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September 4, 2013

DFS revamps online experience as tablet customers soar

Used multiple providers to cater to new buying habits

By Jason Stamper

Furniture retailer DFS announced the launch of a new multi-channel platform – and websites – aimed at helping it cater to the latest demands of its increasingly-mobile customers.

Analytics had shown that channels through which customers access DFS’ website are changing. The increase in consumers’ use of tablets as they search for a new sofa, for example, is increasing at an exponential rate. The data shows a staggering increase from 10% to greater than 30% in website traffic from tablets in the last 6 months, a figure likely to rise as tablets grow in popularity.

Seeking to improve the customer experience for all website users, DFS selected a number of partners including Salmon to deliver the project – bringing together people, partners and systems – Grand Union for customer experience design; Amplience for dynamic imagery and video; Worldpay’s online payment solution; ForeSee for customer experience analytics; Rackspace for hosting; and Mediacom for search optimisation.

DFS also chose IBM’s WebSphere Commerce platform to be the foundation of its sales and marketing operation and to support all its customer touch points, including tablet, PC, web, mobile, telephone sales and stores.

DFS said it carried out extensive research in collaboration with ForeSee, a customer experience analytics firm, to understand how consumers wanted to use the online environment to help them find their perfect sofa. Insights showed that customers increasingly seek inspiration, gather research and compare designs, colours and value online, before they visit a DFS store. The research also revealed that consumers rarely commit to buy without actually visiting a store first to see what the furniture is like ‘in the flesh’.

The investment in the new platform is said to run into millions of pounds.

Tim Stacey, DFS online and business development director said, "Our digital transformation directly addresses the needs of our customers, offering a rich and fully integrated experience, from inspiration to purchase. This investment will play a significant role in building on the strong performance DFS continues to deliver in 2013, as we continue to outperform the rest of the sector."

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Amongst new features ushered in with the revamp include: online videos, buying guides and sofa visualisations; chat; kiosk and iPad support in-store; social media integration and various configuration and order tracking options.

Russell Harte, head of multichannel development & delivery at DFS said "We now have a world class platform underpinning our business and supporting our digital transformation. It contains all our product details, customer information and orders and is supporting our multichannel operation. Our customers are now able to interact with us through whatever channel they choose, which is leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty and will ultimately drive DFS sales."

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