Overview \


Product Studio at Cornell Tech

3 Months

Product designer

DesignChallenge from Estée Lauder

How might we use internet-enabled devices to better understand consumers and provide them with high-touch, personalized experiences across digital and in-store channels?



A mobile application enables a seamless cosmetic shopping experience which connects both online and offline channels through geolocation. It allows customers to try cosmetic products without searching and planning. It also empowers the virtual community by generating more valuable instant reviews.



Background \


Our Team

Huimin Hu | Designer
Siyu Yao | Developer
Yue Wang | Developer
Maria Luisa Garduño | MBA
Yanni Dan | Data Analyst

Estée Lauder Advisory Team

Ophelia Ceradini
Laura Rowan
Simon Wallis 
Erika A.P.
Rolnick Jenna

About Product Studio

Every fall, leading startups, companies, and organizations in NYC pose business challenges to Cornell Tech.

In Product Studio, students develop and present new products, services and strategies that respond to those challenges. There are 3 design sprints alongside the semester long class.




853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

119 5th Ave, New York, NY 10003

119 5th Ave, New York, NY 10003


Key findings

Online and in-store channels have different inventory.

Most items in the shopping cart and wishing list are forgotten.

Many store visitors just drop by, aimlessly looking around to kill time.

Everyone reads reviews but no one writes them.

People typically trust the opinion of their friends over that of trusted reviews.

Vacationers, the most generous buyers, don't understand the labels due to language barriers.


Insights after observing

People strategically leverage both online and offline platforms to shop their ideal products. Unfortunately, shopping online can be lacking in a satisfying and high-touch experience. Even millennials, who obsessed with e-commerce, still want to touch and feel the real product in physical store. 

Problem and opportunity

There is a delay between the moment a shopper adds a product into her shopping cart and then goes to the store to test the product. They most likely forget it or never search it again.



We came up with 50 ideas to approach the problem and narrowed them down to a list of 15 for internal voting. We only focus on analyzing the feasibility on top 5 ideas.

Tata Innovation Center

Tata Innovation Center

15 approaches

✓ Location detection system
✓ Personal beauty portfolio
✓ Smart cosmetics organizer
✓ Shopping together virtually
✓ Smart shelf
Smart mirror+travel shopping
Experience center
Social media sharing
Video enhancer
Photo wall in store
Map game
Context-diagnose tool
A browser plug-in
Ads scanning application
Family/friends AR experience




Prototype MVP

After assessing business models, technical challenge and design constraints we built our initial MVP that best represented our core design value, called COSMO.

Potential users are active shoppers, busy professionals, and international travellers.

We chose to build our solution on mobile because it has the best mobility. The mobile app can actively recommend nearby stores and walk the users to try the products that have been saved in their shopping carts during their leisure time.


MVP version 1


Test and validate

We tested and validated our road lockers and design decisions on location sharing, personalization and the best platform on mobile for final MVP.


location sharing

Tested privacy concern on a landing page. The survey showed most of people are fine with location sharing if they have the control of turn it on and off.


Conducted a usability test on an InVision prototype. Users were able to navigate our initial prototype and finished the task we assign.

Final platform

Researched the possibility on WeChat mini app and we found technically hard to implement and deal with data compatibility issue within a short period of time.



Sprint 3 \


Pivot and iterate

Based on the testing and research findings, we pivoted and modified key features and delivered our final MVP with the following key functions.

Target users

Shift to busy young professional user segment form active shoppers.


We decided to only focus on mobile application.

QR code

Leverage QR code to help offline store to connect their online profile to provide personalized service besides log in their visit for free samples.

Instant review

Added a new feature that allows user leave reviews right after their products testing and they get a sample as a reward.


Final delivered MVP


Build MVP

After refining our main features and design, our developers built our interactive MVP on Xcode for iOS system.

Enjoy our demo below!


Demo \



As a founder of my own startup, I like to relax myself by browsing online after a long busy day. Last week, I saw a skin creme that I liked and wanted to buy, but it is expensive and I don’t want to spend $395 on one product before I know what it smells like and how it feels.


Sophia added the Estée Lauder’s RE-NUTRIV creme into her shopping wishlist before she went to the bed. Next couple days, she forgot about this product due to the busy schedule.

Here is where COSMO comes in




A notification pops up on her phone when she is on her way to the gym after long day work. It notifies her the RE-NUTRIV is available at an Estée Lauder store, which is only 5 minutes away. She is interested and clicks Go Test. Navigation page pop up and walk her to the store.


Product detail

While she is waiting for the traffic light, she can also review the product details.


QR code

When she arrives at the store, a beauty assistant scans her QR code to pull out her profile that has her basic information and shopping list. Based on her profile, the beauty assistant get to know what product she wants to test and which products may also great for her to try.


In store

Sophia gets to try the product and knows it fits her skin type well. She also loves the smell of the cream.


Sophia’s review

I love shopping for cosmetics, but, when it comes to shopping online, I hesitate to place the order especially with the expensive ones. COSMO tracks my favorite products for me and allows me to test them by walking me to the store without my planning ahead! It saves me time and provides the products that fit my needs.

Instant Review

She takes less than a minute to finish her review and afterwords she gets a free sample.

She either can leave and app screen return back to home screen, or

Shopping list

if she want to get more samples, she can pull out full online shopping list and try another available one.

testing list.png


Aftermath \


Open studio

Our team was Invited to present in the Open Studio event to more than 500 professionals. Sakes Fifth Ave showed interest in our product after the presentation.

View final slides



A builder Mindset
Applying design thinking to innovation process and development helps all disciplines to solve real-world problem. We strive to be a builder!

The best ideas are brought to life when people from different backgrounds come together to support and inspire each other. As a team player, we should take ownership.

Retail industry is evolving!



Other Design Work