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By Nicole Giannopoulos
Growth often creates space management challenges. From business to family, all kinds of people need to adapt their spaces to unique and changing needs. Since 2001 Smart Furniture, an online furniture retailer and pioneer of the innovative design-on-demand model, has been customizing furniture to personalize customers’ spaces. Everyone from homeowners to business owners has a space to make more attractive, productive or organized…if it’s easy enough. In order to allow customers to design their own furniture and spaces quickly and easily, the retailer developed the SmartSpace design-on-demand platform.
SmartSpace was developed to solve the problem many furniture shoppers encounter: what will this furniture look like in my space? The platform enables customers to see customized furniture products in the context of their own spaces, using personal photos to provide real-world visualizations of customized furniture combinations in the context of their home or office.
“At Smart Furniture, we believe that the space that surrounds you should reflect who you are – your style, your personality, your identity,” says T.J. Gentle, CEO of Smart Furniture. “Our goal with SmartSpace is to make it possible for customers to see how the world around them will look before they complete an order.”
The Drawing Board
Beginning from the ground up, Smart Furniture internally created a tool to use 2D images in layers, allowing customers to determine how furniture will look.
In August 2013, the retailer upgraded to a .NET architecture for the program to operate more quickly. With the architecture in place, it built an e-commerce platform to deliver the application. For site search, it selected Omniture, which integrates seamlessly into the platform.
The SmartSpace tool “empowers the customer to make better, smarter decisions and find the right product,” says Gentle.
Educating customers on how this tool can help them to make a decision proved to be difficult: “It’s a helpful toolset, but because it doesn’t exist with other retailers, it’s a challenge to incorporate into the shopping experience,” says Gentle. “Until it proliferates, many look at it but don’t use it.”
An update to the tool will be launched this December to include: a “My Space” option on a customer’s account page; recommendations based on selections; and layering the store with a realistic space to enhance the customer experience.
“While we’re still early in the SmartSpace launch, we’ve seen a positive response with a 75-85% conversion rate over the last three months,” notes Gentle. “We’re in uncharted territory and are continually updating and customizing – helping customers to make better decisions. And now they can help us become smarter to make better decisions, too,” says Gentle.
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