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Why It's Longer and More Complex Than You May Realise
There’s no question that eCommerce has changed a staggering amount in the last year and a half, and it continues to evolve with each passing month. One of the most drastic shifts is the types of items that people are more readily purchasing online. Now more than ever, people are making purchases through eCommerce channels that would more commonly be reserved for a physical location. Things like mattresses, furniture, and other products that customers prefer to look at and feel in person.
For some businesses, this is working out very well, and they’re seeing a new market share of online buyers emerge. But for many eCommerce brands, they haven’t been able to make the transition into this new trend.
We spoke with several brands to understand how they are approaching this. Raymond Wright-- Co-Founder at ufurnsh.com -- the UK’s market-leading search and comparison website for home furniture and furnishings. The website brings together 100+ leading retailers and over one million products, all in one place. As a purely digital business, they faced this exact challenge. The furniture industry had long been a product that was seen as an “in-store experience.”
To stand out in this hyper-competitive market, brands need to be innovative in their product offerings. Everyone has different priorities, considerations, and expectations, and though personalisation is on the rise, it's rarely personal. Retailers need to put strategies in place to tackle these challenges.
The challenge we face is that physical locations are actually a perceived need. What customers are truly looking for is the focus on personalisation and user experience that they get in a store online.
In this interview, Raymond shares the approach the brand has taken to overcome this. Read on to learn more about the new buyer's journey, and how you can adapt to it.
Q: Purchases in the home and furniture category have boomed since the pandemic. I imagine that this has also resulted in you adding a wider range of retailers. With such a catalogue of products and suppliers - how do you support shoppers navigating such an array of products?
A: The home and furniture category was actually starting to boom pre-pandemic which is why we created ufurnish.com to start with. As tragic and difficult as the pandemic has been for so many people, it’s actually driven furniture retailers into action when it comes to digitising their business. This has accelerated our business growth at a rapid pace. We now have over 150 retail partners and 1.4m products on ufurnish.com across 540 home furniture and furnishing categories. It’s vast!
Our mission is to help people find the perfect products for their home in the easiest way possible. What’s key for us is driving a really robust search experience for shoppers that allows them to be as broad or as specific as they want to be and narrow down to the select few products that really fit their criteria. It’s fascinating what you learn about shopper behaviour when creating this experience and the one thing we’ve learned is giving them choice is crucial. We’ve done well so far but there’s a lot still to be done to innovate the experience further.
Q: In an era of personalisation and customer experience. How does Ufurnish compete with trying to achieve both of these, and how do you achieve this at scale?
A: There are a number of ways we approach this at ufurnish.com with the first being you have to understand what kind of customer experience people want to have. Our business is purely digital yet we operate in an industry that has long been a physical experience when it comes to buying furniture so in order deliver customer experience we:
Once we roll our digital experiences we then track and monitor these super closely to look at what the data tells us about the user experience. Did they engage with it, did they not? We want to know what success looks like and define success criteria. That success criteria and the data from actual users tells us whether we can/ are delivering the right experiences at scale and what we should further develop.
Q: Basket abandonment is a well-known challenge in the eCommerce space. How do you currently overcome this to help convert shoppers and support them in their purchasing journey?
A: Monitoring user behaviour is so important in this area to ensure we quantify what abandonment means in the first place. It’s important we place clear criteria on what might be determined abandonment so that the engagement actions are correct. A few tactics we use to manage this are:
Q: Many brands are focused purely on customer acquisition, with little emphasis on the support/experience post-sale. What techniques/approaches does Ufurnish adopt to deliver an excellent post-sale experience?
A: Yes, your statement is true here that in the commoditised world of ecommerce brands have focused heavily on the transaction and I actually believe that’s driven by how many of them measure their marketing investments.
For us, what’s crucial is shoppers consistently using our website over time and trusting that we are the destination to find everything they could ever want. What brands need to understand is that their product extends beyond just a website, it’s how they communicate and how they show up through all channels. In post-sale experience we believe it’s crucial that brands use mediums like email to confirm how the user experience performed, check in on the shopper’s satisfaction and ensure they have everything they need.
Then, begin the journey of understanding what else they might need and making suggestions on what you can offer. Shoppers don’t want to be bombarded with communications but they do like a recommendation or offer. It’s the little communication touches that count.
Q: The Covid-19 lockdowns accelerated digital shopping adoption, and many of these behaviours are here to stay. What trends are we likely to see for 2022 - any insight you can share?
A: There are a few points that appear to be clear trends:
If you enjoyed this interview by Raymond Wright, you’ll be pleased to know that we conducted several more and compiled some of the most important pieces into this easy-to-digest eCommerce report.
Even though we use the word “report” this is a toolkit, survival guide, and checklist you can use to equip yourself and future-proof your eCommerce strategy. Don’t have a strategy? Contact us and we can help you.
Get the guide now to hear from even more incredible brands. (It’s absolutely free.)
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