OfferUp – Hold Offer redesign

OfferUp is the largest mobile marketplace. People can buy and sell locally easily. OfferUp launched Hold Offer to support in-app payment. Buyers can secure that great deal or difficult to find item by committing to an offer in advance with a payment method. In exchange, sellers will hold items exclusively for them to pick up in person. By accepting a Hold Offer, sellers get a higher intent purchase that eliminates time spent on the back and forth with many interested buyers.

My Role

Sole UX designer

Who I work with

Product manager, UX researchers, Content strategist, Engineers, Data analyst, Customer experience team

Project length

10 months (2018/10-2019/08)

Project size



Launched in June 2019 nationwide and got positive feedbacks from users

Challenge: Ramp it up nationwide

I got the task to ramp up the V1 Hold Offer to nationwide. As a new product feature, it was born with both imperfections and potentials. Our goal was to remove needle as much as we can, launch it nationwide, and let the magic happen.

The high level goals are:

  1. Make it simple, easy to everyone who wants to buy and sell locally
  2. Monitor metrics and improve completion rate


As a C2C product, there are 4 metrics we are looking at:

  1. Acceptance rate, decline rate, expiration rate
  2. Completion rate
  3. Engagement rate
  4. Retention rate

Design principles

  • Simple and easy
  • Trust and safety


1. Understand


NPS survey

Competitor analysis

2. Design

Design sprint



3. Research



Usability studies

4. Evaluate & repeat

Launch features incrementally

Unserstand problems

To understand user problems, we digged in to chat thread and sorted each thread out to know why they didn’t complete transactions.

We found 3 problems:

1. Lack of commitment

Seller or Buyer flake, Buyer changed mind, Seller sold to someone else, Seller doesn’t want to hold item for buyer.

This problem drives completion rate.

2. Lack of value

Cash paid at meetup, Seller wants cash, Seller doesn’t want to set up deposit, Seller unable to set up deposit, Buyer wants cash, Seller doesn’t want fee, Venmo/PayPal/Zelle etc paid at meetup, Seller wants Venmo/PayPal/Zelle/etc.

This problem drives acceptance rate/rejection rate.

3. Lack of education

Seller doesn’t know how to use Hold, Buyer thinks they have already paid, Used like Make Offer.

This problem drives completion rate.

1. Lack of education

Feature 1: QR code pay

(Feature size: L)

I designed in the early stage to solve the problem of lack of education.

/ Problem

People don’t know they need to complete transaction in app when they meet up.

  • Some of them are still using cash
  • Some of them didn’t take any action. The transactions are expired.

/ Design tenets

Based on usability study and our personas, here are 3 tenets I came up with:

  • Intuitive: Seller scan buyers is more intuitive than buyer scan seller
  • Transparent: Both seller and buyer need to understand how much money they are getting and paying
  • Flexible: Buyer should be able to negotiate when they meet up
  • Tolerant: If they forget to release payment in meetup, they can finish the transaction later without having to meet up.

/ Use flow

/ Iteration & Validation

How to validate:

  • I partnered with my PM to run in-person usability study
  • I worked with the team to run company-wide group study

/ Final design

/ Impacts

Based on our NPS survey results, both buyers and sellers think it’s extremely easy to use.

“It was the first time for me and the seller to use this feature, but it was easy to use and was successful.”

“I had someone come and purchase something from me using the barcode to pay. It was quick and easy and great!!”

2. Lack of commitment

Feature 2: Hold w/ consequences

(Feature size: XL)

Next step, I designed hold with consequence to drive more commitment.

Competitor analysis : To understand what drives more commitment, I worked with UX researcher to conduct competitor analysis including Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Booking, Opentable.

Design sprint : To generating ideas quickly, I partnered with our UX researcher to organize a one-day design sprint within the team. Instead of getting people together for 5 days, we did lightening talkes, HMW(how might we), Crazy 8s’, Sketch and vote in one day.

Usability study : To figure out people’s mental model, the flow, and usability, I worked with two UX researchers to run 2 rounds usability studies.

/ Design sprint

/ Final design

/Design tenets

Based on the results for NPS survey and usability study, I came up with 3 design tenents:

  1. We give sellers choice to charge $5 fee or not. Their judgment is fair enough to make sure buyers are happy with the results.
  2. If the sale expires after 6 days, the fault is on buyers because buyers could have cancaled the sale ahead to make sure the item is re-opened for the marketplace. (Based on the fact that seller is responsible enough to reply every questions.)
  3. Punishment can’t happen before education. If users don’t know how to use this feature, we can’t punish them first then.

3. Lack of value

Feature 3: Chat components

(Feature size: L)

I designed a new set of chat components to show the value upfront for sellers.

/ Final design



What’s happend:

  • QR code pay – launched in Jan, 2019
  • Hold with consequences & Chat components has been paused because Hold Offer has been turned down.


  • Ramped up Hold Offer to nationwide on June 2019
  • Increased engagement by 5%
  • Improved completion rate by 30%

It’s the latest attempt by the well-heeled startup to differentiate its 8-year-old mobile marketplace from competitors, including Craigslist, eBay and Facebook Marketplace. 

Hold Offers improve the buyer-seller experience by giving sellers assurance that the buyer is serious, and provide both parties with the convenience and safety of integrated digital mobile payments.

“But for the first time since launching in 2011, OfferUp wants to add in-person digital payments for items bought and sold through its mobile app, aiming to solve pain points for buyers and sellers anxious about closing local deals.”

Project Details

Date: April 10, 2019

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