Deep Dive Into the Retail Personalization Index Top 10: Wayfair

Every category has its own unique set of challenges and furniture brands have plenty. Furniture doesn’t necessarily lend itself to online shopping, as people can’t see, feel or sit on the products. Showrooms have limited space and pushy salespeople, making discovery difficult. And the average sofa has a lifespan of seven to 10 years, which means that once you get a new customers, they may disappear for a decade. Personalization is how Wayfair fights back against these pain points.

Wayfair’s marketing team has created a proprietary bidding algorithm for paid search, with machine learning predicting the value of 20 million keywords. The team also built a dynamic retargeting platform, which analyzes consumer behavior to determine how people should see ads. Wayfair is using repurposing that platform for recommendations, which is helpful since the retailer carries 14 million products.

“Our machine learning platforms will determine the ideal set of products to show any new visitor. Historically, that kind of thing was done manually, based on intuition, but that wasn’t scalable,” Bob Sherwin, the brand’s VP of Marketing, told Fortune in May.

Many brands’ digital experiences are tricked out with cool features, but in Wayfair’s case, the bells and whistles help personalize the shopping experience. The retailer’s app has augmented and virtual reality features that allow people to see pieces in their homes, while the website has Pinterest-style Idea Boards. These help consumers discover new products while giving Wayfair valuable information about their tastes. With hundreds of data scientists, the retailer is so skilled with data that it can often tell that you’re getting ready to move. Put enough items on your wish list and you may very well receive an email from a dedicated team member offering omnichannel white glove service.

With browsing behavior dictating email subject lines and email activity powering mobile messaging, Wayfair’s channels are all connected. Now that applies to brick-and-mortar, too. Last month, Wayfair opened its first physical store in suburban Boston, staffed by consultants who help consumers digitally recreate their rooms before fill them with Wayfair furniture… and then hopefully selling some of it.

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