What Chairish and The Home Depot Tell Us About Personalization for Home Goods Retailers
By Kristine Lowery | September 18, 2019
Sorting through endless amounts of furniture and home décor is very time-consuming, as is finding the furniture that reflects your unique style. Plus, your home is your home. Therefore, personalization is a must for home-focused retail brands. And judging by Sailthru’s third Retail Personalization Index — The Home Depot, Wayfair and Chairish all placed in the top 15 — they know it.
Many people hear “personalization” and think “product recommendations.” Look at Amazon, the company that popularized collaborative filtering, more commonly known as “Those who bought this also bought that” recommendations. These recommendations account for 35% of the company’s revenue. It sounds like a lot (it is) but it also makes sense, given Amazon’s endless inventory. Strong recommendations help curate a retailer’s website for consumers, which is especially important for home goods shoppers, who don’t necessarily know what they want.
A search for tables on PotteryBarn.com brings up 650 results, which can be filtered by style, size, material and extra features, just to name a few. Once you find one you like enough to buy, you may wonder, “Does this go with my other furniture?” Pottery Barn recommends items from the same collection, while also demonstrating how other users have styled them, potentially saving you hours of clicking.
Using Personalization to Design Your Dream Home
Product recommendations are just one way retailers can personalize their customer experiences. In the past few years, home brands have increasingly used artificial intelligence-driven tools to help shoppers design their dream homes.
For example, Wayfair developed a visual search engine to provide customers with more relevant product recommendations. Customers can take pictures and upload them to see if Wayfair sells something similar. In addition to creating a better customer experience, the visual search engine provides Wayfair with valuable behavioral and interest data. That gives the retailer insight when designing new products, staying on top of trends, and engaging that person in the future.
Augmented reality is also extremely popular with home brands. For example, the Chairish app now has an AR feature that lets customers visualize items in their homes. App users can browse items and if they see a light fixture or piece of furniture they like, they can click on the “View In Your Space” button. Their smartphone camera then opens up, showing their room with an overlay of the item. They can also take a picture and share the image with family and friends over text, email, or social media.
This feature helps customers determine if a specific item will look good in their space, which is a primary concern for furniture shoppers. Chairish is just one example of a home retailer using AR to enhance mobile personalization. IKEA and Wayfair have similar features.
What Sets The Home Depot and Chairish Apart?
Chairish had one of the biggest comebacks on the Index. Last year, the furniture retailer came in 57th place before skyrocketing to 14th place. With 20,000 sellers, Chairish sells a dizzying number of items and personalization helps customers make sense of them. Chairish’s onboarding includes a questionnaire, allowing the retailer to understand their preferences. That way, when the brand sends emails, for example, those preferences factor into product recommendations, along with customer behaviors and trends in their respective areas.
Chairish represents the fourth-strongest improvement in Index; The Home Depot had the first. The Home Depot stood out for understanding their customers and applying that knowledge to their personalization strategy. Many customers need advice or recommendations on how to use and install certain products. This presents a challenge for online shopping, since customers can’t get the answers they needed before placing an order.
As a result, The Home Depot developed an omnichannel strategy. Customers can now pick up online orders in physical stores, where sales associates are available to answer their questions. If a customer decides to purchase an additional item, the salesperson can also place the order for them on a store-issued mobile device.
The Home Depot also realized that the warehouse setup of their stores can be overwhelming for many customers. App users can access store maps to find out which aisle and shelf contain the item they’re looking for.
The Pluses of Personalization
Designing a home is an extremely personal task, which means there are plenty of opportunities for home brands to bring customized experiences to their shoppers. Creating a more personalized experience is well worth it for home retailers. According to 2017 research from customer data platform Segment, 44% of consumers are inclined to become repeat customers after a personalized shopping experience.
Personalization is all the rage in retail these days, and brands that engage in personalization can really benefit. Consumers want a personalized shopping experience, but Segment found that only 22% are satisfied with the level of personalization they’re currently getting. This means that many retailers are missing out. It also means there’s so much opportunity to improve.
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