December 1, 2010, 12:00 AM

The touch of home through the web

Housewares, home and hardware e-retailers are trying to make home decor decisions less painful for consumers.

Online shoppers can have a hard time telling what will look good inside a home, especially when it comes to paint or window treatments. But this year’s Hot 100 retailers in housewares, home and hardware are trying to make those decisions less painful for consumers.

Benjamin Moore & Co. this year launched its first e-commerce site, and the paint company knew it could not just offer a few bits of advice and be done with it. That’s why visitors to the company’s e-commerce site can use a tool called Personal Color Viewer, which enables shoppers to upload photos and digitally paint their rooms with Benjamin Moore colors. The company also offers a paint calculator and a host of tips.

Blinds.com, meanwhile, offers site visitors a feature called Blind-Finder, which poses six basic questions, such as how important is insulation from heat or cold, to help shoppers make the best choices. To make sure consumers measure correctly, the site offers instructions by text and by videos, including an interactive three-dimensional video.

Of course, some home improvers will have to visit bricks-and-mortar stores. That’s why AceHardware.com uses geolocation software and Google Inc. interactive map technology to show visitors the nearest retail locations. The home page also features free shipping to stores. And consumers can designate a particular location as their local Ace, allowing access to store-specific promotions and events. “We want to tie our expertise into the shopping experience,” says Dana Kevish, e-commerce marketing and digital department manager.

When it comes to home and housewares, it is education that can be key to online and multichannel success.

 

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