Zello · 2019

Boosting sales

for local retailers

Made for
Zello Tech
My role
Product Designer
Thumbnails of Nobolso projects User Interface



In early 2020 during the pandemic, local businesses were heavily impacted. Working collaboratively with the local trading federation, our team at Zello was assigned to conceptualize a platform to help local merchants boost their sales and help customers save more money.

The platform also had to be profitable, allowing it to grow and become a sustainable business. Key business stakeholders suggested a cashback platform for local retailers. Cashback platforms were getting very popular around the country, but most of the cash flow was heading to other estates.

In early discovery workshops I had facilitated, some outstanding questions emerged:

  • How could we attract merchants to perceive value and extract real benefits by joining this platform?
  • And how could we get consumers to buy from these merchants using the platform? Why would someone join?
  • Will this be a viable business?
Spoiler alert! This is not a success story. Though it's a story about how early Product Discovery can help startups revise their strategies by asking the right questions.
Hacienda Alsacia visitor center gate
Our goal was to help local merchants boost their sales during the pandemic while providing customers a way to save more money when shopping.



To further explore these questions, we started with a consumer survey to verify how and in what frequency people use similar platforms. Because of COVID-19, we then interviewed some of these users using WhatsApp. A competitive analysis paired with previous research gave us more insights to sketch the first prototypes for the consumer app.

Interviewing merchants was very constructive, and we noticed that getting them to partner with a platform has many challenges. Amongst them were: technical obstacles to integration, fear of competition, and the different amounts of discount they could provide. In combination with a Lean Business Canvas, the research was key to change our approach later on.

While working on the branding, I decided to use blue and yellow colors to stand out, primarily for printed publicity. The logo has an arrow representing the money coming back while also meaning a smile when used on our mascot. It has a fun and bold vibe, but not too much since we would deal with financial services.

Nobolso Cashback

After gathering all this data and pairing it with stakeholders' business strategies, I designed the first concept of Nobolso. A cashback platform with a mobile app to check local deals and a web platform with insights for merchants.

Landing page screenshots of Hacienda Alsacia
Landing page screenshots of Hacienda Alsacia

The consumer mobile app

For consumers, I designed a digital wallet to check the current cashback balance with the ability to transfer it to other users. There's also a screen to verify each activity, like incoming cashback and payments, and discounts. On the partner's tab, the user can locate cashback deals nearby and with the ability to filter by category. The team developed a tool to identify each purchase using the user's CPF (Brazilian ID).

Landing page screenshots of Hacienda Alsacia
Landing page screenshots of Hacienda Alsacia
Landing page screenshots of Hacienda Alsacia

Find local deals and save money

  • Digital wallet - After signing up, the home screen shows the current cashback balance and the option to retrieve or transfer to other users.
  • Search local cashback deals - It is easy to locate cashback deals nearby from the platform's partners with a map view, search, and filters.
  • Payment activity - Users can verify each activity, like incoming cashback and processed payments and transfers.
  • Transfer money - There's also the ability to transfer their balance to other users, maintaining the cash inside the platform's Escrow account.

Boost your sales and get valuable insights

Merchants had to provide access to their invoice system to identify which sales were made using CPF. To manage all the purchases, we created a web application for merchants. There, they can track sales and cashback generated.

Since we had valuable information about consumer buying history, we brought a consumer insights view to the platform using the RFM strategy for customer segmentation.

Instead of analyzing the entire customer base, the RFM can segment them into homogeneous groups, understand each group's traits, and engage them with relevant campaigns using push notifications to the Nobolso app.

Landing page screenshots of Hacienda Alsacia
Landing page screenshots of Hacienda Alsacia

The Outcome

During our interviews with local merchants, I found some challenges that weren't identified by our stakeholders initially. Technical constraints, fear of competing with similar businesses inside the platform, and others. Merchants wouldn't be joining as easily and fast as stakeholders expected. We tried pivoting and brainstorming possible solutions.

Even though merchants liked the customer insights feature during our tests, it wasn't enough since we didn't have a large customer base. Another critical strategy assumption was that we could use a 1.2 million existing user base by partnering with the local trading federation. Which didn't happen.

After presenting our research results, stakeholders decided to archive the project since the business wouldn't grow as fast as expected.

Key learnings

  • Product discovery can save time and money. We can't assume stakeholders have all the answers with a bullet-proof strategy. Interviewing potential customers and merchants provided vital insights to help make tough decisions later.
  • Identify your unique value proposition. Most of the project's value propositions eventually became partially true or were affected by external reasons. This can make or break a business. Some founders may pivot or move on to something else.
  • Adapting the research. Due to the pandemic, using WhatsApp to do our qualitative research allowed us to start conversations with more people than we expected.


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