dos-and-donts-blogThe e-commerce industry today is at a critical point of transition. Consumers are demanding unique, customizable online shopping experiences. At present many online retailers are struggling to capitalize on this desire.

This is particularly true in the home furnishings sector, which has a number of unique challenges catering to online customers. In the past, home furnishings retailers have done most of their sales through brick and mortar storefronts. Customers prefer to see the specific items they are going to purchase. As such, home furnishing online portals have lagged behind other industries in providing personalized shopping experiences.

Yet in almost no other industry is it as important to create a personalized shopping experience in order to transition browsers into shoppers, and one time shoppers into repeat customers. In this article we’ll discuss some of the ways that home furnishing retailers can accomplish effective e-commerce personalization, while highlighting a few of the common pitfalls that can be seen across the industry.

Implement an intelligent search system with rich autocomplete and filtering options

Legacy searching systems that rely on simple text search terms fail to deliver accurate results in the home furnishing market. When using these types of systems, your customers are more likely to end up with a long list of products that they weren’t looking for. This is a particularly common problem in the home furnishing industry, where customers are more likely to have long and very specific search queries.

With the huge amount of product diversity that exists within the home furnishings market, having a personalization system that utilizes a robust search engine will allow your customers to more quickly and efficiently find the products that they are looking for.

For example, if a customer is searching for a yellow sofa, legacy systems will just pull products where the specific item description has a fabric labeled as yellow.  They could then miss out on products described by the manufacturer as marigold. An intelligent search system would pull this result and others that qualified as yellow, but were not inherently labeled as such.

Don’t ignore the transition from online to storefront shoppers

 While many of your customers may conduct searches on your website to gain some sense of product familiarity, once they narrow down which specific products they are interested in, they will most likely visit your storefront to see the product in person. It is important to cater to these types of customers by creating a multichannel shopping experience. This is a shopping experience that allows for the seamless transition between online and offline shopping.

Accomplishing this requires maintaining consistency between products, brands, and pricing both on- and offline. Commonly in the home furnishing industry, customers will also search for your products on their phones while in your store.

Some home furnishing stores have taken the step to have tablets placed throughout their storefront to serve as points of access for their customers, further collapsing the boundaries between online and in store shopping. As such, having a robust mobile site is essential to the success of your e-commerce personalization deployment.

Rely on a system that provides targeted product recommendations

Your e-commerce personalization software should be able to provide targeted, specific product recommendations. This is the backbone of any e-commerce personalization software. Intuitive product and search systems learn as your customers utilize them.  If a customer places a product in their shopping cart, your software system should be able to use that information to provide more accurate product recommendations.

The same is true for their search history.  With an intelligent, machine-driven product recommendation system in place, your customers are more likely to find relevant products and experience higher conversion rates. Additionally, your system should be able to promote certain products, or suggest related items that you carry that have the highest conversion rate from shoppers to buyers.

Successfully revamping your home furnishing website to provide a personalized shopping experience doesn’t need to be a daunting or painful experience. Utilizing these personalization tips can help you find an e-commerce personalization platform that will meet your needs.

Ultimately, the success of your efforts comes down to having the right tools for the job. Having a platform that integrates comprehensive search functionality, intelligent and machine-driven product recommendations, and allows you to seamlessly transition shoppers from online to in-store shopping will give your company the ability to provide a superior customer experience throughout.

Learn more about SLI’s Personalization technology by reading Announcing SLI ESP: Take Mind Reading to the Next Level.