The Internet offers consumers an array of resources for accessing information, browsing inventory and purchasing items from the convenience of their homes or with mobile devices. However, many shoppers still value the rich, interactive experiences that take place within brick-and-mortar stores. These omni-channel consumer behaviors present an opportunity for retailers to integrate digital and physical channels and engagement tactics for more compelling shopping experiences.
To create more seamless browsing and buying processes that are customized to shoppers’ personal styles, Serena & Lily— a linens and homewares retailer — leverages a product configuration solution from Fluid, a digital commerce agency and merchandising solution provider.
The Make Your Bed tool allows Serena & Lily site visitors to choose from a seasonal selection of bed duvets, sheets, shams, blankets and throw pillows and create their own bed designs, offering customers “a better way to visualize our products and how they work together,” according to Melissa Richardson, Director of e-Commerce and Online Marketing for Serena & Lily.
As of June 2012, Serena & Lily has experienced a boost in overall value-per-order among Make Your Bed users versus standard e-Commerce visitors, Richardson reported. Additionally, the customization tool is featured in emails to targeted consumers, as well as in online advertising, said Richardson, “and has been a good hook to drive click-throughs to our site.
“The catalogue-style photography we provide online helps shoppers make better decisions,” Richardson told Retail TouchPoints. “But there are so many combinations and pieces that work with each other that we can’t show them all. We wanted to offer site visitors an easy way to mix and match bedding combinations that they’d like to see, allowing them to visualize potential purchases more effectively.”
The Fluid Retail: Configure solution allows Serena & Lily to create a more customized and interactive brand experience for shoppers. The on-demand module was designed to be compatible with existing assets and infrastructure, including e-Commerce platforms, analytics services, and manufacturing and fulfillment systems, ensuring a more seamless implementation process.
Interactivity: The Core Of Customization Once bed designs and configurations are completed in the Make Your Bed tool, shoppers can share their Serena & Lily bedding creations with friends and family through email, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Using this strategy helps increase word-of-mouth about Serena & Lily products, and also allows consumers to connect with the brand more intimately, Richardson reported.
“Our target audience is active on Facebook and Pinterest,” Richardson said, “which allow an open forum for our shoppers to share collections and items they’re looking at to their family and friends.”
Additionally, consumers can use the Make Your Bed tool to sift through inventory based on who the design is for — men, women, girls or boys — creating an easier process for choosing colors, patterns and overall aesthetics, according to Brian Biggs, Senior Director of Product Management for Fluid. As a result, it is “easy for shoppers to envision different patterns and colors, and omit certain items, creating a fully customized experience,” he reported. “We try to make that visualization as accurate as possible to drive engagement.”
Serena & Lily has two core audiences, according to Richardson: 30- to 40-year-old mothers, and interior design enthusiasts. Overall, the Make Your Bed feature “was designed to appeal to those interior design enthusiasts who believe their homes are an extension of their personal styles,” she explained. “These consumers take great pride in the aesthetic of their homes, so we wanted to provide an outlet that allows easy visualization of products in context.”
To increase participation and time spent using the Make Your Bed tool, Serena & Lily also includes a digital design board, which allows visitors to save and refer to collections they create throughout online sessions.
“We noticed that when visitors started to design beds, at a certain point they start to slow down in their participation and general activity,” Biggs said. “This happened because they were comfortable with a certain design. The design board is a simple way for users to save more than one design during online sessions and refer to different combinations.” The retailer also offers a selection of pre-made designs, developed by the brand, to give consumers inspiration when they are unsure of the patterns, colors and themes to pursue.
Serena & Lily also is considering rolling out a user-submitted gallery to the site, which will allow shoppers to upload their favorite creations. The retailer also may offer a commenting feature for peers to share their potential purchases and feedback.