OfferUp QR code Pay

Enhance and delight the in-person payment experience

OfferUp is the largest mobile marketplace. People can buy and sell locally easily. We launched hold offer for pickup to solve the problem that people flake a lot, which means buyers and sellers were messaging each other to confirm a meetup time, but one of them never show up. QR code Pay is part of this in-person payment journey.

My Role

UX designer

Project date

2018/10 – 2019/01


In-person usability study

Rapid prototyping





Who I work with

Product manager / Engineers / UX researcher

Customer experience team

The context

0. What is OfferUp

OfferUp is the largest mobile marketplace that people can buy and sell easily. Competitors include Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, Craigslist, eBay, Mercari, etc.

1. What is in-person payment?

The following diagram explained the happy path of in-person payment and where QR code pay lives.

2. The problem:  making a hold offer is a completely new behavior!

As a new behavior we want people to understand, people got confused at different points due to CX tickets we received from users.

The problems I’m trying to solve are:

  • Buyers and sellers don’t know if their transactions went through or not.
  • Buyers are paying too early before getting the item.

3. Why QR code Pay is one hypothesis to solve this problem

  • QR code Pay enhances a physical interaction between buyers and sellers: they both have to show up and participate in the transaction.
  • QR code Pay creates a real-time response so both buyers and sellers are seeing that feedback.
  • Low-cost technology: buyers and sellers don’t need fancy cell phones to do QR code Pay.

4. Goals

  • Create a delightful experience for both buyers and sellers to help them complete payment
  • Increase people’s engagement for meeting up locally

Design process

1. Understand the problem

I worked with PM & UX researcher to understand current business goals and user’s problems.

2. Define the goal and challenge

I worked with PM to define what’s the goal we want to achieve in this process, and understand what’s the challenges we’re facing.

3. Competitor analysis & Showcase

I did competitor analysis (Wechat Pay & AliPay) and reviewed the end-to-end flows with the core team to help people understand what are the current experiences for QR code payment area.

4. Usability study

The biggest design question I had is who should scan who. I wrote a test plan and did in-person usability testings to figure it out.

5. Iteration

I iterated several rounds of design before and after user testings.

6. Dogfooding and improving

We had a company-wide dogfooding together. Employees tested this feature with other employees during lunch. I was observing how people reacted to this feature. Lots of great feedbacks were taken from this exercise.

As a product designer, I’m always passionate about the feature I built. (I’m pretty active on OfferUp. Now I had 43 reviews, which means 63 sales, 9 purchases). I tested with multiple buyers and sellers in the real world. I didn’t tell them I was OfferUp employee at first. So I can see how they like or not.

I’m super active! I mean it


1. Who should we charge service fee is unsure at the beginning.

We were testing different markets to decide who should we charge the service fee, buyers or sellers, or both parties, or no one. So when I designing this flow, I have to think about all of those scenarios. After testing in multiple markets, we decided to move forward with charging seller’s fee.

2. Known risks exist

A couple of risks for this feature we can foresee:

  • We don’t know when the market will digest this feature. (Behavior changing)
  • We’re not sure if people are going to question the necessity of this process. (Value prop)

Quick in-person usability study

The people I tested are within our company but get no exposure to the product line, such as HR, salespeople, new customer experience employee, etc. I tested 3 versions of prototypes for buyers and sellers to learn the behavior:

  1. Buyer scans seller
  2. Seller scans buyer
  3. Buyer & seller can scan both

Surprisingly, the result is completely different from I learned from my competitor analysis. In China, people get used to scanning another person’s code to pay. They get scanned by paying business vendors with POS machine to pay. But in my user testings, people feel more comfortable with seller scans buyer’s code, which is completely reversed from China’s behavior.

User testing prototype 1

Buyer scans seller

This is what the Chinese market gets used to, approved by billions of people. So we thought this could work for Americans. But it didn’t.

User testing prototype 2

Seller scans buyer (The winner!)

People gave us their reason: Buyer giving seller QR code to scan can be a metaphor of buyer taking money out of the wallet and giving to the seller.

User testing prototype 3

They both can scan

Surprisingly, this is the most confusing one for people.

Where I landed

This is the final version I landed. There are still lots of improvement I’m currently working at. The team quickly implemented this version and we’re testing this feature in Seattle.

Project Details

Date: April 10, 2019

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