In-context research to inform the design of a new point of sale payment solution

User Experience & Usability

The challenge

A payment services and software provider was looking to launch a new electronic point of sale (ePOS) system within the UK. With an aim to deliver smart and innovative payment solutions to small and mid-size merchants, they wanted to understand the merchants’ needs and behaviours in order to inspire development tailored to the UK market.

In line with the challenge, the research objectives were;

  • To use observation and customer interviews to understand what matters most to customers in their day-to-day activities and understand the ecosystem (tasks, roles, system, processes, environment) into which the ePOS solution would fit.
  • To explore how well the design of the client’s ePOS currently in use in other European markets would fit into that space and support user needs and identify any gaps.

What we did

To address the breadth of research questions and discovery nature of the project, we took an ethnographic approach to the research.

Through a series of in-context sessions, we observed how the current ePOS systems were being used within different environments and conducted user interviews with staff for further insights on the system’s capabilities.

We visited a total of 10 merchants (7 simple and 3 mid-tier) across a range of industries to observe the ePOS solution in use in context. We observed the ePOS in use for approximately 2 hours, spoke with the decision makers at each merchant site, and viewed both the front- and back-end of their ePOS system. We took photographs and video recorded the interactions for evidence and analysis purposes.

Photos of consultants carrying out research on payment systems

By conducting the research with a variety of industries, from gastro pubs to launderettes, we could collect a rich and diverse set of data to explore what worked and didn’t work in their ePOS system currently. This included analysis of tasks such as monitoring stock, generating table settings, providing delivery services and applying discounts to sales.


The research resulted in a wide range of insightful findings for the client. We were able to understand what merchants needed and wanted from an ePOS system, as well as areas for improvement and development within the system.

The findings would enable our client to innovate and elevate their design beyond existing solutions by harnessing new opportunities and addressing pain points and shortcomings in existing ePOS experiences.

Deliverables from System Concepts included a detailed report, with clear opportunities and insights, 10 merchant profiles (to help bring the insight, stories and experiences to life), and video highlights showcasing key areas of interest.

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