entailed customers to spend over 199 US dollars.


Yuccies searched for the lasted version of go-pro on its official website because it was currently unavailable in China.


During this process, they were very frustrated.  Most importantly, we paid close attention to the things they did not say – the inexpressible “gotchas” that restrict users from receiving the best out of their shopping experience.


We developed personas of Chinese cross-border shoppers through qualitative research, and validated it through the method of quantitative research.

By Conducting qualitative research revealed insights into users’ shopping  goals, behaviours and habits. We segmented our users into four groups: Generation Y moms, fashionista, intellectual elites and savvy college students.

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Through the survey data, we validated these four personas by a cluster analysis which mapped out each persona’s demographic feature, purchase category preference, consumption value, and purchase scenario. As a result, it gave us a better understanding of who are our target users and what goals drive their behaviour of when and where they buy and how they make purchase decisions.

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Personas are a critical method for associating designs and development teams to user experiences. It also engages teams to truly be mindful of the users during the design process to make efficient decisions without inappropriate generalizations. In this case we used personas mainly to build support for a chosen design to communicate with users and to understand their needs.

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