Answering customer questions with AR
DFS, a UK-based furniture giant, has been in business for 5 decades and has grown through the years from a small, family-run business into the largest sofa manufacturer and retailer in Britain. Nearly 100% of their retail business is conducted in the United Kingdom and they have their own manufacturing unit where they make their sofas by hand. Today, DFS has well over 100 stores along with a strong digital presence and a rapidly growing top-ranked eCommerce site.
DFS started many years ago in Doncaster, where they’re still headquartered today. Their founder Graham Kirkham had visions of expanding the business while keeping their strongly rooted Yorkshire traditions and values front-of-mind. They have never wavered on their commitment to bringing the ‘joy of comfort’ to their customers because a sofa is more than just a piece of furniture – it’s a place where home life happens.
DFS prides itself on offering great choices and great value on all of their high quality, hand made sofas. DFS also offers several options when it comes to payment, such as interest-free credit and flexibility in making payments. They have built their reputable brand around giving customers the ultimate “joy of comfort” with whatever couch suits their lifestyle.
DFS realized early on that the majority of their customers – 80% – were using the ROBO method: research online, buy offline. For a furniture retailer, the showroom will always play an important role in the customer journey, as the majority of customers want to do a ‘sit test’ on their shortlist of sofas to ensure maximum comfort and quality. However, DFS recognised that they can better help customers answer common questions in the inspiration and research stages: 1) what will this look like in my home? 2) will it match my style? and 3) will it actually fit in my space? They wanted to offer customers the best and most convenient tools to easily answer these questions, without requiring multiple trips back and forth between the store and home. Shopping was a multi-step process.
DFS did anecdotal and formal research, from talking to customers in-person (tape measure in hand), to focus groups and surveys, and quickly discovered that their customers wanted a simpler shopping experience. Not only that, they wanted the confidence to purchase the custom furniture item right on their computer and have it delivered to their doorstep, without having to run back and forth to and from the store with a tape measure.
So DFS began the search for a technology partner who could help them achieve their Omnichannel model, bridging the gap between purchases to meet the customer wherever and whenever they shopped. They also needed a technology platform that could scale to meet its vast inventory of more than 7,200 products.
Increase in conversion lift
Revenue per visit increase
ROI with AR
“DFS prides itself on bringing comfort to our customers because a sofa is more than just a piece of furniture – it’s a place where home life happens. We knew that 3D & AR would deliver an innovative shopping experience that went far beyond video or still images. Now digital shoppers can bring a virtual sofa into their home or office, and even walk around it, to see if it fits their space and matches the existing style of the room. The results so far have been outstanding, and we are successfully growing online sales through our partnership with Vertebrae.”
– James Vernon, head of online
DFS recognized that 3D and AR would provide an immersive experience that went far beyond video or still images to let shoppers truly experience what a sofa would look like in their own home. By empowering shoppers to access detailed, true-to-scale virtual renderings of more than 7,200 sofas without the disruption of an app download, DFS could seamlessly boost purchase confidence and bolster its reputation for helpful, straightforward shopping experiences.
They also knew that immersive features would help solve the problems their customers were having (bye, bye tape measures!) and would give DFS the ability to convert more sales on the checkout page, as well as shorten the duration of the sales cycle. After evaluating several technology vendors, they selected Vertebrae because of its proven technology platform and unique Web-based model that could scale with DFS to accommodate growth, as well as keep the clients on the product pages without having to leave the site and download an application. DFS also felt Vertebrae was a good cultural fit: sharing similar growth and company visions they felt Vertebrae really “got it” and understood their pain points.
When DFS launched on Boxing Day 2019, they had the largest web-based AR rollout in the world – 7,225 products could be viewed, zoomed-in, spun around at 360-degrees, and visualized in the customer’s home. DFS has seen 4 times more incremental revenue generated per month than originally forecasted on products with 3D and AR-enabled. They have also seen a 22X return on their investment with AR, working with Vertebrae. When DFS was forced to close their physical stores due to COVID-19, the 3D & AR experiences gave shoppers the freedom to shop from the safety of their home and gave them peace of mind that their furniture would fit their space and style. For shoppers who interacted with 3D and AR, DFS has seen a conversion lift of 112% and a revenue per visit lift of 106% over shoppers who have not engaged.
DFS’s strategy and timing have played a key part in their success. They launched during their big winter sale when they have a full range of available items at a great price. In addition, they followed best practices and A/B testing, outlined out by our experts here at Vertebrae. But most importantly they always, always listen to their customers.
Try it for yourself
Select any of the images below to launch a DFS immersive commerce experience.