Brenda Boehler: When I look to where we want to take our business next, there are a number of new technologies that will greatly help people as they decorate their homes. There’re a number of concepts in other verticals that have not been implemented in our vertical yet. We have a website that has over 500,000 lighting and home furnishing products from 500 different manufacturers. We have a wide assortment.
There is one type of customer that just wants to come to that site to replace a broken light fixture. That involves an easy navigation, a solution, and a wide assortment. Another type of customer has a passion for decorating. The third type of customer is the one we are looking to help. The concept is, “10 Easy Steps to Find the Perfect Chandelier.” Through a series of visual navigation, we help customers find the perfect product whether it’s a chandelier or sofa for their space and doing it in an intuitive way where they come down to a curated assortment.
We do carry 500,000 products but, sometimes, that’s overwhelming for people. Decorating is difficult for people. Why not give them the tools to simplify it? This is one solution for a customer that needs a little help and it’s something that we’re working on now.
Sramana Mitra: I did an e-commerce company in online fashion. It was one of the first ever. This was 1999. It was very early. People were not ready to buy clothes online. My concept was exactly what you’re talking about. You have five floors of merchandise, of which a very small percentage applies to you. What you cannot do in retail, you can do in an online mode.
You can personalize a store to just show the merchandise that applies to that particular shopper. I think what you’re saying is that kind of personalization and narrowing down of the options applies in the home furnishing vertical as well. You’re trying to cluster decorating styles and styles of furnitures that go together and show a personalized store to your consumer.
Brenda Boehler: You’re exactly right. When it comes to decorating your home, there are some people who clearly understand the difference between a modern and a casual style. A lot of consumers do not, but they know what they like visually. The more we can layer in visual search and navigation, it’s just another way to help people shop and make them feel comfortable that it’s being done specifically for their personal style.
Sramana Mitra: How do you deal with that visual aspect when it comes to lighting?
Brenda Boehler: It’s a bit more complicated because of the physical size but it is no different than a sofa. It’s just there with may be a few more touch points that you will have to work through to get the perfect curated assortment for that customer. When you think about it, you start with a room. If you start with a dining room, then you move to the side of the ceiling. Then you move to a style and maybe three more questions.
It is a simplification that is needed. I’ve seen it in the hair color space. I’ve seen it with Stitch Fix. You can answer a series of questions that will get to your specific style. It’s just a subset of that type of a model. We see that as one way people shop. At our core, we offer a broad assortment of products. Within that, the more we can layer in targeted approaches and then send communications to the different types of customers based on the way they shop, that’s a unique approach within our space.
We all live in an Amazon world. I read that two-thirds of all dollars spent online go to Amazon. As an online retailer, it’s all about the experience that you have that can differentiate you versus an Amazon.