Executive Summary

It’s an exciting time for the homeware sector. An extraordinary set of global circumstances have seen people taking a greater interest in their home environments, and as a result, business is brisk. But e-commerce remains a challenging, demanding environment, and only retailers at the top of their game will fully capitalize on the opportunities now available.

This practical guide will outline a few of the common challenges you encounter as an online homeware retailer, and illustrate the ways in which on-site search can help you to counter them. Expect practical, actionable tips and plenty of industry examples. Ready to learn how on-site search could help boost your homeware sales? Read on...

Introduction

It’s safe to say that 2020 has seen many of us spending rather more time at home than we bargained for. As the Coronavirus pandemic hit and people self-isolated, it was no surprise that improving their immediate surroundings was high on many lists of priorities.

For many, that’s meant a total change of lifestyle, with four out of every 10 home-buyers in the UK now seeking a move from the city to the countryside. But for most, a less extreme way of perking up their environment came in the form of home improvements and a refresh of their interiors, through purchasing homeware. In the week immediately following the UK’s lockdown announcement, for example, the weekly growth rate for homeware saw a 200% year on year leap.

Up until the effects of COVID-19, homeware (and especially larger, more expensive furniture items) tended to be a vertical that consumers wanted to experience offline. The feel, true color and dimensions of the items consumers choose to bring into their homes are important. And returns are often more of a factor compared to smaller, lightweight items such as apparel.

But lockdown meant that shopping for homeware items online became a necessity, which broke down some of the barriers to conversion we would otherwise expect to see. Product discovery and exploration that was once conducted online (before leading to conversion in stores where items could be seen “in real life”) was now completed with an online purchase.

Following this huge spike in interest, how can you continue to ride the wave? The answer lies in providing your customers with a truly superlative online retail experience.

On-site search plays a huge role in delivering this for the detail-focused homeware sector. By polishing your product discovery, you’re investing in some of your most highly motivated customers. As Ian Leslie, CMO at Industry West, recently noted “On-site search is an incredible signal of checkout intent”. And he should know — Industry West sees a 419% lift in conversion rate from users who initiate search-led journeys.

This Guide will outline six ways on-site search is perfectly poised to help you keep customers happily purchasing online, long after bricks and mortar stores have reopened.

Chapter 1: Feels Like Home: Mastering Personalization
The Challenge You Face: Catering to Many Different Tastes and Aesthetics
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Is anything more personal than our homes? As online homeware retailers, it's so important to account for and reflect the personal tastes and interests of your customers. It’s imperative to ensure that your store comes across as well-curated and highly appealing to each individual customer, no matter what their sense of style. User journeys should be paved with appealing, appropriate content and products.

A Smart Solution: Personalization

Personalization gives you the ability to give every shopper a better experience — a unique curation of your store. When people shop for items that appeal to their own sense of style and taste (homeware, apparel etc) as opposed to strict functionality, this becomes especially important.

In some ways personalization performs the role of the showroom assistant — able to absorb information and present options that are most likely to appeal to the browser and complement their existing home based on previous shopping habits and purchases. This is another way in which brands can look to replicate the best elements of a showroom experience in the digital realm.

There are growing expectations that store experiences will be personalized by default. When shoppers frequent online stores, they increasingly assume that they’ll be presented with an experience that fits their profile and shown products that are suitable for their needs.

The stats back this up. 80% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a company that offers personalized experiences. When shoppers know that they’re going to receive a tailored experience, each visit improves the impression they gain of the brand. They feel recognized, seen.

This is especially effective within the homeware vertical, as products tend to be built around complementary collections designed to work well together. If a customer is presented with a range of bathroom products that beautifully match a towel set they recently purchased, chances of conversion are improved.

How Klevu Helps

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As a sophisticated on-site search solution, Klevu enables you to build a personalized experience across your store, as your customers’ interactions with products and search results inform their continued browsing experience.

In its purest form, personalization recognizes your customers’ individual interests and continues to highlight products that align with those preferences. In the case of on-site search, this could mean boosting certain products to the top of their search results (as a result of AI-powered automation) or ensuring that the products that an initial search led them to, remain visible as they continue to navigate your store. Similarly, past interactions could bring up a range of personalized recommendations.

Some Examples
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It’s hard to illustrate exactly how Klevu’s personalized search looks within the context of a store, as every experience is unique to the shopper’s own preferences and previous activities — something no single example can accurately represent! However, here’s Skandium, showing a range of personalized recommendations based on one customer’s previous search and product interactions.

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Graham & Green here give a visually appealing reminder of products that have recently been discovered through search and viewed.

Learn More About Klevu and Personalization

Chapter 2: Hot Right Now: Harness the Power of Trending Products and Searches
The Challenge You Face
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When it comes to the homeware vertical, visitors to your online store are not always browsing with specific intention. Many will explore online homeware stores purely for inspiration. You need a data-backed, AI-fueled strategy so that the most popular products (that are statistically most likely to catch their eye) will grab their attention before they bounce.

A Smart Solution: Trending Products

For these less laser-focused shoppers, the presentation of trending products can be a real head-turner.

By leveraging trending products and searches across your site, you also benefit from the persuasive power of social proof and the psychological and social phenomenon whereby people feel compelled to imitate the actions of others. It’s a more convoluted way of saying FOMO...

Although our tastes are personal, we still want our homes to look fashionable, and displaying best selling or trending items can be a great way of leaning on that desire to encourage interest and deeper product exploration.

Trending products can encourage extended engagement with your online store and stop shoppers bouncing to trawl competitors’ sites, by offering up a dynamic and enticing range of products that are selling well and proving popular.

Trends come and go in all verticals, but especially in homeware. It’s very common for interest in certain products to spike in relation to specific calendar events or weather patterns (for example, a run on picnic sets when a sunny national holiday is predicted).

Because of this, it’s especially important for homeware retailers to make the most of the suggestive power of trending products and searches.

Trending products also represent a smart way of getting stock shifted quickly. By doubling down on the promotion of best-sellers, you know you’re capitalizing on interest while it exists. Who knows how long that spike will last?

How Klevu Helps

Harnessing the powerful combination of automation and AI, Klevu recognizes which products are generating the most interest in your store, and flags them as trending. These products are identified via an algorithm that factors in real customer search figures, alongside the items which generate the highest CTRs and purchase rates.

You can manually override these automatic boosts at any time (for example, if you want to prioritize reducing stock in other areas). But if you’re looking for an easy way to generate interest and capitalize on a product’s existing popularity, trending products are a great area to explore.

An Example

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Here, Beautify combines a couple of smart tactics — a custom message accompanies a zero result search term. In an attempt to retain the customer’s attention, trending products are deployed to recapture interest, and sidestep the disappointment of a fruitless search.

Learn More About Klevu and Trending Products

Chapter 3: Help Customers Find the Perfect Piece with Dynamic Filters
The Challenge You Face
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To account for a wide range of tastes, styles and preferences, as a homeware retailer the chances are you’re wielding a large and reasonably complex product catalog. Your customers will often have specific requirements in mind when searching for the perfect product, as they look to make purchases that match existing color schemes, fit specifically sized spaces, or complement the range of materials found in their current interiors. All this means that your e-commerce store needs to facilitate simple, effective product filtering.

A Smart Solution: Dynamic Facets and Filtering

To help your customers narrow down their search and discover their ideal product, you’ll need to give them the opportunity to explore a wide range of attributes.

From eliminating all items except those in a very specific fabric or size, to ensuring that only products of a certain color are shown, filtering is an important part of the customer experience when it comes to the homeware vertical.

As your homeware catalog is likely to have a broad range of products with a vast number of variable attributes, filtering options can be distracting if they’re not presented dynamically. For the best customer experience, when an on-site search is performed, only attributes that are relevant to the items returned should be displayed.

Dynamic filtering offers a fantastic opportunity to improve the presentation and functionality of your search results pages. Having gone to the effort of interacting with on-site search, shoppers are indicating a high motivation to make a purchase (and clearly have a reasonably specific item in mind).

With this in mind, it’s of utmost importance to make sure their experience interacting with their search results is optimized. Providing them with the tools to quickly and efficiently narrow down their search needs to be a top priority. By presenting only the filters relevant to the attributes of the products they’re viewing, you remove a lot of unnecessary information and visual clutter from your search results page.

The result? Finding the perfect item is easy. Your customer has a much shorter path to conversion, and you avoid turning them off with an overwhelming results page that requires taxing navigation (or a good deal of scrolling on a mobile screen).

How Klevu Helps

When it comes to generating and displaying only the relevant filters in search results, Klevu has automated the whole process. Sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that each time a visitor performs a search, they’ll be able to explore the results in an easy and appealing way. They’ll be presented with an interface that enables them to filter by attributes that correlate perfectly to the products that they’re exploring.

An Example

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Made.com is a great example of a well-designed, highly functional search results page. In addition to being able to filter by rug type, via a visually appealing row of illustrative images, attributes specific to the product in question are also displayed. From rug size (note, not just size!) to the materials the rugs are made from, everything is made to measure.

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Surefit is another retailer making great use of dynamic filtering. Here we see that a search for “pets” brings up a highly specific filtering option “pet bed size.” When considering this example, it's easy to see the value of the automatic selection process — it would be confusing and off-putting to see this attribute presented as a way to filter products with no relation to pets.

Learn More About Klevu and Trending Products

Chapter 4: Creative Curation: Time to Master Your Merchandising
The Challenge You Face
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A well-merchandised store is essential for success in today’s competitive e-commerce landscape. Retailers across all verticals want to ensure that their products are optimally ordered to obtain the best converting power. This is certainly the case for homeware brands, where the visual appeal of their products is a huge selling point. Merchandising is an important element of store management — crucial for ensuring the best conversion rates But it’s very difficult to manage when dealing with large product ranges that aim to appeal to so many different customer personas, as is often the case for homeware.

A Smart Solution: AI Fuelled Merchandising

Effective merchandising is the key to quick “add to cart” success. The secret lies in getting the right product, in front of the right eyes, at the right time. Having a solid strategy (and partner solution) in this area is key to ongoing success. Different customers will need different merchandising strategies, but the underlying goal remains the same — catch their eye and entice them to buy.

To make sure your products are displayed and working their hardest for you, automated merchandising powered by AI is essential. This means that rather than taking a hands-on approach, your store is constantly being monitored and adjusted automatically. Product placement is always being perfected and improved, at a rate that would be impossible to recreate manually.

When looking to convert shoppers, it makes sense to target those already displaying the highest intention to purchase. And those interacting with your on-site search fall perfectly into this group. As a result, it’s important to make sure that the search results they’re presented with are merchandised effectively. Leaning on AI and automation means that the experience delivered is way beyond that which a team working manually could ever hope to achieve.

How Klevu Helps

Klevu’s search is fully self-learning, meaning our powerful algorithm is constantly gathering information from the way your customers interact with your site. This knowledge is then applied across your store to ensure the optimal merchandising experience.

The capacity for this automated finetuning goes right down to variant level. For example, if you have a cushion cover that comes in ten different colors, the most popular variant will be recognized and displayed as the default image in your search results. Of course, there’s still the option to leverage your own deep knowledge of your homeware business to manually override and boost certain products that require enhanced promotion. Keyword-based product promotion is also possible, and sees selected products feature at the top of your search results (or appearing within the quick “search as you type” overlay).

An Example

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Here’s a nice example of Lovesac deploying featured products within its search. At a single keystroke, selected products are suggested and visually represented within the overlay. Customers can dive into product discovery right away.

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When we look at this search results page from Surefit, the image displaying for each result will be the best seller for that particular product.

Learn More About Klevu and Merchandising

Chapter 5: Leverage Laser Focus With Landing pages
The Challenge You Face
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Landing pages can be a very useful tool in the e-commerce manager’s arsenal. They are known as a proven and dependable tactic in terms of boosting conversion. By providing a path to purchase that focuses on a niche range of products, targeted traffic can be driven towards a page and encouraged to perform a clear and specific action (in this instance, buy!).

They have the potential to be especially helpful within the context of homeware, as product ranges here tend to be more collection-focused and change seasonally. However, they’re often problematic to create, needing the collaboration of several different teams across marketing, design and development. As a result, their production can become costly and cumbersome. It can be hard to leverage them quickly to react to trends and opportunities that may arise.

A Smart Solution: Dynamic Landing Pages

By making smart use of on-site search data (more on this in the next chapter), homeware retailers can deploy highly targeted keyword-focused advertising campaigns that drive well-segmented traffic to these pages. By keeping the content served within your pages dynamic, you know that the AI working away in the background will keep your landing pages refreshed and stocked with the perfect range of products at all times.

How Klevu Provides This Fix

Klevu has combined the power of our AI capabilities with the effectiveness of landing pages, and made the whole process incredibly user friendly with our brand new landing page builder. With no coding or design knowledge required to create beautiful, fully dynamic landing pages (we do recommend a developer to help integrate the page to your store!) you can now set about pulling the best selections from your homeware range into highly-targeted, conversion powerhouses. Pages are fully bespoke, and will fit right into the look and feel of your store — so important for the homeware sector where aesthetics really count!

Learn More About Klevu and Landing Pages

Chapter 6: Incredible Insights: Put Your Site Search Data to Good Use
The Challenge You Face
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The key to success for any modern e-commerce operation lies in intelligent interpretation of the data that it generates. It’s here that you’ll find everything you need to understand your customers and guarantee that their experiences are exceptional. In order to gain the best, deepest insight into your customers, you need to pull data from a range of different sources, so that clear trends and themes can emerge from the full spectrum of behaviors when interacting with your e-commerce store. So, how do you dig a little deeper, beyond the statistics provided by your platform alone?

A Smart Solution: A Rich New Source of Behavioural Data

Your on-site search data is an especially insightful additional source of customer insight. It offers a uniquely candid view into the assumptions, motivations and specific interests of your customers. No other data tells you as clearly, in their own words, what their expectations of your store are.

Digging into this data will pay dividends. You’ll have the opportunity to observe trends and peaks of specific interest, even before they start showing up in your concrete sales. You’ll also be able to improve the timing of your promotional campaigns, sales and seasonal events by observing when people start looking for holiday gifts or searching for specific promotions. This is especially helpful for homeware retailers, where it’s so important to time seasonal shifts in stock correctly.

You can also leverage this data to get an understanding of what shoppers think you sell. If zero-result terms keep cropping up, perhaps it’s time to consider addressing the problem by redirecting to a similar item or popular alternative that you do stock.

Site search data can also be used to inform your SEO and keyword-focused advertising campaigns — it’s a finger directly on the pulse of the market’s zeitgeist. This can do more than just guide the promotion of your products ... it can also help you to get a better understanding of the products you could be stocking in the future

How Klevu Helps

Klevu gives brands deep, daily insight into the way that your customers are interacting with your store and products. Information is easily and quickly accessible via your Klevu Merchant Center panel. Additionally, a daily email delivers actionable insights directly to your inbox.

An Example

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Finnish Design Shop makes smart use of its data by leveraging popular search terms so that current trends are reflected in its quick search overlay, before a single keystroke has been entered.

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Here’s an example of the clear, practical dashboard that delivers key insights to Klevu customers in real-time. You’ll get quick and easy access to trending keywords, as well as those search terms that have yielded no results. This means you can act quickly to reallocate synonyms if customers are missing out on finding products due to unrecognized search terms.

Learn More About Klevu and Analytic Insights

Time To Bring On-Site Search Home

It’s an exciting time for the homeware industry. Although they may be enjoying the freedom to roam a little further from them these days, consumers have become acutely aware of the importance of their living spaces. And the stats show that they’re ready to invest in them.

The increased interest in homeware coincided with the fact that shoppers were unable to physically experience items before buying them — so will consumers' willingness to make these kinds of purchases online continue?

Only time will tell, but one thing that we can say with certainty is that the retailers poised to continue to win and preserve online business will be those who place customer experience front and center.

On-site search is an element of your user journey that delivers on so many levels. From powerful personalization, through to exacting product discovery, paths to conversion are improved, shortened and enhanced.

By deploying Klevu’s sophisticated on-site search solution, homeware brands like yours ensure that their customers enjoy all the benefits that a bespoke showroom experience could offer them, and more besides.

Want to learn more about how Klevu can help improve the experience of your homeware customers as we return to the “new normal?”
Book your demo today.

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