September 17, 2013, 2:49 PM

E-retailer Home Decorators designs a cozy home for shoppers using tablets

The tablet site’s conversion rate is 15% higher than the desktop site on tablets. 

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Home Decorators, an e-retailer owned by The Home Depot Inc. that sells items to help consumers renovate their homes, has done a little m-commerce design work of its own. The retailer in May launched a tablet site with the help of m-commerce vendor Usablenet Inc., and the site is paying off, the retailer says.

The conversion rate on the tablet site is about 15% higher than is the rate for consumers who visit the desktop site on tablets, says Melissa Phillips, general manager for Home Decorators Collection. Additionally, the average order value is about 20% higher and pages per visit 10% higher on the tablet-optimized site compared to when consumers use the desktop site on the tablet. “We have seen very positive metrics since launch,” Phillips says.

Home Decorators launched the tablet-specific site after noticing that customers visiting its full e-commerce site on a tablet were converting at a much lower rate than shoppers visiting the e-commerce site on a PC. With tablet traffic about 20% of total web traffic, the retailer says low tablet conversions resulted in a lot of missed sales.

The site incorporates HTML5, an emerging programming language which helps make sites look and function more like mobile apps. The site offers scrolling galleries of product images and categories, with contextual windows that feature additional product information. It also displays high-resolution product image galleries that let consumers zoom in to view rich, large product images. Shoppers also can browse curated rooms and tap to learn more about specific items contained in the displays.

When Home Decorator staffers brainstormed what they wanted out of a tablet site, they settled on two primary goals, Philips says. One, she says, was to make it easy for the customer to navigate the site with minimal taps and minimize the need for consumers to use the keyboard.

“It can sometimes be difficult shopping a full desktop site on a tablet,” she says. “The navigation buttons can be small, which makes it hard to touch the correct buttons. Also, a lot of times the images and content of a full site on a tablet can be very small and hard to see.” To solve this dilemma, the retailer added large visual navigation and larger images and content to make the site easy to shop and navigate from a tablet, she says.   

Second, Home Decorators wanted the site to be interactive and compelling. “Since we are an inspirational brand and so many of our customers use our catalog to shop, we wanted the tablet experience to mimic as closely as possible our total brand experience,” Phillips says. To do this Home Decorators used gallery room imagery on the pages to help inspire the customer, much as it does with its print catalog, she says.  

For now, when a consumer navigates to HomeDecorators.com from her tablet, she is presented with a splash box asking if she wants to visit the tablet-optimized site or the desktop site. But that will soon change, Phillips says.

“We purposely did this for the beginning of the launch so we could monitor tablet metrics of both customers that used the new tablet site and customers that chose to still use the full site,” Phillips says. “In addition we have extremely loyal customers to the brand and we wanted to make sure to do a soft introduction for them on the new site before we completely changed their experience. This allowed us to aggressively reach out for feedback and make any necessary changes. The good news is the overall feedback has been really good and we have only needed to make minor updates.”

Phillips says the number of customers that choose the tablet site continues to grow each week and based on the positive metrics the retailer will redirect all traffic to the tablet site in the coming weeks.  

The Home Depot is No. 61 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400 and No. 46 in the 2013 Top 500. Usablenet has worked with such retailers as The Container Store Inc. and teen clothing retailer Aeropostale on tablet- and smartphone-optimized sites and apps.

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