Reimagining the retail experience through crowdsourcing

Delivering Super-Fast UX/UI Design Explorations for a Stylish New Macys.com

From small, humble beginnings as a dry goods store in New York City, Macy’s has earned an iconic and celebrated brand status that permeates American pop culture. The Macy’s brands—Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury, are widely recognized as some of the nation’s premier retailers. The company operates approximately 680 department stores in 43 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. Macy’s is synonymous with timeless American style and memorable shopping experiences.


The Challenge

Macy’s approached Topcoder with a unique challenge: utilize crowdsourcing to execute a design thinking exploration live during the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s annual event— “The Big Show”. As e-commerce continues to dominate the retail landscape, the year’s event would focus more than ever on innovation, and Macy’s was eager to lead the charge.

The teams at Macy’s and Topcoder decided that the project with the largest upside was a total rethink of Macy’s most important digital asset, macys.com. While the current macys.com is strong from a transactional perspective, their leaders wanted to use crowdsourcing to push the boundaries on how key consumer experiences could be reimagined — with a focus on what these new experiences would deliver for their brand promise: to be the fashion authority.

Put differently: the challenge was to come up with multiple modern looks for a website that itself showcased multiple modern looks.




Deliver personalized outfitting via individual curation of styles and fashion.


Help move consumers away from a coupon-driven purchasing mindset and into a stronger value proposition focused on style, achievement, social influence, and emotionally rewarding experiences.


Explore concepts using modern technology opportunities such as AR, AI, shoppable video, and beyond.

Speed to Market

As model and mogul Heidi Klum says, “In fashion, one day you’re in. And the next day, you’re out.” Innovation requires bold decisions and fast action, making crowdsourcing a great fit for companies that want to experiment rapidly. The timeline for our macys.com design thinking exploration illustrates the point nicely:

  • Dec 29TH

    Topcoder presents a proposal to run a LUX (Live User Experience) design challenge at NRF

  • Jan 5TH

    Initial envisioning session, exploration, and planning

  • Jan 10TH

    Decision to focus on the redesign of macys.com; initial challenge specification created

  • Jan 12TH

    Finalized design challenge specification is approved and prepared to go live on Topcoder’s platform

  • Jan 14TH

    A “favorite feature” (an AI-based shopping assistant) is chosen by attendees at NRF and added to the challenge specification. The challenge is launched!

  • Jan 15TH

    A rolling checkpoint is performed to provide in-progress feedback to the designers

  • Jan 16TH

    In less than two days, the design challenge ends and the top concepts and design experiences are presented back to the team at Macy’s.

The Result

In under three weeks from initial idea to final results, Topcoder and Macy’s achieved incredible things. On the Topcoder Community side, 41 registrants (representing seven countries from around the globe) created 18 unique design concepts for a new macys.com. Over 180 unique screens were presented back to the team from Macy’s — all generated from this fast design challenge, completed in less than two days’ time.

Here are a few select images created during this rapid, innovative design challenge. With just a hint of the final results below, you can see the high-quality design, UI/UX exploration, and optionality delivered to Macy’s in record time.