June 24, 2010, 3:06 PM

New feature lets do-it-yourself decorators mix and match online

Rugs Direct hopes to take the power of viewing many products online a step further.

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Online shoppers can view more products more quickly by clicking through a web site than walking along a showroom floor. But just because shoppers can see more online doesn’t mean they are going to buy more. Rugs Direct hopes a new feature unveiled this month will boost sales by taking the power of viewing many products online a step further. Inspired Colors enables shoppers to  click on nine separate color groupings and search through an array of pillows, wall art and other home furnishings that match the rugs they are viewing.

 “The first thing [shoppers] think about is color,” says Randy Kremer, president of Rugs Direct, who hopes shoppers will now use Rugs-Direct.com to completely redecorate whole rooms. Color coding all of the extras was relatively easy, Kremer says. “We just had to decide on a master color scheme,” he says. Rugs Direct eventually chose chocolate, wine, silver, daffodil, and five others. All of the new products that shoppers can mix and match with the new feature are from manufacturer Surya, but Rugs Direct plans to form similar partnerships with other manufacturers soon.         

 A web site redesign completed this April was crucial in making Inspired Colors, which was developed in house, work properly, says Greg Culler, the chief information officer at Rugs Direct. “We had limitations with the way our data was structured,” Culler says. Searches with multiple fields, such as theme color and size, had been taking longer than 30 seconds to produce results. Adding new classes of products from suppliers like Surya would have slowed down searches even more, he says.  

 As part of the web site upgrade, Rugs Direct, which today offers 70,000 items on its site and attracts about 30,000 unique visitors a month, purchased new servers and upgraded to the newest version of the Information Access Platform from site search vendor Endeca Technologies Inc. That upgrade not only gave it more rich features, such as zoom, but also restructured the site’s back-end database, delivering search results for even multiple field queries in less than 10 seconds. Furthermore, each day, the Endeca software scans for new products on the site. As new items are added, including those that go with the Rugs Direct Inspired Colors tool, they automatically are slotted into a color scheme and pop up in search, “It would have been tough to pull this off without a redesign,” Culler says.

 

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