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Meet Bongwon — Product Design Director at Coupang

minute read

20220527 임직원 아티클 UX디자인 12

The Coupang Marketplace organization revolutionizes the entire process of e-commerce to help everyone who want to sell online to start their business on Coupang. Within this framework, product designers leverage their understanding of business and customers to lead the entire process of product design, from building product strategies to engaging in research, design and testing. How customers experience a product is shaped by these product designers who play a crucial role in all this. We met with Bongwon, Product Design Director, to find out more about the Coupang Marketplace Product Design team.


Nice to meet you, Bongwon. Before we start, could you tell us about yourself and your work?

Hello, I am Bongwon, Director of Product Design at Coupang. I joined Coupang about 2.5 years ago. Here at Coupang, I am in charge of all product experiences and post-purchase customer experiences from the Marketplace business.
My primary job is to define the priorities for the issues that need to be resolved in order to achieve the Marketplace business goals, to translate complex issues into actionable tasks and to participate in the design process of major projects and work with others to enhance customer experience. Another of my priorities is to establish a design culture and system – defining the roles and capabilities of the design team and its members, setting up the Marketplace standards for good product experience and developing and improving the design/work process.


We would like to know more about your previous career path. Also, please tell us about what brought you to Coupang.

Before Coupang, my work involved UX planning/design at those companies that provide social platforms or mobile products/services to global customers. What I did there was not too different from what I do at the Coupang Product Design team – making products with a business strategy focused on offering good customer experience; having an end-to-end ownership of UX, from building product strategies to engaging in customer research, design and development; and working towards the goal of servicing the global market.
I was living in Shanghai with my family for work until a few years ago when I decided to move back to Seoul for a new job. You could say that as a Coupang customer, I was a little behind other customers. Then I noticed that my wife quickly became a loyal customer, which led me to take more interest in Coupang. It was around that time when I was contacted by a Coupang recruiter. I was curious to find out about what Coupang was doing to revolutionize the shopping experience. I decided to go to the interview.
The interview panel was comprised of the leadership members of different nationalities and backgrounds. I was impressed by the extent of their expertise and how they explained the current status for Coupang and its roadmap in a transparent manner. I could see that they were confident and committed to realizing Coupang’s visions. If I were to join a team like that, I felt that I would play a greater role and have greater responsibilities in affecting people’s lives, that Coupang could go a step further and see an explosive growth. I decided to work at Coupang.

What are the biggest differences you experienced at Coupang compared to your previous workplaces?

Personally, I feel that the biggest differences are Coupang’s leadership principles, data-driven decision-making process and landing culture.
Rooted in a corporate culture represented by the Leadership Principles, everyone is self-driven at Coupang. These principles are more than just letters on paper; they are the basis of all of the decisions we make. It was impressive to see how Coupang leverages its well-defined frameworks that are designed to support people to live and breathe the principles.

Secondly, Coupang is data-driven. Instead of working solely on an individual’s idea, we set up various hypotheses and experiment before making any decision. It is all data that helps us to identify problems in the projects. It is also data that tells us if such problems are something that have to be addressed and if we have resolved them adequately.
Coupang is characterized by its landing culture. When we start something new, we don’t worry too much about getting it perfect the first time. We put invest hard and place greater value on launching the MVP product first, learning more about it quickly from customer feedback, making improvements and settling the best services possible. I think that this is what drove Coupang to enjoy such an accelerated growth.


What are the attributes of the product design work of Marketplace and the team?

The Coupang Marketplace organization has been committed to its vision of helping anyone who wants to sell online to start business on Coupang and succeed. When they do, they will in turn offer better values to Coupang customers. To make this happen, the Marketplace Product team develops a variety of products: products required to run a business – marketing websites and products that sellers need to list products and manage orders – as well as the seller stores that customers visit to purchase products.

In the Marketplace organization, designers have ownership of their own product in the full-stack product team comprised of product manager (PO), engineer and designer. Within this framework, the product designers use their understanding of the business and customers to lead the way across the entire process of product design, from building product strategies and engaging in research to doing tests and refining designs, shaping how customers experience our products. Throughout the process, they listen to the feedback of other designers during office hours, identify issues in the user testing and finalize the design after A/B tests.

One of the greatest strengths of the Marketplace Product team is that it is a global team comprised of members of diverse backgrounds and nationalities, motivating to learn more new things from each other. Because the Engineering team members are mostly based in Seattle, Mountain View and Shanghai, everyone is working remotely, as physical presence in the office does not create much synergy. Fluency in foreign language would make communication easier but even if you don’t speak another language, it will not affect collaboration at work as Coupang provides professional interpretation support at all meetings.