Introducing
Amazon
Train
Booking Experience
.

Amazon recently launched the train booking experience on their mobile app. 

This was an MVP launch and was introduced on Android app and mobile website to begin with. The basic functionalities which were performed by the users include:

Ticket Booking: Users would be able to book train tickets using Amazon Pay. 

Seat & Quota Availability: Users will also be able to check the seat and quota availability across all train classes on the Amazon app

 

PNR Status: User will also be able to check the PNR status of the ticket booked on Amazon. PNR status of tickets booked via other mediums cannot be checked on Amazon for now. 

Other Features: The user can also download and cancel tickets booked via Amazon. Amazon is encouraging users to pay using Amazon Pay Balance to get instant refund in case of cancellations or booking failures.

My Role

I worked as an individual contributor on this project. I handled the Product Design - User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) . I was closely working with the Developers & Product Managers. 

Company

Amazon
(Trains is part on AmazonPay)

Year

2018-2019

Platform

PWa, Android App

User Research

Secondary Research

Wireframing

Screen Flows

Visual Design

Interaction Design

Design System

Skills

Tools

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Research & Insights

The design process consisted mainly of doing secondary research to understand the product, users, the approach and the client & their requirement better. 

Rise of online train ticket booking

While IRCTC remains the only government-run ticketing platform for the railways, private players began entering the online train ticket booking business in India around the early 2000s. Train ticketing became one of the fastest-growing verticals within the online ticketing market. I did some secondary research to understand how the growth has taken place. 

The increased use of internet by people across the country is evident from the fact that the percentage of internet ticketing passengers overtook the percentage of counter ticketing passengers for the first time in 2014-15.

13L+

train tickets
booked per day

90%

growth in number of tickets booked in past 5 years

15k

tickets per minute is the Ticket Booking Capacity

3k

enquires per second

The Railway Ministry has introduced multiple checks to stop the misuse of Internet Ticket booking facility by the user of automated software. The checks have been introduced both at the time of registration as well as booking. 

Understanding the user

Amazon Trains is powered by IRCTC and it is essential to understand the users behaviour before moving to designing the experience. I interviewed a few people to understand better how they make train bookings and what hurdles they face. 

Major travel booking is done on IRCTC website

IRCTC has a trust factor with users

Worry of hidden costs on third party apps/ websites

Long and tedious process of creating IRCTC account

Attracting factor is offers and discounts

IRCTC website tends to be slow at times

Third party websites still have a IRCTC login/ sign up

 Overload of information

“IRCTC have improved a lot lately ,but still the navigation through the website is a bit difficult."

“Sometimes the IRCTC website automatically logs me out.”

“Third party websites have hidden charges.”

“All train option does not displayed, which can get confusing.”

Alternate options easily available for seamless booking

Understanding the Problem

While IRCTC remains the only government-run ticketing platform for the railways, private players began entering the online train ticket booking business in India around the early 2000s. Train ticketing became one of the fastest-growing verticals within the online ticketing market. Today there are a number of online platforms offering this service. 

  • There are a number of parameters that need to be addressed while building a train ticketing product. These are mostly laid out by the IRCTC and can get quite cumbersome

  • Since IRCTC allowed private players to sell train tickets as well, the competition has increased, which also means there is an increasing need to understand the pain points of the users

  • Train booking is not a very profitable business for companies and they need to find different revenue streams. This is mainly due to low margins and high government regulations.

Areas of Improvement

Identifying Design requirements

Based on interviews and business requirements, basic design and tech requirements were identified. These were then segregated so that it would give a direction during the designing and ideation.

Clean & easy to understand interfaces & flows 

Easily accessible information

Quick actions should be easily accessible

Train availability should be colour coded so that easy to understand

Maximise efficiency by making the product fast

Use of colours to indicate necessary information easily

Regular feedback for usability and any painpoints

Cognitive load should be reduced

Tatkal functionality should work seamlessly

Benchmarking

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Ideation

Creating the flow

After working on the wireframes and initial iterations, final screens were worked created. These were designed keeping in mind the requirements of the users. A Usability Testing was also carried out in order to validate the designs better with the users. 

Testing & Release

How testing impacted design.

The designs were tested with the users before moving them into development. 

  • Train booking is very data heavy but regular travellers are very attuned to seeing the information in the certain way. 

  • A lot of iterations were made for the landing page and some were tested out with the users and some internally to understand whether the page was creating cognitive load or it was easy to understand. 

  • Regular train travellers easily understand the short forms like RLWL, RAC, PQWL, etc. These didn't create a hindrance during the train booking journey. 

  • The train selection process was made easy by giving the users various options for the IRCTC Login which is a mandate for booking a train ticket. 

The MVP for Amazon trains was launched in 2020 for Android and MWeb. 

My Takeaways

This was a very interesting experience and had its own unique challenges. Some of my key takeaways were:

  • IRCTC Trains is a government sector and has a lot of restrictions on train booking. Enhancing user experience in this area was a very interesting challenge.

  • Since a long time IRCTC (the official website) has had a huge hold over the train booking experience. A large part of the users have a sort of a trust factor when it comes to booking train tickets on another app. There were a lot people who were willing to go through a bad experience only because of the trust factor.

  • Train tickets get sold over minutes and seconds. There are also Tatkal booking slots which get filled up really fast. Having a robust system to support the user experience is very important when it comes to booking a train ticket.

  • There is a lot of information which the user needs to consume when booking a ticket in a short span of time. The visual design and hierarchy is very important as it would aid in booking a ticket faster.

  • Train tickets are booked by people across all age groups and categories. The information needs to be easy to understand and the journey should be seamless.