5 Attributes of a Standout Website
The conversation around retail websites is evolving. Only a few short years ago, we reached a consensus that furniture retailers needed a web presence to thrive. The next surprise was that big-ticket items could successfully sell online. Then Search Optimization became a critical conversation to help websites get ranked by Google. Today the conversation progresses again as we talk about moving beyond simply having a website to creating one that WOWS.
With more furniture retailers having a presence on the world wide web, it’s crucial to set your website apart. If it’s something your brand has been considering, it may be an untapped opportunity!
eCommerce or not, your website is your brand’s flagship store and the caliber of customer experience delivered through a website should be significant. Let’s dive into some key website functionality that leading retailers are taking advantage of.
- Multi-Media Visual Content: The ability to support multi-media content on your website is critical to customer engagement. High-resolution photography, video sliders, shop the look vignettes, and 360-degree showroom browsers are popular with retail consumers looking to explore online. Further “animation allows one to translate more information in an efficient way, driving attention and helping to tell a story in a few seconds. Animating logos, backgrounds, and menus means better engagement.” (Depositphotos via Forbes) Your website platform must be a foundation for strong website design and support the execution of creative ideas.
- Sleek UX/UI Design: Once you WOW a customer visually, the site must be designed for conversion. Popular design features balanced flow and organized navigation offset by brand-specific whimsical elements and bold fonts that draw the consumer’s eye to calls-to-actions. This is where your website partner’s industry expertise and design service capabilities become essential. A strong website partner will help you define the goals of a site as a first step to figuring out how to layout the User Experience. (CreativeBloq)
- Inventory Look Up Capabilities: The primary function of a furniture retail website is to capture the interest of the shopper and drive that traffic into your store. An important way to do that is to set customer expectations. Pricing must be consistent in-store and online; inconsistent pricing across platforms is a vocalized pain point for consumers. WOW consumers by letting them know what merchandise is available in their local showrooms, what the stock availability is, and when they can anticipate delivery if they do decide to purchase. These features help to satisfy instant gratification. Indicating special order products and customizable options is also important. However, we caution retailers to ensure that all this information is up-to-date. It’s counter-productive to declare something is in your showroom only to have the customer arrive and not find it there. This is where real-time integration across technology starts to set retailers apart.
- Real-Time Shopping Carts & Design Boards: To pass specific information across retail systems, the real-time shopping cart is a powerful tool. Integration allows customers to browse online, shop in-store, and finalize a purchase back at home. Retail designers, can also update Wishlist’s or Design Boards that the customer can check in on at home for larger scale projects, building an interactive relationship through technology.
- Customer Dashboard: Finally, Amazon Prime has set the standard in customers managing their on-going relationship with a retailer. Websites should aim to have a dashboard for customers to view and manage open orders, check on the delivery status, update a delivery date if needed, and manage payments on their account. Retailers that put these controls and information into their customer’s hands are increasing satisfaction.
Retailers must provide both backend functionality and front-end customer experience to manage a successful website. The furniture industry is ready for retailers to lead the industry’s eCommerce charge. In fact, reprioritizing your web initiatives could be a huge benefit to your business.
Written by Caitlin Jascewsky. Caitlin writes STORIS’ educational content and manages STORIS.com, focusing on how retailers can use technology to enhance their customer experience. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Caitlin worked in retail for 7 years before joining STORIS.