DFS Group Increases Online Store Conversion Rate by 9.8% Using ViSenze AI Technology

Executive Summary

United Kingdom (UK)-based furniture retail company DFS Group (DFS) worked alongside AWS Retail Competency Partner and artificial intelligence (AI) technology provider ViSenze to improve customer engagement on its online store using AI. DFS is the largest furniture manufacturer and retailer in the UK. When its customers started combining furniture from multiple collections, the company had to revamp its recommendations. DFS worked with ViSenze to build an AI-powered recommendations solution that shows similar items based on products’ physical characteristics. It has increased conversion rates by 9.8 percent and achieved a 6.3 percent higher average order value while reducing its bounce rate.

Working to Improve Customer Engagement Using AI and AWS

When UK-based furniture retail company DFS recognized that customers were starting to combine furniture styles instead of buying from a single collection, it saw an opportunity to turn that behavior into more sales. But to do it, the company would need to rethink its product recommendations. DFS turned to the AI technology from Amazon Web Services (AWS) Retail Competency Partner ViSenze, a leading AI solution provider for retailers and brands, to create a solution that provides smart suggestions on its online store.

DFS had already worked with ViSenze on experiments with a visual search feature for its furniture—a critical aspect of enhancing product discovery on the DFS online store. The work gave the two companies a strong foundation on which to build new product recommendations. Working with ViSenze, DFS implemented a “You May Also Like” widget for each product detail page that recommends similar items based on color, style, and other characteristics. By embracing AI technology in the cloud, DFS has improved conversion rates and created a more intuitive customer journey on its website.

“We felt that recommendations based on physical attributes and aesthetics would be important to help customers navigate our broad catalog right from the product page.”

- James Vernon, Head of Online, DFS Group

Enhancing the Shopping Experience With AI-Powered Recommendations

Sofa retail specialist DFS has sold sofas and other furniture in the UK and internationally for more than 50 years. DFS was undergoing a digital transformation to improve its online shopping experience and overall digital presence. As part of this effort, the company wanted to enhance its product detail pages by displaying better recommendations for related products.

Previously, DFS showed a selection of products that was limited to the same range as the product that the customer was viewing. However, DFS found that many customers wanted to mix products from different ranges and styles. Because the company’s suggestions were limited, some customers would leave the website without making a purchase. Even when customers stayed, they had to navigate back to the product list or search results after viewing an item and browse through the extensive catalog. DFS needed to improve its recommendations to reduce its bounce rate and enhance the overall shopping experience for the customer. “We felt that recommendations based on physical attributes and aesthetics would be important to help customers navigate our broad catalog right from the product page,” says James Vernon, head of online for DFS. That meant building a new, more dynamic recommendation tool that could show a customer similar items based on the current product’s color, size, style, and other characteristics.

To achieve this, DFS turned to ViSenze for its AI expertise. ViSenze provides technology that uses computer vision and machine learning to shorten customers’ paths from discovery to purchase. “ViSenze is very flexible and responsive,” says Vernon. “We have a great working relationship with the ViSenze team.” The company procured ViSenze’s solution on AWS Marketplace, a curated digital catalog that companies can use to find, test, buy, and deploy software that runs on AWS with ease. Because of the companies’ existing relationship, DFS knew it could develop ideas, carry out trials, and iterate quickly on the solution with ViSenze.

Throughout the development of the new solution, DFS’s front-end developer worked with the development team at ViSenze on both design and configuration details. “Our developers worked closely with the DFS team to configure the solution exactly to their requirements,” says Ross Gillanders, ViSenze’s business head of Europe, Middle East, and Africa. “We continuously tweaked it to make sure DFS got the best results.” The two companies worked together to configure the solution so that its recommendations would be dynamic and relevant to the current item based on its price, color, and other characteristics. These custom rules can also present suggestions based on specific price thresholds and avoid repeating recommendations. Using AI, DFS can show customers a wider variety of products and increase their chances of finding something to suit their preferences and needs. DFS and ViSenze developed and tested the proof of concept over 3 months. When the solution was ready for the live website in September 2021, the implementation was simple; DFS needed to add only 12 lines of code on its product pages.

Boosting Conversion Rates by Engaging Customers with Personalized Recommendations

The ViSenze solution has proven successful—its improved product suggestions have quickly increased conversion rates by 9.8 percent and received high interaction from shoppers. “With the new AI solution in place, our website engagement is significantly higher,” says Vernon. “By making it easier for customers to find products, we encourage them to spend more time exploring our catalog.” Presenting a variety of similar but distinct items on the customer’s current product page helps reduce the bounce rate by 3 percent and drives customers to more purchases on the DFS website. Better recommendations have also increased revenue; DFS has seen a 6.3 percent improvement in average order value after implementing the ViSenze solution.

Better recommendations help customers navigate the website more quickly, saving them time and leading to a more enjoyable shopping experience. Intelligent suggestions significantly reduce the need for the customer to navigate an expansive catalog of furniture. “ViSenze has improved the experience for our customers,” says Vernon. “It has also saved our teams from spending many hours manually curating a journey across our broad catalog.” The recommendations solution is a key part of DFS’s efforts to make its online store more engaging using visuals. “The retail furniture industry is competitive,” says Vernon. “With ViSenze, we can put imagery at the heart of what we do and rise above the competition.”

“By making it easier for customers to find products, we encourage them to spend more time exploring our catalog.”

- James Vernon, Head of Online, DFS Group

Building a Smart Visual Shopping Experience Using AI

After the success of the recommendations solution, DFS plans to continue innovating with ViSenze. The company plans to continue focusing on its visual experience: it is considering integrating ViSenze’s visual AI technology with a popular online pinboard and social media service. “By putting images at the heart of the customer experience, we’re greatly improving the customer journey,” says Vernon. “We can achieve these smart visual recommendations with ViSenze.”

DFS Group

About DFS Group

DFS Group is a leading sofa retail specialist in the United Kingdom. Its portfolio includes Sofology, Dwell, and DFS, the country’s largest furniture manufacturer and retailer. Since 1969, the company has manufactured and sold high-quality sofas and other furniture.

About ViSenze

ViSenze is a leading visual AI solution provider for over 900 retailers and brands around the world. Since 2012, the company, an AWS Partner, has enhanced product delivery and shortened conversion paths for clients.

Published December 2021