Our homes became the center of our world during the coronavirus pandemic. We consumed the majority of our food at home, worked from home, learned from home, socialized from home, and shopped from home. Having crossed the initial barrier to consistent online shopping, customer’s online shopping behavior became more intentional and focused.
Beginning in 2018, Statista showed that over half of Generation X and Millennials customers were willing to shop for home accents and large furniture online. By 2020, that willingness became more apparent. According to NetElixir’s dataset throughout 2020, the home furnishing retail category saw explosive growth throughout the year. Sales peaked around the beginning of August, growing at 170%+ YoY after over four months of steady 100%+ growth.
As the pandemic continued, consumer’s online shopping behavior shifted to adapt to rapid digital and social changes and to accommodate working- and learning-from-home. NetElixir’s 2021 FACES research report delves into the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on consumer behavior trends in 2020 across e-commerce industries. Today, we look at how the online shopping behavior of the high-value customer of the home furnishing industry changed over the course of 2020.
The NetElixir Retail Intelligence Lab analyzed over two million unique online consumer paths-to-purchase across ten retail categories. Our goal was to better understand ongoing changes in online shopping behaviors and trends of high-value customers. We divided our data into three timeframes:
- Pre-pandemic (Jan. 1 – Mar. 15, 2020)
- Non-holiday pandemic (Mar. 16 – Nov. 15, 2020)
- Holiday pandemic (Nov. 16 – Dec. 25, 2020)
Meet the high-value shopper for the home furnishing retail industry:
Online Shopping Trends for Home Furnishing
Prior to the pandemic, the high-value customer for the home furnishing industry was a morning shopper. She visited a website around ten AM and made her purchases around 11 AM on Tuesdays. Presumably, she shopped earlier in the week and day to be able to have her home remade and decor updated in time for the weekend for whatever she was hosting. She visited a website about eight times prior to purchasing and waited almost four days between initial website visit and purchase. On average, she visited a website just over twice a day.
She seemed to desire a change in her home more often than the average customer, so this desire for something new was heightened during the pandemic. As the pandemic progressed, her online shopping habits became more purposeful. During the height of the pandemic, she visited a website even earlier than before: she visited at nine AM and made her purchase at ten AM on a Monday. While she could no longer host parties on weekends as she did before, she was now possibly changing her virtual background decor or buying new office furniture.
While she still visited a website eight times prior to making a purchase, she now took only two days and about five hours between her first website visit and completing an order. She visited a website about three times a day during the pandemic.
Her average order value dropped significantly during the pandemic, from $429.52 for an average of 2.6 items to $366.58 for an average of 2.5 items per order. This high-value customer was probably ordering small pieces of furniture and decor to make small changes throughout her house. She now had more rooms to work with and more people within those rooms who grew tired of looking at the same things over and over. She also probably wanted to recreate her home as both a place of productivity during working hours and relaxation during off-hours.
As Al Bessin, the Chief Operating Officer of Circa Lighting, said in a conversation with NetElixir, “shoppers sought comfort in their home during the pandemic.” He surmised that people sought design changes after looking at the same lamp and furniture day in and day out. Bessin said that the pandemic was “impacting people’s desire and want to have a more comfortable place to work.”
At Home on Mobile
As customers sought more comfort in their homes, so too they wanted a comfortable and seamless online shopping experience. Shoppers tend to find bigger screens easier to see their home furnishing choices. Pre-pandemic, our high-value shopper used her mobile phone for only 10% of her searches and to place 17% of her orders. Like other industries, this high-value shopper grew more comfortable searching and shopping on her mobile device as the pandemic progressed. From March to November of last year, she conducted almost 15% of her searches and made almost 22% of her purchases on her mobile device. As the holidays neared, she grew even more comfortable with using her mobile device more in her buying cycle. Nearly 20% of her first website visits and 23% of her orders were made on her phone.
Creating a user-friendly shopping experience helps bridge the gap between mobile and desktop searches.
How the Holidays Quickened Online Shopping Behavior
In preparation for her homebound holiday celebration, our high-value customer visited a website at noon and made her purchase at noon on Monday. She no longer searched exclusively in the morning, though she was still more active at the beginning of the week. She still visited a website eight times prior to making a purchase but was taking less than two days between the initial website visit and order completion.
The holidays called for new decorations and new furniture to accommodate different celebrations. Her AOV was close to $500 and the items per order rose to an average of three and a half. These could have been holiday-specific items to create a festive atmosphere to make the homebound holidays special and different than the prior months spent inside, as many more people were spending the holidays in their homes.
The Home Furnishing industry saw the greatest increase in holiday e-commerce sales, second only to the Food and Gourmet industry. During the Cyber 5, orders for home furnishing grew over 70% YoY.
Online Shopping Expectations for These High-Value Customers
Between zoom backgrounds and spending long hours working from home, our high-value home furnishing shopper cares about how she navigates her space. She likes to change her surroundings so she is not bored by the same designs. To keep her interested, continually offer new products and patterns to give her options. Consider sending out your newsletters early in the morning on a Monday or Tuesday, when she is more likely to be searching for inspiration.
Home furnishing brands can get creative in how they display their products. For example, Al Bessin of Circa Lighting took advantage of more flexible work hours and the increase of online shoppers. He sought to create an active dialogue online with his audience by increasing their social media and online events with more virtual tours and showrooms.
Further Resources on Understanding Your High-Value Customers
Through our research, we can begin to understand what effect the coronavirus pandemic had on online shopping behavior. As part of NetElixir’s ongoing research in online shopping behavior, we will offer a weekly in-depth analysis into one of the ten retail categories explored in NetElixir’s 2021 FACES report. Tune in on Fridays to learn more about your industry’s high-value customers. Last week, we delved into the online shopping behavior of the high-value customer of the Pet Supplies retail industry. We used LXRInsights to analyze and aggregate the data for FACES. Please use FACES as a benchmark for your industry. Request a demo of LXRInsights for specifics into your business at https://www.lxrinsights.com/.
Create a seamless experience throughout your customer’s shopping journey. NetElixir’s proprietary customer analytics tool, LXRInsights, charts the paths-to-purchase of your high-value customers. Using our technology, you can track customer touchpoints and build customer personas for more personalized campaigns.