Shopping for a new couch or rug is unlike any other kind of shopping. First, customers don’t buy these kinds of household items as often they do other products, and they often don’t know what to search for. Instead of knowing the right keywords to search, buying home items is more about the visual approach and knowing what items look good in the space. A customer might want a blue rug, but they don’t know what brands or details to put into the search bar.
That’s part of the reason Wayfair, the largest online provider of home goods, relies so heavily on algorithms and analytics. The company has algorithms for managing all areas of the customer experience, from what a customer sees on targeted web ads to what delivery experience they have and how often they receive marketing emails. It’s all in an effort to better understand customers and make it easier and better to buy home items online.
Wayfair uses visual search and computer vision to add a visual element to AI. Customers can take a picture of something they see at a friend’s house or in a store, and Wayfair’s visual search finds products that look similar. It makes for a more pleasant shopping experience than trying to find the right keywords to match the look a customer is going for.
According to John Kim, Wayfair’s global head algorithms and analytics, much of the company’s success in customer experience comes from how it leverages its computer vision. Wayfair has 1,900 engineers and data scientists that are broken down into customer experience pods. One group focuses solely on how customers find what they are looking for, including things like keyword search, visual search and targeted ads. Another pod focuses solely on the buying aspect of the customer experience and makes it as seamless as possible for customers to buy what they want. Pods work together to make their aspect of customer experience the best it can be. By bringing together data scientists and engineers, the pod can not only come up with great ideas, but it also has the skillset to put them into action quickly.
Wayfair’s culture focuses on customers and analytics. No matter if an employee is in marketing or IT, they understand the importance of analytics and can speak the language. Customers are the focus of everything the company does, and it aims to move quickly and respond to customer needs.
Wayfair also uses technology as it moves towards the future. It recently partnered with Magic Leap to introduce mixed reality shopping, which allows customers to virtually see products in their homes to make sure they fit the space and style of the room before making a purchase. It brings together the best of AR and VR for an enhanced shopping experience.
AI is the future, and it has a major role to play a Wayfair. Focusing on algorithms, visual shopping and AI-powered analytics drives a successful customer experience and makes it easier for customers to find what they need online.
Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, futurist and author of “More Is More.” Sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here.