Sur La Table is using its website to help shoppers better visualize a new kitchen table

March 18, 2015 01:56 PM

There’s more than one way to set a table, and Sur La Table wants to make sure consumers can see color, style and shape options for plates, bowls, flatware, napkins and more when visiting the specialty retailer’s website, says Kevin Ertell, senior vice president of digital.

“Dishware is hard to get people to relate to,” so Sur La Table in the summer will be adding a feature called “Mix and Match” on its website, Ertell said Wednesday when he spoke at the IRCE Focus: Digital Design conference in Los Angeles about the importance of designing a website to be the hub of the brand. The “Mix and Match” tool, based on the Fluid Configure customization platform, will let consumers change features of a table setting and design it on the screen, with an “add to cart” button that will select those products, he said.

The customization feature will join other website changes the retailer has adopted, including the use of TurnTo, a vendor of ratings, reviews and Q&A technology that Sur La Table changed to in July, for a platform that lets shoppers pose and answer questions about products.

Sur La Table, No. 303 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, is regularly testing ways to better leverage its website to expand the brand’s reach and drive sales online and in stores. It has 222 tests running now, Ertell said. One recent test examined the size of the type for prices on the website, and the company discovered that making the numbers bigger on the site resulted in a quick 5% lift in conversions, he said.

Ertell says Sur La Table’s research shows that while a majority of the retailer’s customers say their preferred method of shopping is to visit a store, data shows traffic to the website dwarfs traffic to all physical stores combined. “More people experience the brand online than at the store. We’re a U.S.-only brand but we have visitors from more than 230 countries,” he said. “We can use and show (a product) several ways online that we can’t do in our stores.”

Sur La Table also will add a recipe database to the website. “We asked our shoppers if they were interested in our database or recipes, and 78% of respondents said yes, so we’re going to start delivering on that,” Ertell said, though he did not provide a date. As with registration for cooking classes, which is done online but the classes are in-store, recipes give consumers one more reason to come back and help keep the brand top of mind, he said.

“We’re excited about what we can do on the community front,” he said. “The site as the hub of the brand doesn’t have to be expensive, and the principles apply to all devices.”




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