In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
The retailer updates its web site to remove purchasing barriers based on what they say.
Web-only custom window treatment retailer Blinds.com works constantly to lift the shades on what is holding up shoppers as they try to check out. By collecting customer feedback via short surveys placed in the checkout flow, it learns what obstacles are keeping shoppers from completing orders—then removes the obstacles.
For example, some shoppers expressed concern that they hadn’t correctly measured the dimensions for blinds they were ordering, which made them hesitate to complete the transaction. “Based on this feedback, we created our SureFit Guarantee, which removed the fear about making a complex buying decision online—like custom window coverings—by promising to replace any mis-measured product at no charge to the customer,” a Blinds.com spokeswoman says. “This is no longer a barrier to purchase for our customers.”
She notes that, while only 1% of customers have ever used the guarantee to replace a window treatment, “anecdotally, we know that it really, really matters for customers’ peace of mind.” She did not say exactly how much order completions increased after introducing SureFit.
Blinds.com creates surveys and custom digital comment cards that web site visitors can fill out with their thoughts and opinions using an Internet-hosted software tool from vendor iPerceptions. The retailer combines the data from iPerceptions with post-call surveys from its contact center, product ratings and reviews, customer feedback from social media and the answers from a post-purchase letter Blinds.com CEO Jay Steinfeld sends to every customer, the spokeswoman says. That letter, which asks for a suggestion of one thing the retailer could do better, garners about 70 responses per day and often leads to longer conversations with customers willing to explain their suggestions, she adds.
The company acts quickly on what it learns. Blinds.com can fix small site holdups, like confusing text or difficulty finding a link, within minutes, the spokeswoman says. However, changes that require a major redesign, such as the retailer’s in-the-works project of simplifying its site checkout process, can take months to complete, she says. If Blinds.com can’t fix a shopper’s problem right away, a customer service agent tries to resolve it for the customer personally within 48 hours.
“Anyone can ‘listen,’ but it takes a well-coordinated company to actually do something about it—it’s a challenge,” she says. “Learning what’s causing us to lose business helps us with current marketing tests and bigger-picture things, whether it’s customers being afraid of ordering online or not being able to see the kinds of color swatches they wanted.”
IPerceptions offers a free version of its software, which includes unlimited data collection in 32 languages, custom survey questions and the ability to add a custom logo. Its premium version, which costs $399 per month, also includes industry benchmarks, the ability to embed surveys in a web site and create custom thank-you pages for consumers who complete the surveys, custom comment cards for collecting feedback, smartphone and tablet optimization, and phone support. Professional and Enterprise versions with further extensions and dedicated iPerceptions account managers are available by contract, the vendor says.
Blinds.com is No. 219 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide.