Customer Journey in furniture industry
4 technological trends in furniture e-commerce
05 Dec 2017 / 6min
3. Personalization based on data
Personalization is one of the most important trends in e-commerce and has a great influence on the furniture industry as well. The purpose of personalization is to provide each individual user with communication tailored to his or her needs at a given moment. Such communication may include any helpful information relevant to the current stage of a customer’s journey; offers matching his tastes and wallet and aligned with what he has already bought; promotions corresponding to her specific buying style; and emails or push notifications in the mobile application scheduled specifically for her convenience. Matching the message not only increases the likelihood of a purchase but it also helps build positive brand associations, fostering customer loyalty and encouraging long-term customer relationships.
Once registered with Houzz, a user completes a survey indicating personal preferences for particular styles and interior themes. The survey is visually attractive and easy to use: a user has only to choose from among the provided photos those which most appeal to him or her. Once the selection is made, the home page content immediately adjusts to the user’s preferences. Only the content that meets the criteria specified in the survey is displayed. Full site access is available, of course, but what is served on the main screen is tailored to a user’s specific needs and tastes.
Jerome's Furniture perfectly personalizes its email marketing. The company assumes that, when it comes to furniture, buyers do not buy on impulse and therefore need time to reflect on their selections before completing a purchase. If a customer adds a product to the shopping cart but does not finalize the purchase, therefore, the company gives them a few days for consideration, and only then sends an email reminding the customer about items left in the shopping cart. Jerome's also uses email to remind customers about the products they viewed during their recent visits to the online shop.
The company employs cross-sell mechanisms as well: after the purchase, it sends an email with a range of complementary products. For example, if you bought a bed but have not ordered a mattress within a month of the purchase of the bed, the company will send you an offer of a discount on the mattress.
For customers who have the mobile app, the company also gets information about products viewed, purchased or added to their shopping list in offline stores. This capability considerably broadens the possibilities for personalization of communication to these customers, as the network has for them a complete set of information from two complementary channels: traditional and digital.
The free Jerome's Smart Shopper mobile app allows customers to scan QR codes on plates located next to all items displayed in Jerome's showrooms. Scanning the code allows a customer access to online resources about the particular product , including customer reviews, detailed description and specification, and a product video.
In addition, a user can create a shopping list of scanned products. When the list is complete, it can very quickly be displayed by a shop employee who can then finalize the order.. The application also supports tracking of order status and delivery.
4. Augmented reality, Virtual reality
Tale of the future? Science fiction? Of course not! Furniture stores are already testing advanced technologies to engage their customers and make shopping easier. Augmented Reality is already being successfully employed by IKEA, Wayfair, Williams-Sonoma, Pepperfry and Houzz, among others. Its unquestionable advantage is that it does not require the user to have additional hardware - just a regular smartphone or tablet with a camera.
A much more advanced technology, which unfortunately is still under development, is Virtual Reality. While augmented reality combines the real world with computer-generated elements, in virtual reality we are dealing with a completely fictitious world in which everything, including the user, is a computer image. The barrier to using this technology is the need for expensive equipment: usually VR goggles, laser sensors and motion controllers. It is expected, however, that with the development of VR technology and its popularization, the prices of hardware will decrease significantly.
In April 2016, on the Steam game distribution platform, IKEA released the free “IKEA VR Experience” application, which takes users to a full-size IKEA kitchen that exists only in virtual reality. In order to experience this adventure, the user needs HTC Vive goggles (the current price is about PLN 4.2 thousand).
Upon entering the virtual world, a user is free to move around the room and interact with various objects, using two controllers. For example, a user can change the colours and materials of cabinets, fronts and countertops in order to find out which combinations are most pleasing. She can also carry out simple kitchen activities: open drawers and remove items from them, throw biodegradable trash into a suitable container, or take a frying pan off the shelf and fry traditional Swedish meatballs (while mixing them with a spatula pulled out of the drawer).
An interesting option is the ability to customize the user’s height. In IKEA's virtual kitchen, the user can become a small child who barely reaches the tabletop or learn what it is like to be an almost 2-metre person trying to prepare a meal in a standard equipped room.
The application was prepared by IKEA in cooperation with the French company Allegorithmic. It uses the latest version of the Unreal Engine 4 produced by Epic Games.
Source: MEBLARSTWO Komponenty i Technologie, edition: 11.2017