Trada is an online wholesale marketplace that helps independent retailers purchase unique merchandise from local brands and makers
Product Design Lead
Skills I Used
What is Trada?
Shopping local is a noble idea, but as with all things in life, it comes with its own set of challenges. Local brands (also known as makers) often have a hard time getting discovered, while shopkeepers (also known as retailers) struggle to find new unique products to stock their stores with.
Traditionally, this problem was solved by physical tradeshows, where makers and retailers can mingle and discover each other in person. Makers could spotlight their unique products and the personality behind the brand, while retailers were able discover new products to stock in their store.
However, tradeshows were only held a few times a year. They are also not the most efficient when brands and retailers are spread across the country, especially one as big as Australia. And with COVID-19, many physical tradeshow event were cancelled.
Enter Trada — a dedicated marketplace for makers and retailers to discover each other, at any time of the year. Trada Marketplace was first launched in Australia, where the maker culture and shop local movement is strong.
When Shekhar, a colleague and good friend of mine, approached me with the idea of Trada Marketplace, we quickly discovered that aesthetics would be one of the key factors of success.
In order to grow the marketplace, we first need to attract the right type of makers to list their products on Trada. We soon learned that these makers, though diverse in nature, have one thing in common: They have a keen eye for design and are selective where their products are sold. So, we needed to look good from the get-go in order to win their confidence and earn their trust.
As the lead (and only) designer of Trada, I was responsible for the end to end design:
I defined the design language for Trada
Used that design language to develop their marketing site and the core product
Designed experience for all the admin required to run the marketplace
I also defined the look and feel of Trada's social media and marketing collaterals.
In addition, we were operating as a team of two (the founder and I). I also contributed to front-end development for the early marketing website and product.
At its core, Trada is looking to solve the problem of the following two types of customers:
Makers, also known as "brands". Makers are local craft brands who have had some success in selling their products on their own, and looking to level up their business to the next stage by selling wholesale. However, they often have a hard time getting discovered by a wholesaler. On top of that, makers are usually picky about who they list their products with - the shop needs to reflect their brand values and they often do not want to list their product with a big brand store.
Retailers, also known as "sellers". Retailers are small independent shops selling a niche product. They struggle to find new unique products to stock their stores with. Like makers, retailers are equally as picky about which product they stock, as it needs to align with their own values too.
In order to attract the desired type of makers, the look and feel of Trada needed to match their brand aesthetic. At the same time, it needs to be neutral and versatile. All kinds of brands and products would need to look good when displayed on Trada, without being too overpowered. To tackle this, I came up with neutral tones and clean design elements which became the overarching design language of Trada.
Trada Product Experience
The product experience of Trada can be divided into three experiences:
1. Public experience
2. Retailers experience
3. Makers experience.
1. The Public Experience
The public experience of Trada starts from the marketing website, where anyone can come and learn about Trada. We prioritize the marketing site experience for potential retailers, as makers are actively signed up through offline efforts as part of our growth strategy.
Anyone can browse Trada for makers and view their products. However, the public experience ends on product page. From then on, we require everyone to sign up to place an order and view the wholesale price - upon which they are converted into a retailer.
If there are Makers who came to Trada on their own and interested in signing up, we have a section called "Sell with us" where they can learn about Trada and the benefits of signing up with Trada.
2. The Retailer Experience
Once a visitor signs up and becomes a retailer, the product turns into a full e-commerce website where retailer can shop for different products from various makers. They can filter based on the values they want the makers to have, as well as minimum orders or location.
Each maker who signs up with Trada are given their own store where they can showcase products and brand values / stories, so that retailers can learn about their values before making their purchase decision.
The retailer shopping experience includes a checkout flow, which is slightly more complicated than your usual run-of-the-mill shopping cart experience. It needs to cater to having multiple makers in one cart, and each of them would have different minimum order value.
Shopping cart can be previewed without disrupting the shopping experience through a sidepanel that can be opened up anywhere on the site without having to navigate away.
Once an order has been placed, retailers can look back to their order and review its status - whether the order is awaiting acceptance, has been accepted by the retailer, or shipped.
3. The Makers Experience
On the Makers side, makers would need manage the orders received from retailers. As makers tend to be selective about who is selling their product and where they are selling, we include all these information in the orders page, so they have everything they need to make their decisions quickly in one place.
Makers also require product management, which is heavier on admin features. Makers must be able to add and delete products, define prices and upload images corresponding to the product, among other things.
In order to help Trada build presence on social media, I created templates for social media marketing collateral (in this case Instagram stories), to be used on paid marketing outreach for brands and makers.
I created icons styles to illustrate makers values we wanted to show off: made in Australia, eco-friendly, handmade, women-owned, sold on brick and mortar, social responsibility, all natural, animal-friendly, and fair trade.
On the design operation side of things, I built a Design System using sketch library (which I've since rebuilt in Figma) to define all the colors, design elements and components used on Trada.
In the future if we have another designer joining, it would be easy to implement existing components and add new components. I also made sure each component is responsive and that all states of the component has been considered.
Within the first few months of launch, Trada managed to convince 130 high quality makers to trust and list their product with Trada.
Trada website experience received glowing reviews from makers and retailers, and became the key factor that drives our audience to trust the marketplace.
Here are snippets from customer testimonials which reflect how our makers feel about the Trada design language and website. Customer names have been anonymized for privacy:
"I love the site, it's clean and easy to use" - An Accessories & Apparel maker from Adelaide, Australia
"The Trada portal is easy to navigate and all the information you need can be seen on one page" - A natural skincare maker from Australia
Where Trada is now
Since its inception in 2019, Trada has continued growing to be one of the major players in the B2B marketplace of Australia. In 2021, I had the chance to continue my work further in Trada - one of them was through improving discovery and recommendations.