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for Crucial Trading
by KIJO

Crucial Trading are a worldwide luxurious floor covering supplier and manufacturer

1.

The Problem

Ecommerce has revolutionised retail in general but the bespoke market has a distinct set of challenges that make it uniquely unsuited to transactional online purchasing. In order for somebody to feel comfortable ordering something that is being made just for them they feel they need to be able to see it, to touch it, before they can take the risk. This was the main issue that Crucial Trading had from the start of the project. Their products were almost too good – too unique – to be sold via oft-impersonal digital channels. How could we make up the difference between their in-store experience and their online offering?

The first thing we had to do was dig into Crucial Trading as a business and as a brand. We needed to intimately understand the core issues they were facing and only then would we be able to come up with a solution. This required stepping into the client’s shoes and seeing firsthand what was working and what wasn’t in their market. 

After deep analysis – sifting through data and analytics, scoping competitors – we identified three core problems that were causing them to lose out on online business.

Low conversion rate of visitors ordering samples
For the amount of people visiting the site there should definitely have been more samples being ordered, especially considering the product was such high quality. This suggested a problem with the end-to-end process.

Poor interaction with website features
The website, despite having its flaws, had several innovative features to inform buyers before making a purchase. One of these was a 3D rug builder, offering prospective customers the opportunity to create their own floor coverings from scratch. Again, despite the relatively high level of traffic flowing through the site, these features were not contributing much in the way of sales.

Un-engaging customer journey
These two issues led us to what we believed was the core problem with the site: visitors were simply not inspired enough to make a purchase. The existing customer journey was doing a bad job of making the products feel real – a big part of bespoke offerings – and, consequently, online sales were floundering.

Visualising online purchases in your home is difficult – especially when the item is made to order. Inspire by Crucial Trading combines web technology, 3D design with Augmented Reality – allowing you to create a beautiful bespoke rug in 3D and then place it onto any floor.
Jordan Thompson
Creative Director
2.

Why are these problems important?

Low conversion rate of visitors ordering samples:

Offering samples to potential customers is a fantastic way of adding a hands-on experience to the digital journey. Some products have to be experienced in person before people are comfortable enough to buy (this may change sometime in the future). In some markets tactile sensation and the visceral feeling of holding and owning something is paramount to the sale. Crucial Trading, being part of the premium and luxury bespoke market, knew this well. Therefore it was indicative to us when we saw how low their sample to full purchase conversion rate was. We knew that if we could only persuade more people to order a sample then sales volume would increase accordingly.

Poor interaction with website features:

The low level of conversions directly linked to the innovative features of the website made us dig a little deeper into the reasoning behind it. The 3D builder, which we mentioned previously, was used predominantly to create rugs. Rugs, we came to learn, was a huge market for Crucial Trading. In many instances rugs were the first purchases made by a customer and the first interaction they had with the bespoke materials of Crucial’s products. Rug orders were also strongly linked with the low sample conversion rate we had analysed previously, which made us see an opportunity for a “quick” win that could almost immediately increase overall sales.

Un-engaging customer journey:

Selling bespoke products digitally is difficult enough without having a weak customer experience. Almost straight away we could see the site was limited in how it immersed the user. Apart from a few features it was relatively un-engaging for what should be an experiential sales process. If only we could wave our web design magic wand and make the journey inspiring then we knew we would increase sales too. Knowing the problem clearly gave us a lot to work with going forward into the planning stage.

3.

How did we identify the problems?

Talking to the client:

In any agency – client relationship, clear communication is key to ultimate success. By holding a series of meetings and interviews with key members of the client team we were able to identify core issues and historical problems that had never been solved. As a result we gained a far greater understanding of their business and their industry and felt we had a good handle on where our time would be best placed once the real work began.

Our process for these interviews was simple and one that anybody can use to learn more about their client. We simply asked those present to write down the ten most important things that they believed would have the largest positive effect on their business. After some back and forth we had a clear list of priorities for us to work on straight away. This gave us immediate focus. When we narrowed this list of ten down to three central KPIs we were like a laser eradicating problems. We don’t believe in paralysis by analysis. We wanted to get to the root of the issue and to solve it as quickly as possible.

Understanding user metrics and testing assumptions:

Once we understood the needs of the client from their perspective it was time to turn our focus to what the data said. Our next step was to understand on a deep level the issues potential customers were facing when they were interacting with the website, via analytics and other key metrics that determine online success. In this instance we focused specifically on the popularity of core pages and the engagement with website content. It was important for us to know what was connecting with the user base and what was not before beginning to experiment.

Data is king at this stage. Both historical data and real-time data. By using a combination of screen recording and heat mapping technology we were able to observe hundreds of user sessions. These were genuine users who were interacting with the website and the rug builder before deciding whether to make a purchase. This was a goldmine of discovery; not just for what worked well but also for gaining insight into the key pain points that were causing customers to withdraw without buying.

4.

Research & Discovery

Along with collecting firsthand data from hundreds of online visitors we also deep dived into the more mundane – yet critical – aspects of website performance. These provided us a foundation from which to begin and included:

Website performance study

From systematically working through the website and understanding its core user base we identified areas where performance was suboptimal. There were clear navigational issues that made finding information a chore, slowing customers down and effectively killing their desire to buy before they reached the basket stage. Also the slider of “collections” being used on the homepage as a main feature was receiving extremely low levels of engagement, making it clear to us that either the imagery or the functionality itself did not connect with the target market.

User journey exploration

After gaining a birds-eye view of overall web performance we delved into the user journey. What we found was not encouraging. There were far too many clicks (4 on average) between the homepage and a product page. And, even worse, once you had managed to navigate to the product materials there was no clear goal or indication of where to go next. The stages to purchase were muddled and this was reflected in the homepage, which failed to align with its more influential features and almost seemed to work against making sales by making action points harder than they needed to be.

Weak point analysis

On any website where people are leaving before making a purchase it is important to understand the key drop off points. In the case of Crucial Trading there were more than usual but, in order to have the most benefit as quickly as possible, we focused on the main areas that were responsible for 80% of potential lost sales.

The main culprit, by far, was the homepage, which was to blame for a huge 75% of people bouncing from the site. There was also an unnecessary start page before the rug builder loaded that added a layer of complexity and contributed to abandonment. Lastly – as a final red flag – we found the contact us page actually performed well. This suggested to us that the website wasn’t good enough and people were seeking out alternative methods of contact. This indicated something interesting: great product, bad journey. We knew what we had to do.

5.

Strategy

After identifying the key problems as clearly as possible and defining our KPIs for the project we felt we had a solid launching pad to start generating some ideas. Our strategy consisted of 4 core areas, each of which mapped to our pre-agreed key performance indicators. By working on these areas and delivering what we promised we were confident our KPIs would be met too.

Navigation & User Journey

As mentioned previously, there was a massive 4 clicks between homepage and product page, which was contributing significantly to user drop offs. In this day and age we knew this was too long-winded for a sleek customer journey so we planned a total redesign of the site navigation, prioritising direct access to material and product pages. To do this we would create a brand new mega menu, which would allow access to all categories straight from the main navigation.

Previous Flow
New Flow

Homepage Layout & Design

The homepage was causing a lot of the problems on site and the main reason was its design. Many of its features had shifted away from the original brand aesthetic. The header slider, especially, which was linking out to unpopular product collections, was adding huge numbers to the bounce rate. As a first step to solving this problem we created several wireframe variations of the homepage header, finally settling on a design that focused not on complete collections but on the materials of the products on offer. From the data we analysed we knew the materials were one of the main draws for users. By exploiting this – via new visual and written content – we could see a quick uplift.

Once we were happy that the content aligned with brand goals and the general direction for the business we started looking at the homepage hierarchy. The current order of the sections was giving priority to areas that were perhaps not as important as others, in effect contributing to a confusing customer journey that was working against prospective purchases. We knew from experience that a more tightly focused design would funnel users to the correct places with no loss of choice. This way people would find the information they needed and the business had its best chance of a sale.

homepage-image-5.jpg

Rug Builder Technology Stack & User Interface

From the beginning we knew the 3D rug builder would be an important selling tool for Crucial Trading. During the discovery stage we noted with interest that users often utilised the builder in different ways, often varying from session to session. This was good news. The issue was that many of these users struggled to understand the step they were meant to take next, once the rug was built. The call to action was not clear. Seeing all of this we understood that the builder was fundamentally a good tool – what we had to do was simply streamline the process from on-boarding to basket. After researching the current flow of actions that was required of a user we mapped out some improvements to implement and test.

Our testing was internal to begin with. We then sought out real users to find out which flow yielded the greatest conversion rates. Once we had a clear winner in this category we looked at how the builder integrated with the website as a whole. The brutal answer was that it didn’t. There was no clear navigational cues as to what it was, it possessed no header or footer, and there was an unnecessary splash page that only added to the amount of clicks. After removing this page and adding navigation and footer elements the overall feel of the site was greatly improved.

Previous Rug Build Flow
New Rug Build Flow

Inspiring Customer Experience

Despite all the technical aspects of our job we knew our main focus was to delight potential customers and inspire them to take action. This meant educating them and guiding them towards the right purchasing decisions. As an abstract challenge this was the biggest one of them all and required a lot of stepping into the customer’s shoes to understand things from their perspective.

As Crucial Trading specialised in bespoke, unique pieces that were statements for the customer we needed to find a way to make the website more experiential. We didn’t want the success of the online store to be dependent on a brick-and-mortar location or the ordering of samples. We felt that new technology could provide an immersive experience without the customer setting a foot outside of their door.

In deciding how to make the site more of a “moment” we initially landed on virtual reality as a way to make it more experiential. With headsets and different equipment all entering the marketplace – at various price points – we felt this could be a good place to start and an advantage for Crucial as these technologies grow in the near future. However, after running some tests, we decided that ordinary people were not yet adequately set up for VR shopping and that the roll out would likely flop this early in the game.

We didn’t give up. After our experiments with VR came up negative we turned our attention to augmented reality, or AR. Whilst still relatively new in the mass marketplace AR is officially supported by both Apple iOS ARKit and Google’s Android ARCore, meaning that almost everybody on the planet has immediate access to this sort of technology. By utilising AR we could virtually “place” Crucial’s products into the living rooms and dining rooms of potential clients, giving them a powerful experience – something they would not get elsewhere – and added value without requiring anything in the way of extra investment.

6.

Solutions

Now that we had our strategy in place, our KPIs set, and the team raring to go it was time to execute our plan and deliver results. This is how we did it.

Navigation

As per our initial plan, the main navigation was completely rebuilt. After some discussion we decided to retain the slide out menu as the design was unique and we felt it still aligned with the visual direction of the brand. However, its functionality was relegated to additional actions only, rather than the entire navigation. In order to limit confusion on the part of the customer the main navigation now only highlighted the very core goals of the website. The key areas – namely the materials pages and the rug builder – were now given highest priority in the navigational hierarchy. To encourage engagement we made them accessible on all pages of the website.

The material section of the site was redesigned with a new drop down mega menu, providing access to all of the most popular materials and sub-categories. Hovering over each category also reveals a zoomed-in, high resolution image of the actual material, allowing users to visually experience the product without having to click on the page. In line with business goals, the catalogue of materials could now be accessed from anywhere on the site with one click.

This allows you to access the new megamenu, created to access the products with less clicks.
This quick link will take you to the 3D rug builder. Previously this was hidden in a burger menu.
This icon allows the user to access the full screen auto complete search function.
Play Video

Homepage

Crucial was in possession of fantastic visual assets and we wanted to make sure this photography was given centre stage in all of the right places. To counteract the poor performance of the homepage header on the original design we created a completely new one, showcasing different materials on each new page load and allowing users to see different images by hovering over different material icons.

Further down the homepage we create a sense of flow by continuing the combination of material and stunning photography. In order to facilitate engagement with the important material pages we created brand-new visual cards that linked out to the top level material types in the navigation.

We also wanted to highlight the 3D builder, which was a key selling feature. We did this by creating autoplay video sections, engaging the user with fantastic imagery that cycles through different combinations of product.

3D Rug Builder

We knew that the UI of the rug builder would be paramount to success so we rebuilt it to consist of a contextual materials selector, a preview window of product details, and a selections sidebar which made it easy for the user to play with different variations of the rugs before moving on. A 3D model of the rug, showing both realistic lighting and layered with actual samples of raw materials, not rendering, offered a satisfying payoff and maximum realism.

From a technology standpoint the builder was rebuilt from the ground up with two things in mind: speed and engagement. After the redesign it now loads over 5 times faster than its previous iteration, due largely to an optimised codebase using ReactJS, optimised assets and a new caching process which stores all of the data for each material for quicker retrieval.

This panel allows you to see a zoomed in detail shot of the rug designed this is pinned to the corner of the rug regardless of the angle you’ve chosen.
This new material selector gives you a preview of the material on hover, including a randomise button for those who just can’t decide
The new selections side bar allows you to see what you’ve selected and remove individual materials or edit the size and border quickly.

Augmented Reality App

In order to achieve maximum immersion we opted to utilise augmented reality within a native platform. This made it easy to place the rug on any floor and allows the customer to visualise the product within their actual environment. Using ARKit on iOS, once you have located the ideal surface you can access all of the rugs you have built in your Crucial Trading account, resize it, and then “lock” it in place. Even when you move around your home the rug stays in the position you choose – as if it was real. You can also share your new creation with friends and family, adding social proof to any purchasing decisions.

Inspire is unique in that it allows you to create a bespoke rug and then place it on any floor in your house within minutes. This is different (and superior) to other offerings on the market, where you can only choose from a fixed product range and the ability of the AR is limited. This synergy between the 3D rug builder and the AR app was the real jewel in the crown of the project and allowed us to realise our vision of a truly next level experience.

Play Video
7.

Results

On any project we undertake we want the finished product to look great and perform even better. After all, we are judged on the results we deliver after the creative process is done. Did we succeed? Take a look for yourself:

Rug Orders
988%
Increase in rug orders
Total Orders
7.8%
Increase in total sample orders
Total Samples
9.3%
Increase In samples per order
Total Sample Value
10.3%
Increase in value of sample orders
We have really enjoyed working with KIJO over recent years, working together we have managed to push the boundaries of what home furnishing companies can achieve.
Emma Hopkins
Marketing Manager
Comparison of 5 months performance running from October 17 to February 18 and October 18 to February 19
8.

Build The Future

All of the KIJO team were delighted with the results Crucial Trading enjoyed after we completed this project. One of the greatest things about being an agency is that you get to see clients succeed with work that you have done, and you can take an honest pride in that.

With that said, like any successful team, we are always looking to improve and enhance what we have already achieved. Our motto is Build the Future and when we begin working with a client we always look at the long-term. What else can we do? How can we make this better?

Here is a taste of some of the future solutions we are planning to implement for Crucial Trading:

Android Support

At the moment the Inspire AR app is iOS only. We did this so that we would be able to launch it quickly but now that the initial project is finished we want to develop a version that supports Android via ARCore. We also plan to increase the user base of the app by using app install advertisements on search and social channels.

Rug Builder Widget

The 3D rug builder is a great tool and has a much wider application than just a website feature. We are now planning to implement it on third party websites – such as trusted retail partners – exponentially increasing its reach and, consequently, the exposure of Crucial’s top products to prospective new users.

Organic Search

After analysing the presence of Crucial Trading on the top search engines we have identified an opportunity to significantly increase traffic via organic search. This is a potentially huge growth area for Crucial and, using our experience and expertise in SEO, we have ambitious targets to increase the amount of organic traffic to the website by as much as 50%.