Now that shoppers can order their favorite furniture in just a few clicks, home decorating isn’t as cumbersome as it once was. Worldwide online furniture and homewares sales are expected to reach close to $190 billion and Amazon continues its foray into the home category. As such, home brands now have an outsized onus to produce best-in-class product pages for the influx of online shoppers. However, many brands have failed to deliver and aren’t keeping pace with industry disruptors.
If you want to build a custom sectional, for example, the websites of Williams-Sonoma-owned West Elm and direct-to-consumer disruptor Interior Define offer vastly different experiences. Interior Define goes above and beyond what West Elm offers, providing multiple images on each product page as well as a visual guide to product dimensions that updates in real time as customers select different attributes and configurations. The brand also elevates its AR mobile app by letting users download the app by clicking on a text message as opposed to having to go through the App Store. In contrast, West Elm has a Room Planner tool, but it doesn’t appear on relevant product pages, and its product customization feature doesn’t update based on user selections.
This shortcoming contributed to West Elm’s plunge in Digital IQ: the brand tumbled from Gifted to Average in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail. Other home brands in the report, from Williams Sonoma to Pier 1 Imports and even fast furniture favorite IKEA, suffer from a similar digital dearth. For example, Williams Sonoma’s brand site lacks live chat capability and struggles to maintain paid and organic search visibility on unbranded terms. Pier 1 Imports still pushes a clunky multi-page checkout process that lacks one-click cross-selling and a ship-to-store option, and the brand’s YouTube and Instagram presence is lackluster. Finally, IKEA’s mobile site lacks key merchandising features such as tap-to-zoom on product images.
Meanwhile, Amazon has continued to pull ahead in search visibility across categories. As a result, undecided shoppers are more likely now than ever to discover Amazon when conducting unbranded product searches. If home brands want to keep ahead of the new competition and take advantage of the new audience, they’ll need to pack up their old strategies and carve out a new plan.