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Q&A: How Article sells the experience of furniture to an online customer

Article is a DTC company that sells a range of furniture products from sofas to outdoor to decor pieces. Insider Intelligence spoke with Duncan Blair, SVP of Marketing, Support and Sales, about best strategies to convey to customers the “feel” of products and shoppable video.

Insider Intelligence: How do you convey the experience and feel of furniture products to customers online?

Duncan Blair: A lot of consumers’ default desire is to want to sit on a sofa, but we like to turn it around and ask, “What are the things that we can do online that you can't do in store?” One thing that we work really hard on is showing off user-generated content, in particular photography. Photos from our customers showing our products in their spaces gives customers a sense of the variety of styles that the product suits.

Our reviews are another piece of user-generated content that we work really hard on. Some of our products have more than 2,000 reviews. We treat that review system really carefully and make sure that we are collecting honest feedback from customers.

The third thing is investing in our 40-person in-house creative team. Our studio is constantly trying to think about how to capture details of products to make sure that people have a good sense of materiality, dimensions, and all the other things that you look for when you go into a store to pick out furniture.

II: How does video fit into your marketing strategies?

DB: We see video as part of our mix: When you think about how to translate qualities of a furniture piece that you might be looking for from an in-store experience into an online environment, video can help with seeing how products react to just simple things like people sitting on them or jumping on them.

Short-form video (for example, a 10-second video showing off a product feature or a 45-second room transformation video on Instagram) is how we are pushing the medium forward, both on our website and social channels to show off products. You can see a lot of videos of our new outdoor collection with models relaxing or enjoying the furniture because we wanted to show it in use and for people to get a sense of what it would be like to host a dinner party.

The other thing that we've been experimenting with is partnering with influencers and content creators to create the short-form video for us to show off products in use or create more educational content around how you might like to style a certain piece or what it goes with their outfits into a broadest of styling.

II: How is Article different from other ecommerce furniture companies?

DB: The investments that we've made in our own delivery team is an important part of the shopping experience in a way that makes us pretty different from going into a High Street retailer or furniture retailer and having a guy six weeks later in a white truck show up with a sofa in a plastic bag.

We're making a lot of investments in that after-sale piece of our promise. We're one of the few furniture companies that will give you a delivery ETA at the point of purchase before you check out, and we take that promise extremely seriously. It sounds like a really small detail, but particularly in the last two years, consumers have reported horror stories of people waiting two months, which then became six months changing to an 18-month wait all for a sofa.

We also have invested to build out the delivery team in more than 15 major markets across the US and Canada. This means a person in an Article uniform driving an Article truck will show up and deliver your sofa, which means we have the ability to set the terms of how that experience will go versus contracting with a third-party delivery company. They're more or less incentivized to make as many deliveries in a day as possible to make more money.