During the pandemic, most of us spent a lot of time at home. How did we fill those hours? Many of us soothed our anxious feelings with retail therapy. Online sales surged during this period, according to the US Census retail trade survey, increasing by 43% in 2020. Rising consumer demand for home decor was a big part of this trend. Some of us needed to convert living spaces to work-at-home spaces. And we all wanted to be more comfortable. This buying momentum remains high — and capturing it is a challenge that all online retailers face.
Today, a stellar online user experience (UX) has become an important differentiating factor for home decor brands and retailers.
With endless options for shopping online, modern shoppers have raised their standards for UX. Today’s shoppers expect an inspiring, engaging, and delightful experience — one that feels personalized at every touchpoint.
On the other hand, friction, poor on-site search, and irrelevant recommendations will send both motivated buyers and casual browsers straight to your competitors.
Attracting shoppers, introducing them to the right products, and converting them requires a dynamic and individualized UX that caters to each shopper’s unique preferences.
It requires discovery design.
What is Discovery Design?
Discovery design is a new movement in eCommerce that combines agile personalization technologies with product discovery tactics.
For home decor brands and retailers that want to build more personalized, engaging, and conversion-oriented online user experiences, discovery design has emerged as a key strategy.
If you can get discovery design right, you can create an individual and inspiring customer journey for each shopper, regardless of how they search for products. Whether someone is searching for something specific or is just there to browse, discovery design ensures you connect the shopper to the most relevant and compelling pieces in the most efficient manner possible.
With a robust discovery design strategy, every aspect of the customer experience — including menus, web navigation, merchandising, site search, and more — is built with the goal of exposing shoppers to the products that will get them to buy.
6 Ways Home Decor Brands and Retailers Can Practice Discovery Design
Here are our top tips for home decor brands and retailers on how to create tailored shopping experiences for all types of customers.
1. Enhance product discovery with multiple search options
More time spent at home over the past year motivated many of us to invest in our domestic spaces. Global demand for every type of furniture and decor skyrocketed, as interior design trends — like wiggly mirrors, mushroom lamps, and abstract rugs — took over social media.
Whether they find inspiration online or elsewhere, it’s crucial to connect mission-driven shoppers to the products they’re seeking in the shortest and most direct way possible. In most cases, that’s via a smart product discovery strategy.
Discovery design that utilizes visual AI to extract unique attributes from product images enables a better search experience and helps you avoid leaving money on the table by ensuring search results are intuitive and relevant. (link to deep tagging)
Many shoppers prefer the convenience and accuracy of visual search over text search, as it allows them to avoid having to guess the correct terminology. After seeing a photo of an item they like, they can instantly find visually similar products.
Using visual search, shoppers can simply upload an image — say, of a orange leather sofa — and the visual AI engine running the system will analyze, interpret, and display the right results within seconds. Shoppers can use any type of image in a visual search, whether it’s from social media, your website, or a photo they snapped themselves, and see every similar item in your inventory.
2. Strengthen your tagging and merchandising infrastructure
Robust product tags and descriptions are essential to discovery design because they create the foundation for on-site search and merchandising. If your tags are not comprehensive or lack standardization and objectivity, it will be difficult to facilitate effective product discovery and make sure each shoppers sees the right products at the right time.
For example, if some of your carpets are tagged as “rugs” and others are only tagged as “floor mats,” some of your inventory will be left out of relevant product recommendations, promotions, and collections.
By adopting an automated and scalable approach to creating product tags and descriptions, you will more easily manage your SKUs and ensure the right items are included in your merchandising activities.
You will also be positioned to offer more effective personalization, which is a key pillar of product discovery. Accurate tags that include granular visual attributes enable you to offer hyper-relevant search results and product recommendations that hit the mark.
3. Include all of the information shoppers will want to know
Furniture and home decor is among the more expensive items shoppers invest in. To convince your customers to buy at a high price point without the in-person visit, you’ll need to deliver all of the applicable information to help them decide.
Discovery design encourages you to conceptualize the customer journey from the shopper’s perspective.
In addition to a clean aesthetic and simple user interface, providing inspiring and accurate product descriptions, information on materials used, maintenance requirements, warranties, shipping costs, and returns is critical. Other helpful features include 360-degree viewing, superzoom, and videos on the PDP.
4. Provide continuous inspiration at every touchpoint
For browsers, discovery design helps encourage conversion by continuously introducing more products that match their style, goals, and context. By generating authentic inspiration, you can convert casual browsers into motivated buyers.
One way to achieve this is by providing on-point, personalized product recommendations. Combining data from a shopper’s actions (how they navigate your site, which categories they interact with, what kinds of filters they apply) with the visual attributes of the products they click on can give you a clear idea of their taste, style, and current context.
With this information, you can provide hyper-relevant product recommendations on PLPs that encourage shoppers to add items to their cart. Imagine someone comes to your site, clicks on “Coffee Tables,” then filters out any products above $300. From there, they click on a rustic wooden coffee table among the results. You could then offer tools like the Discovery Button or Shop Similar to offer more coffee tables within this price range and style so they can find the one they love most — and can’t resist adding to their cart.
You can use the same insights to offer additional recommendations on pages that would otherwise lead to a dead end, such as in “no search results” pages. By creating dynamic, personalized inspiration boards, shoppers are more likely to engage with more pieces of furniture and decor instead of abandoning your site.
5. Promote collections that resonate most with each shopper
Home decor brands often feature numerous collections on their websites and apps, but don’t usually promote them in personalized ways. Instead of automatically featuring the collections that were most recently added throughout your home page and category pages, you can promote the collection that is most relevant to each shopper’s style and needs.
For example, the shopper who has been searching for a “large leather ottoman” on your site would be more compelled to click through your “Recline and Relax” collection than they would your “Outdoor Furniture” collection, even if it is June.
With personalization tools that can decipher shoppers’ current contexts and goals — not just the categories of products they interact with — you can showcase the collections that resonate with them the most.
6. Make navigation seamless
Good website navigation is integral to the online user experience. For home decor brands and retailers, making sure shoppers can easily navigate your site is crucial to keeping them engaged and happy.
Websites that force you to create an account in the middle of your session, feature non-intuitive navigation menus, have slow load times, or require excessive clicking can be a turnoff to customers.
Discovery design promotes simplicity, straightforwardness, and inspiration. By making the path to the right products as intuitive and frictionless as possible, you can foster shoppers’ inspiration and motivate them to buy.
Transform Your UX With Discovery Design
By incorporating these discovery design tips into your user experience, you will create highly resonant, engaging, and enjoyable customer experiences that cater to all kinds of shoppers — regardless of their original intent or preferred method of discovering new products.
Home decor brands have the benefit of rising customer demand and numerous avenues of inspiration. But without a strategy to cater to the needs of high-intent shoppers, you risk losing their interest to a competitor with a better UX. At the same time, home decor brands and retailers are also tasked with creating inspiring experiences that convert casual browsers into delighted customers.
But by adopting an approach that integrates product discovery into every touchpoint of the customer journey, you can introduce shoppers to the items that inspire them to click “add to cart.”