The home furnishings retailer redesigned and relaunched its ecommerce site after extensive consumer research. As a result, shoppers who use its new live chat functions are nine times more likely to make an online purchase compared with those who don’t.

Design Within Reach, which sells home furnishings and home goods, relaunched its ecommerce site with enhanced features in mid-July.

“We wanted to create the best online experience in our industry,” says Ben Groom, chief digital officer at home furnishings retailer Herman Miller Inc., which owns Design Within Reach along with eight other retail brands. Herman Miller is No. 425 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000.

To accomplish this goal, the retailer worked with design firm Basic for the design while technology consulting firm Capgemini worked on implementation, he says. Design Within Reach also conducted 110 hours of customer research, in-depth feedback and user testing with more than 200 participants. The retailer did not disclose the cost of the redesign.

“Based on this research, we were able to rank the features that were most desired by our customers and these were the features we prioritized in the design,” Groom says.

A gif of the Shop By Room example, showing how consumers can click to find the products in the image.

A shopper can click on the shopping bag icon to be taken to the product detail pages of the items in the photo.


Incorporating consumer feedback, Design Within Reach made it easier for shoppers to find products. Groom says shoppers browsing often would tell the retailer, “I love this photo, but I can’t find the products that are in it.” Now, its lifestyle photos on the site have a “view products” or “shop the room” feature that links the shoppers directly to the product detail pages (PDPs) for those products. This option was not available before the redesign.

An example of the filtering options available on

An example of the filtering options available on

The retailer also added more detailed filtering on its site. For example, consumers can now search for a “pink, in-stock, family friendly sofa.” It wanted to create a configuration experience that separated out “ready-to-ship” items from “customized” items and landed on a “stair-stepped” design approach that made each product attribute easier to navigate, Groom says. As part of this stair-stepped approach, other product tags, including DWR-exclusive products, new arrivals, color, price, and designer/brand were added to create a seamless and efficient shopping experience, he says, without delving into the technical details.

On its PDPs, Design Within Reach added more content, such as videos, more product photos, design details, and more detailed product information. “These are often highly emotional or considered purchases, so we have created richer PDPs with much more content—both visual and written—to help bridge the gap between the showroom and the digital shopping experience,” Groom says.


Additional new features include responsive design to easily go from desktop to the mobile web by using one code that adapts to each device size. It also added wish-list functionality and updated its customer assistance, such as adding live chat and video chat that allows shoppers to connect with a design specialist. Previously, it did not have this customer service feature and its site was not as mobile-friendly.

Despite the state of the world with COVID-19, Design Within Reach had already planned to create a better customer service system. “It was vital for Design Within Reach to aid and assist with customer needs on a more personal level and on-demand, whether that be in response to simple product-related questions or aiding in designing whole rooms with three-dimensional renderings,” Groom says.

Since adding this feature, Design Within Reach says customers who use the chat functions are nine times more likely to make an online purchase compared with those who don’t. Plus, shoppers who use chat have an average order value of about 25% higher, Groom says.

“The new site not only bridges the gap between the showroom and ecommerce experiences, it also does an excellent job of sharing who we are as a company and what’s important to us,” he says.


The relaunched site is still new, so it is too early for the retailer to share more results. “But we can say that it is performing well ahead of expectations at this stage,” Groom says. “We are seeing improvement in many areas, but what I am most proud of are the increases we are seeing in customer engagement, which was a key focus for us.”

Design Within Reach plans to continue to update and evolve, including some “major” releases later this year, including product launches, more virtual sales tools and operational tweaks, Groom says without revealing more.