As more eCommerce retailers seek to capitalize on the rising trend of homeware in the wake of COVID-19, we delve into how the homeware industry can innovate the online customer experience with AI. Choosing the furniture of your heart’s desire is important! It shows your personal style and it is not every day that you will be looking to replace your homeware. One way to do this is to use AI-powered Visual Search to bring a sense of organic discovery to the online shopping experience and bridge the divide between inspiration and purchase.
Homeware and furniture retailers have seen a surge in demand globally, as people stayed home, and decided to invest in redecorating their homes. In the US, eCommerce sales of homeware and furniture are forecast to increase from $42 billion in 2019 to $54 billion in 2024, accounting for 12% of total eCommerce sales. But, the pandemic has also left a trail behind of closed bricks-and-mortar stores, as well as disrupting the common buying patterns of consumers – moving home, using their free time to work on DIY projects etc.
Today’s stay-at-home consumers are looking to spend money on remodeling and furniture for home offices, peloton spaces, yoga rooms, home improvement or interior design, as they reinvent what their homes look like. Astute online homeware retailers will succeed by focusing on building genuine relationships with customers, by moving away from an emphasis on just selling, to further differentiate themselves from the competition. Brand identity will always play an important role, but it won’t be enough to survive in today’s saturated and competitive market.
The world has moved online, everyone has become more connected to technology, and social selling is also on the rise. Customer experience should be at the top of every online homeware retailer’s list. Homeware and furniture is a high-priced category, with a fragmented customer buying journey – touching and feeling in-store, comparison shopping online, consulting friends, family, social media, magazines etc.
Homeware and furniture is inherently a visual process as people intuitively think about these products visually. So, let’s delve into three ways in which Visual Search can help create your home sweet home.
There are an overwhelming number of ways to describe a homeware product, and words are very limited in describing something visual. As a rule, consumers tend to approach the homeware category with a more considered and comparative approach, given the highly personal nature of style choices, color matching, textures etc. When shopping online for homeware and furniture, consumers often face these common dilemmas:
Visual Search has been around for many years and is now built into popular search engines and social media platforms. ‘Pinterest Lens’ has become a powerful ally of homeware companies, with Pinterest stating that “90% of users’ purchasing decisions are informed by information attained through the Visual Search technology”.
Visual commerce will become increasingly popular as it takes the online customer experience to a whole new level. Rather than having to type “brown leather sofa” and seeing some results returned, customers can take a photo from a magazine, in-store, from a friend’s house, or save a screenshot from social media, and simply upload it via Visual Search and be rewarded with search results in the same shade of brown and visually similar results. This is a much more personalized shopping experience, making consumers far more likely to convert.
Latest data from Baymard Institute eCommerce Usability Test, suggests that “70% of websites require users to search by the exact jargon for the product type that the website uses, failing to return relevant products for ‘blow dryer’ if ‘hairdryer’ is typed.”
Today’s stay-at-home consumer attaches high value to personalized online shopping experiences that help them find the products they need quickly. This is the key to keeping them satisfied, as poor product recommendations result in shoppers avoiding specific sites altogether. In fact, the latest data suggests that 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that offers personalized content and promotions, leading to a 20% uplift in conversions.
Within the homeware and furniture category, there is considerably more pre-purchase research. After all, buying the next piece of furniture to decorate your home is a huge deal. A homeware retailer’s website must be top-notch, well-organized, with excellent search features and loaded with descriptive product content – measurements, multiple pictures, including close-ups to reveal colour and texture. Even more importantly, the customer journey has to be seamless.
To stay ahead of the competition, astute homeware eCommerce retailers are using personalization tools that tailor customers’ experiences. These include AI-powered visually similar product recommendations, which work in exactly the same way as mock-ups do in a homeware store. For example, if a customer sees a light cream colour sofa, they can crop the image to select the colour or pattern. From there, Visual Search will recommend products of similar colours, such as a set of drawers, a cupboard, or cushions. This is a highly effective way to cross-sell or up-sell to grow their order value.
55% of consumers say Visual Search is instrumental in developing their style and taste (Pinterest)
Brands that practice sustainability are a growing force, and the homeware and furniture industry is no exception. Today’s consumers are pushing brands to limit their impact on climate change and to stop abusing human rights, and are choosing to shop with brands whose values and ethics mirror theirs.
Within the homeware and furniture category, there has been a significant amount of sustainability-driven innovation. From minimal packaging made from 100% recyclable materials, using FSC-certified wood, working with locally skilled artisans, implementing circular or waste-free processes, creating fabrics from plastic waste, to creating homeware and furniture that lasts. With the many sustainability considerations, brands must look to be transparent within their supply chain and build confidence between themselves and their consumers.
Today’s ‘conscious consumer’ needs to know what their product is made from, where it is made, and what they can do when they have finished with it. eCommerce homeware and furniture retailers need to respond by being 100% transparent about how their products incorporate values of sustainability, environmental, and human ethics. Products need to be loaded with descriptive sustainability-related content, and integrated into on-site product discovery (visual and keyword) to make it discoverable so that consumers’ can easily make informed choices.
Of course! Our team at Delvify recognizes the issues that the homeware and furniture industry faces and has curated a range of solutions to tackle those issues, and deliver the following benefits along the way:
We help brands shape relevant and powerful customer experiences for their customer base. With the always changing landscape in the online retail space, it is important for brands to understand what their customers want. Happy customers will mean an increase in conversions and revenue!