Having just launched its mobile commerce site in January, Furniture Village says that average basket values have already surpassed those of its main website. 

In addition, more than one in five visitors now arrive at the website via a smartphone or tablet. 

You might not expect big ticket items like furniture to appeal to mobile shoppers, so what is behind such impressive stats? 

According to Charlie Harrison, head of e-commerce at Furniture Village:

The mobile website has created a new shopping experience for our customers. It’s not an uncommon sight to see someone sat on the very sofa that they’re looking at on their phone. 

I think these stats reflect the growing use of mobile in the buying process, a process which may move from web to store, with mobile being used as both a research and purchase tool. 

The mobile site is also well-designed and easy to use. For example, the number of clicks between homepage and product pages are kept to a minimum, while useful features such as this filter enable the mobile customer to effectively narrow their product selections: 

In addition, unlike many mobile commerce sites, this does not make registration before checkout compulsory, thus removing a potential barrier to purchase. 

It also provides more evidence of the importance of mobile in offline retail, and how it can be used to enhance the in-store experience for customers. 

I asked Ben Scott-Robinson, creative director at We Love Mobile, who designed the mobile site, a few questions about the stats: 

Why do you think basket sizes would be higher for mobile?  

“Consumers research big ticket purchases more than impulse ones. When it comes to furniture, the level of research sky-rockets. Not only do people start buying interiors magazines, they scour the internet for furniture that fits into their homes.

Mobile websites allow people to conduct these research and comparisons while out and about, when or wherever they feel inspired – in a furniture shop, when a TV or newspaper advert is spotted or when they hear something on the radio.

A mobile site just closes that loop, boosting confidence in purchasedecisions. It also helps that people can buy online while in a store, or a competitor’s store, after viewing a piece of furniture.”

Are people using the mobile site in conjunction with store visits i.e. viewing in store but checking prices/other info on mobile?  

“Absolutely. Often people will research their furniture before they even step foot in store. As stores often only carry sample stock in a single colour or size, consumers are using mobile as a way of getting that extra detail, such as the full range of sizes, colours and fabrics.

With smartphones, the retail environment has a completely new dimension. It’s valuable when a customer is in a competitor’s store, too.”

What, if anything, does Furniture Village do in store to help and encourage mobile site users? 

“After the initial success of the mobile site, Furniture Village is investing in a range of services to provide a seamless user experience that links in-store and mobile in 2012.

We are working with them to create pragmatic aids that streamline the discovery and purchase process across all touch-points and you’ll hear more about this over the next few months.”