Problem: Crate and Barrel was facing a number of business challenges, including increased competition and low awareness of the company as a furniture store. As sales slowed, an improved customer experience became top priority to reshape how it sold furniture. The proceeding solution resulted in record-breaking sales for Crate and Barrel, both online and in stores.

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A further issue Crate and Barrel faced was an outdated attribution model, which created artificial competition between eCommerce and brick-and-mortar stores and prevented a cohesive omni-channel shopping experience for customers. Additionally, outdated website templates meant the company was selling kitchen gadgets much in the same way it sold expensive furniture — despite the glaring differences in how consumers shop for both types of products.

One size does not fit all
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Journey Mapping Workshop
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Discovery: We started by interviewing internal stakeholders including furniture designers and store associates to get their perspective. We also used product reviews, prior research and other data to collect voice of the customer insights. Finally, we held a journey mapping workshop to identify the biggest customer pain points and build empathy along the buying experience. All of this was done through the lens of our “Savvy Stylist” persona.

With all this information, we quickly realized it was too much to take on at one time, and decided to focus on the consideration, validation and purchase phases of the customer journey for this project. We knew we needed to create content and new shopping tools, with the goal of launching improvements in time for our annual upholstery sale, when traffic would be at its peak.

Persona and Journey Map
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Competitive Audit
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We conducted a competitive audit that included both past competitors and companies entering the market. In addition, we included sites from other categories to understand how they sold products that required more consumer consideration (eg. car sites and high-end strollers). From here we started to sketch.

Existing Templates and Sketching
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As solutions started to form, we built prototypes and showed them to customers to get their feedback. We conducted five rounds of studies, both remotely and in person. The fidelity of the prototypes started low and increased to more polished interfaces as we proceeded. Between each round, we adjusted these prototypes based on what we learned and shared our findings with the rest of the team.

User Research
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(Left): Old Photography Right: New Photography

Through reviewing customer feedback, we found that: 1. Seeing products in the context of a room is helpful and 2. Accessories like rugs help to demonstrate product scale

We used this to update the art direction of our product photography. Four new photography sets were built to match our new furniture categories. A new photo studio was rented to accommodate these new shots.

New Art Direction
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Solution: The design team updated templates with a focus on selling furniture. The traditional square product photo was replaced by a horizontal, 16:9 photograph that allowed our most expensive pieces (sofas, sectionals, beds, dining room tables, etc.) to shine. A fixed header kept “Add to Cart” always available as users scrolled the page. We also selected more conversational product description copy to go with these photos.

Product Detail Pages
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One of our biggest goals was to improve the customers' experience shopping and researching between the online and in-store experiences. The majority of online furniture sales happen within a short distance of a physical store, and we knew that customers are researching across various channels. Our first concepts included an elaborate communication system between a dedicated store associate and a customer. These proved to be too complicated.

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(Left): The "See it in Your Store" module on our product detail page allows customers to find out if a product is on display in their local store before they make a trip. Additionally, if the desired product is not on display, the module will tell them if a related product is on display in their local store.

(Right): The team created a new tool called CrateBrower for store associates. This tool allows associates to create a recap list to send home with customers via email. If a customer makes a purchase in the following months, the associate gets credit for the sale. This update to sales attribution within the company had a huge improvement in the customer experience as the divide between channels closed.

Connecting online to stores
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One of the most common questions customers have about upholstery is about comfort. User research indicates that the concept of comfort is also highly subjective. Our solution was to create four attributes that allowed customers to compare the comfort of sofas relative to one another. Additionally, we created a series of videos showing individuals and families using our top selling sofas.

Comfort Solution
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Another challenge for customers is understanding the size of a product and whether it will fit in their space. The website contained a set of dimensions, which were audited to improve accuracy and consistency. Product images were enhanced with key measurements to help the customer quickly understand size. In addition, we created a video to help buyers prepare for delivery and avoid having to return a product that could not fit through a doorway or staircase.

Result: After monitoring sales for three months we attributed an improvement in add to cart, site conversion and average order value to these updates. In addition, store associates started to see the website as a tool to help sell products, as opposed to competition.

Fit Solution