WT Commerce has been working with DFS, the UK's leading upholsterer with more than 110 stores nationwide, since 2013. As the company’s digital requirements have continued to evolve, with a significant increase in mobile and online shoppers and noticeable shifts in consumer behaviour over that time, we have had the opportunity to help transform its digital offer and create a smarter, seamless, more integrated shopping experience across all channels.
Pioneering an Omnichannel Customer Interaction
DFS wanted to bring its ecommerce operations inhouse to regain control over them. Its ambition was to be the leading sofa retailer in the digital age.
Research showed that 85% of customers began their sofa buying research online, with around 90% of customers subsequently visiting a showroom to conduct a “sit-test” before completing their purchase. So while there was a strong focus on investing in the website to ensure it inspired customers and made it easy for them to browse and buy online, we also recognised the need for omnichannel integration that would support consumer preference for flexibility across digital and physical showrooms.
In 2016, we built a new commerce platform for DFS on IBM Websphere Commerce (now HCL Commerce). This was designed to provide DFS with easy-to-use tools for the business to centrally manage its cross-channel strategy and focus squarely on customer engagement.
That proved to be the start of journey which, with WTC’s support, has seen DFS continue to invest heavily in its digital offer. Some of the solutions we delivered included:
- New tools aimed at Improving inspiration and discovery at the beginning of the digital journey, such as a product locator linked to showroom stock availability and a ‘sofa sizer’, plus the introduction of user-generated content, vlog and blog partnerships and 3D sofa models to further drive engagement.
- An optimized mobile site, which featured new engagement tools such as mobile text chat and AI-driven customer service “chat bot” tools.
- Multiple innovations to digitise the in-store experience, including an AR tool that allows iPhone and iPad users to visualise how a piece of furniture looks in their home before purchase, digital signage to display extended ranges, and integration between sales and service platforms and customer browsing data so staff can make more personalised recommendations.
- A new post-purchase tool that lets customers track their order and book their own delivery slots online. Around 50% of customers now use this functionality, resulting in higher NPS scores and increased efficiency.
In addition, over a nine-month period from 2019 to 2020, we undertook a huge project to migrate DFS’s entire digital infrastructure to a cloud hosting environment and introduce a sweeping range of system automations, allowing us to achieve a step-change in the pace of delivery as manual activities were updated and replaced.
Since 2013, DFS has made huge inroads in delivering digitally integrated retail experiences for its 40 million visitors a year, whether they’re shopping online, in-store, or both. Digital sales now make up 20% of the total business.
As of 2020 and the completion of the latest round of development:
- Conversion rates are up a huge +22% on a two-year basis
- Slicker navigation and filtering have delivered a +37% improvement to the “add to cart” rate
- Mobile traffic is up +8% YoY, now representing 64% of all website traffic
- Front end enhancements including AR, imagery and AI have helped drive an increase of +9% average order value.