The major appliance sector continues to experience a global boom – retail sales across the industry reached an eye-watering $240b in 2020. What’s been driving this exponential growth over the last few years? When it comes to rising demand, the impact of the pandemic is impossible to ignore. With people spending more time at home than ever before and cutting back on spending due to factors such as limits on travel and socializing, many started looking to spend their disposable income on house improvements, to provide a more comfortable and luxurious home environment (learn more about how the pandemic has impacted the major appliances market, here) .
This continues to present a huge opportunity for retailers in the major home appliance space to increase sales, upsell and cross-sell to consumers. Those that have caught on have doubled down on digital – shifting their focus toward optimizing the product pages on their websites, with a special focus on adapting their outputs for an omnichannel experience.
The way that retailers showcase white goods online is influenced by many factors – from the channel being used to distribute the goods, to the customer journey stage and even the brand’s image. On owned commercial sites, every aspect from page format, content structure, and layout to the colors, language, and tone of voice can be considered carefully to portray the right image and capture the intended audience. If the product is being shown via a social platform such as Instagram, eye-catching features may be communicated in formats such as infomercial style videos or influencer-led showcases), as opposed to the more static, attribute-focused listings found on marketplace platforms, intended to allow better product comparison.
In this article, we’re going to be taking a deep dive into how some of the major industry players are presenting their products online across multiple channels and platforms and analyzing how they’ve used certain techniques and trends to further capture audiences.
Link to this article once live: How Has The Pandemic Impacted Import of Major Appliances?
When it comes to product pages in the major appliances sector, there’s an ever-expanding range of tools and techniques that retailers can leverage to stand out from the competition. Household brands are utilizing innovative technology to not only drive sales but also provide an improved and frictionless customer experience, to encourage greater purchasing confidence and fewer returns from customers.
Some of the technologies that big-name brands are using to enhance their PDPs include:
Swedish-founded furniture and major appliance retailer, IKEA, has developed an in-house app called ‘IKEA Place’ that uses augmented reality (AR) technology to enable customers to view furniture and other major appliances in their home setting, from the comfort of their sofas. Consumers simply use the AR app to scan the room to collect all the dimensions, and then they select a product from the retailer’s catalog and the app shows the buyer how and where the item would fit in the scanned room and what it will look like – with a 98% accuracy rate. The simple app design facilitates smooth and easy navigation via an interactive space while engaging consumers. The use of this technology has facilitated greater purchase confidence and fewer returns from buyers for IKEA.
Another valuable tool that white goods retailers are increasingly placing on their product pages for consumers to leverage is 3D planning technology. Brands including Pottery Barn and Wayfair are leveraging easy and intuitive 3D planning solutions to enable users to design their dream homes. Customers create floor plans in 2D and browse their chosen brand to furnish the home in 3D. Available via desktop and mobile apps, customers can create designs on the go and even produce like-like 3D renders and HD imagery, providing a truly immersive visual experience.
For retailers targeting consumers who prefer to browse products in the comfort of their own homes but find the lack of ‘virtuality’ that 3D planning solutions and renders offer a barrier to completing a purchase, digital showrooms are ideal. Virtual showrooms are a great alternative for retailers that want to motivate conversions while allowing customers to see product ranges in near real life. Alongside its new range of appliances, multinational corporation, Sharp, launched its own virtual showroom in December of 2021. The tool demonstrates the retailer’s range of appliances and allows users to move around the kitchen and interact with products virtually, including opening appliances to view the interiors, as well as an interactive feature that provides specification details virtualized alongside each product.
AI technology has progressed leaps and bounds over the last 5 years and retailers and taking advantage of its improvements. For example, online furniture and appliance retailer, Wayfair, is using machine learning technology to decipher which products complement each other and then recommend them to its customers. This ensures the brand only recommends relevant products as the intelligent algorithm uses historical data to provide a hyper-personalized experience to the Wayfair customer base.
Radio was top of the advertising list for many international brands and marketplaces 10-15 years ago – they were a great way to reach consumers on a regional and national level. Now? They virtually don’t exist anymore, especially within the major appliances sector. Online advertising quickly took over soon after the dot come boom and now, video is set to do the same.
The video format has given the white goods industry the chance to provide a variety of helpful tips and tricks, ‘how-to’ guides, measurement, and installation guides, and more, to consumers. This has all been made possible and available in an easily digestible and engaging way thanks to video, and the majority of retailers are now placing product, sales, and marketing videos on their online product pages.
But there’s no reason to stop there. Although we’re yet to see major appliance retailers leverage this specific technology for video, brands that want to evoke a real wow factor reaction to their products could use first-person view (FPV) drones to create awe-inspiring product videos like those that have been used by the automotive and housing industries. FPV drones could be used to launch new products or film appliances in operation to provide a new level of quality videos that will undoubtedly encourage customers to purchase.
However, note that the key here is length. To remain engaging and encourage the ‘stickiness’ factor’ product marketing videos should be under a minute.
The type of information included on product pages differs from industry to industry. For those in the major appliances sector, this then differentiates even further depending on the actual product on the page.
Standard information that all major appliance retailers should include on their fridge freezer, dishwasher, and washing machine product pages, for example, include things such as brand and model, measurements/ dimensions, load capacity, technical compatibilities like Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity, or including information such as if the appliance can be controlled via an app, available colors and ECP rating. All this information provides the consumer with the majority of what they need to know to complete a purchase. Of course, this depends on the individual consumer, some will inevitably seek additional information, resources, or research to instill a greater level of confidence to buy.
But how are retailers delivering this information? While some have opted to keep it simple and have the relevant product information laid out in a single list, some have taken an alternative approach. Best Buy, for example, has included collapsible sections on each of its product pages such as ‘What’s included’ and ‘Customer reviews’. This ensures that all the information a consumer needs or wants is available but it’s easier to find depending on what category of information that consumer is looking for. The result? A smoother customer experience and a quicker purchase cycle.
Alongside this standard product information, many major appliance retailers like Home Depot are implementing urgency creator tactics on their product pages. For example, a retailer may include ‘limited stock available’ or ‘buy now while stocks last’ tags on certain products. This is often down to two reasons, either the product is indeed selling out fast and stock levels are low or, the retailer has failed to sell the product stock and is now creating a false sense of urgency to help encourage consumers to purchase it. And these tactics work, according to research, urgency is a prominent psychological technique that compels people to act straight away.
Additional information sections such as delivery, installation, warranty, FAQs, and the return policy should also be included as standard on product pages. For retailers that want to go the extra mile, provide customers with peace of mind, and encourage a greater level of purchasing confidence, including information such as customer reviews and trust badges are ideal. Offering unbiased and unaltered product reviews are a great way for retailers to make potential customers feel more confident with their product choices. The more reviews a retailer shows, the more convinced a shopper will be that they’re making the right purchase decision. Also, for major appliance retailers looking to increase their online presence, reviews are a great way to achieve this goal.
Something else that retailers – or more specifically – marketplace platforms have only really started doing in the last 5+ years is comparisons. This is where a retailer not only provides a consumer with the means to compare prices of the same product across channels but also different versions or models of the same products. The retailer will then often divulge what is and isn’t included with each product, whether that’s technical capabilities, size, ease of use, or something else. This helps to install greater trust and honesty in the brand from a consumer perspective, as they are in a sense, putting all their cards on the table in plain sight.
We’ve all been browsing a brand’s online catalog and noticed a small scroll bar at the bottom of a product page with the words ‘if you like this, we think you’ll love this’ or, ‘those who bought this, often bought this’ and sometimes, ‘frequently bought together’. Major appliance websites are no different.
These messages are a great cross-selling technique that helps to keep not only existing customers but also entice potential ones too on a retailer’s website. Many major appliance brands and marketplace platforms are leveraging these tactics to their advantage to increase cross-selling across product ranges and categories, while also providing a more personalized experience to customers.
Some brands uniquely use cross-selling techniques. For example, if you go to the laundry appliance section of Whirlpool’s website before you even click on whether you’re looking for a washer or dryer, the brand cross-sells washer and dryer sets. The brand’s message behind this tactic is that it enables customers to do laundry their way via a paired load and go system. This is an interesting selling technique from Whirlpool as it encourages additional purchases before a consumer even clicks on a product category.
Alongside the cross-selling techniques, is the upsell. Most major appliance retailers we found utilize upsell techniques on products in the low to mid-weight range. Messaging and offers such as ‘upgrade to [product] by [date] for [%] off’ are very common and provide retailers with the means to encourage consumers to purchase a model higher than they were perhaps considering. This means more money for retailers and a better product for the consumer.
‘Complete the set’ type offers are also popular amongst retailers and consumers. The level of customization that major appliance brands now offer to consumers is far more than it used to be. Gone are the days of the ‘white’ goods, consumers can now often choose from a range of colors, energy sources, and power options. This increase in options has resulted in consumers now expecting to be able to purchase matching sets from a brand for greater uniformity in their homes.
All these types of offers and suggestions are offered based on data from personal preference, previous purchases, and items that consumers have often bought at the same time.
All consumers have their personal preferences when it comes to how they make online white goods purchases. Regardless of whether a consumer wants to browse or reserve an item online and then pick it up in-store, browse in-store and complete a purchase online, or purchase a product on a social media platform, major appliance retailers must be prepared to cater to each possible variation of the purchasing journey.
Having a concrete omnichannel strategy at the helm is critical for retailers to target consumers on whichever platform they prefer and at any touchpoint. For consumers that prefer to spend more time browsing social media platforms such as Instagram, and less time perusing the aisles of Best Buy, personalized and targeted ads on social channels are a great way for retailers to reach them more effectively. This personalized approach also helps to improve brand awareness and loyalty as consumers are experiencing more familiarity with the brand as it’s appearing on their preferred shopping channels.
Many major appliance retailers have now also developed their own apps. We’ve already spoken about the IKEA Place app but it’s just one example of how some retailers are expanding their omnichannel strategy to provide an even greater level of customer service. Other brands including Amazon also boast easy-to-use apps that allow consumers to make purchases directly on the app. This can come with significant benefits for consumers as they often offer exclusive in-app deals and discounts.
Smooth and simple product page navigation is a must-have for all major appliance retailers.
Easy website navigation is key to keeping customers on-site. Consumers have now come to expect a certain level of quality when browsing major appliance products and services online, and all it takes is one clunky experience or slow-loading webpage to turn off a potential customer and for them to churn to a competitor that provides a better online experience.
One-way retailers are providing an improved experience on their websites is through the use of breadcrumb page navigation. This is a technique that shows a potential customer what page of the site they are on, and the previous pages they clicked to get to where they are now. Each stage of the journey is hyperlinked so customers can always get back to a previous page with a simple click of a button.
Another easy yet effective way that retailers can avoid a negative experience on their website is to ensure fast page loading speeds. Consumers aren’t going to sit and wait for a page to load to convert:
For retailers that are struggling to convert potential buyers into customers due to poor site navigation, getting in an expert team to conduct an audit and analysis of the site and distribution channels to see what’s going wrong and where is a good starting point.
Research shows that content that is supported by relevant photos receives 94% more views than content that isn’t. For major appliance retailers, including images of the products they’re selling online is vital, consumers simply aren’t going to purchase a big-ticket item such as a washing machine or oven without seeing a picture of it first.
After looking at some of the big-name brands in the major appliances space, we’ve noticed that there are a few trends retailers are getting on board with when it comes to the imagery, they are using on their product pages. For the most part, most retailers are using big clear images with no background noise to market their products. However, these simple images are merely used to entice the consumer.
In line with the virtual showroom, 3D planning solutions, and AR technology trends we covered earlier, more and more consumers are looking for imagery where the product is placed in the home setting. Some retailers are providing these images in support of the simpler product shots, and some are using them front and center. We’ll use IKEA as another great example here, the brand doesn’t only set up complete rooms in-store, but they do so online too to show appliances in a home setting.
For consumers, the ability to view appliances online in a home environment provides greater familiarity, and it means they can see what the product looks like in a real-life setting, without the need to use a 3D planning solution or download an app – it’s instant gratification. To discover more profitable major appliance trends, look at our blog.
All-in-all, the majority of major appliance retailers across the board are adopting the same tactics and techniques and including a similar level of detail when it comes to the information, they include on their product pages. The biggest differences we found were predominantly regarding the format and structure of content, and the styles used for digital assets like images and video. The styles used here mostly differed between brands that were targeting different buyer personas.
For retailers that want to improve their product information further and get it 100% across all channels, encourage repeat purchases from consumers, and do so whilst providing a superior customer experience, a combined PIM (Product Information Management) and DAM (Digital Asset Management) solution is the key.
ECP offers major appliance retailers just that. Clear Quality Scores provide retailers with content scoring so they can see exactly where content is performing well and where improvements can be made. All product content is also made editable across all distribution channels, so information is always up-to-date and consistent across platforms. Features such as Asset Categorization and Brand Control also enable retailers to ensure assets such as photos and video are always readily available and in order, while also enabling multiple user access so teams can work collaboratively and consistently on assets across channels.