3 ways to give online furniture shoppers a real-life product experience

Online furniture sales can be boosted by giving shoppers a real-life product experience.

The recent buoyancy in the housing market, coupled with increasing consumer confidence is swelling sales in home and furniture categories, but shoppers are conscious of the risks associated with buying online. Those risks come in the form of the inconvenience of a product turning up at their house that isn’t quite what they were expecting.

Sending an unsuitable wardrobe back to a retailer is more of a challenge than returning a pair of shoes, so online furniture shoppers tend to be more cautious about their purchase decision in an online shop.

From a customer experience point of view, evaluating the visual information that shoppers are getting at product level is important to increase online conversion and reduce bounce rates.

No matter what is said on the product description, product images will tell their own story and any gaps or discrepancies the images throw up will reduce a shopper’s confidence to purchase.

The focus now for leading multi-channel retailers is to give customers a consistent experience, whatever channel or platform they use to shop or experience their brand. This places a renewed emphasis on the product images that are used to give the shopper information about the product, and to sell it, by highlighting its design attributes and promoting its desirability.

When you evaluate the quality of the product experience on your site, these are three key areas to check on:

1. How well do your product images match the real life way shoppers interact with your product?

A good example to illustrate this concept is wardrobes. What is the first thing you do when you look at a wardrobe in store? Open it, of course. Yet an easy majority of wardrobe retailers don’t give their online shoppers an image of the inside of the wardrobe!

Plan your product experience by giving customers images that mimic the real life experience.

2. Is key product information consistent across every image?

In furniture and soft furnishings, colour is a major feature. Shoppers are very particular about making sure that the colour of the product they are considering is the right one for their home. Again, it is very common for retailers using multiple images for a product, to overlook the fact that the different images appear to show different colours. This is a huge issue for the customer – if they are not sure about the colour of a product, they are much less likely to buy.

Make sure you have QC processes in place to ensure consistency across images.

3. Is there a balance between functional and aspirational images?

Functional images are important to give the online shopper key factual information about a product, i.e. its shape, size and colour. Incorporating aspirational images is important for higher priced products, or those that could be described as key pieces for the home or for a room. Aspirational is all about creating desire vs giving information. Many retailers go to a default roomset image to cover this off, but this is an expensive route. Aspirational images can be achieved much more cost effectively by paying attention to angles, composition and the use of a more graphic setting – without affecting the conversion rate.

How to improve the online product experience for your customers

The key to giving customers a better online product experience comes down to a simple process change – improving the photography briefing process, starting with being very clear about exactly what images are required to give your customers the best experience of your products when they are shopping.

From here you can manage your photography producers, whether they are in house or an external supplier, giving you greater control over the experience quality and conversion from your online product range.

We’ve worked with many of the UK’s leading retailers, brands, manufactures and creative agencies; and we’d love to help you too. Simply drop us a line at tim@vedodigital.com or tweet us on @Vedo_Tim and we’ll be in touch.

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