Pie Systems

Helping merchants attract & serve global customers​


Pie Systems is a Denmark-based company that provides a digital service where merchants can facilitate, and consumers can claim, VAT (Value-Added Tax) refunds through their mobile app.
Goods and services sold in Europe often have a “value added tax” (VAT) applied to the purchase (10-25%). Tourists have the option to claim tax refunds for goods and services purchased at participating tax-free stores.

Currently, this refund process is manual and requires paperwork. Travelers receive a tax-free form at the point of sale, and have to wait in line at the airport and present this paperwork at a refund service office to get their refund processed.

Pie System’s VAT refund app aims to simplify this process for both the merchant and traveler through their fully digitized service. Merchants simply provide a QR for tourists to scan through the app. Then tourists simply upload their traveler information, boarding pass, and pictures of their receipt and purchase. No paperwork, no lines.


For this project, we focused on designing for merchants who want to provide tax-free shopping options for tourists.

Project Goal

Design a tool that enables merchants to securely issue/manage VAT refunds for tourists, act on customer insights, and track revenue goals.


Product Designer
Collaborated with 2 other designers, engineer, business development & marketing stakeholders, and Founder


Research Synthesis, Ideation, Information Architecture, Visual Design, Interactive Prototyping


The current merchant dashboard web app lacks a secure flow for merchants to issue/manage VAT refunds, understand customer insights trends, and track revenue goals.


Restructuring the information architecture based on insights revealed through merchant interviews created a more secure and actionable tool for merchants to manage the VAT refund process.


Synthesizing user research

The Pie Systems team based in Europe went on a listening tour to talk to merchants to understand their needs & motivations in the VAT refund process. We chatted with the team to better understand how merchants were currently solving for the problem of handling VAT refunds, and the motivations behind using a third-party refund service similar to Pie VAT.
We summarized tasks and motivations into the following job stories:
Primary use cases for using services like Pie VAT revealed in research:
1. Creating a new refund or managing existing refunds
2. Understanding customer insights to make business decisions
3. Generating reports for book-keeping purposes

pain points

I also synthesized merchant feedback on Pie System’s current dashboard experience with my design partner and identified the following key pain points:
Lack of Privacy
Since merchants use the dashboard web app to provide tourists with a QR code to scan, store sales information are currently visible to customers upon opening the app.
Poor Visibility into Data
Merchants want better visibility into how much revenue share they are getting through VAT refunds processed with Pie VAT, as well as their customer insights data.
Need for Streamlined Process
When offering tax-free shopping for tourists, merchants want as little friction as possible in their workflow.


How might we help merchants gain more understanding into navigating the VAT refund process?

RESTRUCTURING the information architecture

Based off the primary use cases and merchant motivations revealed in our research, we plotted existing features of the dashboard app (along with customer insights) on a 2×2 grid and prioritized the featured based off of what features/data are most important to the merchant and what features/data would be most frequently checked.
We landed on the following top-level hierarchy:
1. New Refund Request,
2. Dashboard,
3. Customer Insights,
4. Reporting,
5. Referrals.



Once we aligned on the information architecture for the primary use cases of the tool, we sketched out our ideas with the following design considerations in mind: 1) Scalable (Features), 2) Actionable, 3) Secure.


I then translated into low-fi wireframes in Sketch. We presented our options to the in-house design lead and founder and collaborated with them to narrow down key components that best solved for merchant needs revealed in the research, and converged them into a single design.

Maintaining a Common Design Language

Given the need to build out multiple screens within the dashboard tool, my design partner and I split up translating our wireframes into hi-fi designs. In order to maintain a common visual design language, I created a component library that my design partner and I collectively defined.

Final Screens: Before & After

Here is a comparison of the pain points and our recommended solutions:



Scalable, Secure, and Streamlined

Transparent Data

Actionable Insights

Responsive Design

The designs scale across tablet, mobile, and desktop breakpoints.

Next Steps

We are currently working with the developer to get this implemented. We hope to be able launch, learn, and iterate.

Project Learnings

1. Seek out feedback early from multiple stakeholders and users. This helps generate or narrow down ideas in the ideation phase and prevents surprises later on in the process.

2. Maintaining a common visual language when working in teams is crucial. Have discussions early and frequently.

3. Thinking through mobile first will help with information architecture and hierarchy, and make the translation to larger screens a lot easier.
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