Consumer Psychology in Optimisation: What Works for Furniture and Home Furnishing Brands

Namitha Varma Rajesh

In our previous post, we spoke about the consumer psychology principles that work for clothing and fashion brands. The way customers of these businesses behave and what they want from an eCommerce site is quite different from the customers of furniture and home interior and décor products.

Furniture and home interiors are usually considered purchases, one that users spend a lot of time on. For these products, users tend to research about everything from brand and products to price, delivery time, and assembly. Which is unlike fashion, where many impulse purchases are made.

Therefore, a furnishing buyer is in a different mindspace and needs different motivation and persuasion techniques than a fashion buyer.

In this second post of our Consumer Psychology in Optimisation series, we talk about the psychological principles that have helped furniture and home interiors brands, based on our 6 years of data and experience in customer experience optimisation.

Here are 5 psychological principles that have worked best for home furnishing brands:

1.      WYSIATI

What You See Is All There Is, or WYSIATI, is a cognitive bias in which our brain makes a decision or takes an action based on what’s in front of it, ignoring things that are not immediately visible.

So users on your website decide to complete an action based just on what they can see on the page, without trying to look for further information that will help them complete that action.

This means that if all important information regarding a product, delivery, guarantees, etc. are not presented where the user can see them easily, they can drop off without completing a transaction.

Where to Use WYSIATI

We have successfully used WYSIATI in our experiments on the following pages for home interior brands:

  • Checkout
  • PLP and Category pages
  • PDP
  • Basket
  • Sitewide

Of these, we’ve made sure relevant information was visible to users at Checkout more than on any other page. This could be because factors such as delivery time, free delivery, complementary products, and value for money of the product are more important when buying furniture and home décor products.

When to Use WYSIATI

For furnishing brands, giving all relevant and useful information is important when there are challenges such as:

  • Users are not sure about delivery—how long would it take, whether there are additional charges for delivery, whether the item would be delivered at a time convenient to them, etc.
  • You have product warranties and guarantees that come at an additional cost but users are either not aware of them or are not sure how they help.
  • Users display a tendency to change their mind about the purchase midway (it’d be good to remind them what they’re buying at every stage after a product is added to cart).
  • You want to upsell or cross-sell products that go well with what a user has chosen.
  • Users are missing filters, controls, and other functionalities on a page.

We have seen 61% of the experiments conducted using WYSIATI improve conversion rates and average order values for our home interiors clients.

Here’s a case study where we used the principle of WYSIATI for a home furnishings client to improve filter functionality and increase its visibility and thereby deliver a better customer experience for a client.

2.      Endowment Effect

Endowment Effect happens when people place a higher value on something they already have. This means that we are quite reluctant to give up what we have for what we could have or don’t yet have.

It is also called the principle of Loss Aversion, and it works very well when you can persuade the customers that they have something great in the basket that they don’t want to lose. Though this usually works the best with products that have a free trial period, we’ve also seen it work for home furnishing products.


Where to Use Endowment Effect

We have successfully used the principle of Loss Aversion in our experiments on the following pages for home furnishing brands:

  • Checkout
  • PDP
  • Basket
  • Sitewide

Of these, the theory has worked the best on the checkout page. This is probably because by the time users have reached checkout, they have spent enough time with the product to really want to own it.

When to Use Endowment Effect

Use the Endowment Effect when users have already added products to the cart but show hesitation in completing the purchase. Find out what exactly is causing these hesitations through customer surveys and user interviews, so that you can solve each problem appropriately.

The easiest way would be to use motivational and persuasive CRO techniques such as:

  • Adding scarcity and urgency messaging
  • Giving free delivery
  • Adding trust messaging around product/brand and payment options
  • Giving special discounts/offers if the user shows exit intent after adding a product to cart.

For our home interiors clients, around 55% of the experiments conducted using the Endowment Effect have resulted in higher conversion rates and sales.

For a home décor client, we used the principle of Loss Aversion to create an experience where users were shown free delivery message and a slider indicating how close they were to getting free delivery.

This motivated users to add more items to the cart and also complete the transaction, thereby increasing AOVs and conversion rates for the client.

3.      Ambiguity Aversion

Ambiguity Aversion, or the Ellsberg Paradox, is the human tendency to hate ambiguity or uncertainty and to prefer known risks over unknown risks. In eCommerce, this translates to making sure the user does not feel certain of anything on your site—be it product details, returns, delivery, or brand trust.

Where to Use Ambiguity Aversion

We have effectively used the principle of Ambiguity Aversion in our experiments on the following pages for home interiors brands:

  • PDP
  • Checkout
  • PLP

Of these, the principle has been most successful on the PDP. We believe this to be because users like to know everything about a product before they can commit to buying it.

When to Use Ambiguity Aversion

Ambiguity Aversion can work well when applied in cases such as:

  • Users are not completing a purchase because they don’t understand what some terminology means.
  • It is not clear how many steps there are in a checkout or why certain information is asked for in checkout forms.
  • There are product concerns related to fitting, size, colour, etc.
  • Your site has customising options that require users to input a lot of information and they are not sure what they’ll get in the end.
  • Users don’t trust the site on product quality, payments, delivery, or returns.

We have seen conversion rate uplift in 48% of the experiments conducted using Ambiguity Aversion for our furniture and furnishings clients.

For example, for a furniture client, we noticed that users did not understand certain jargons used on the site and were getting distracted and often dropping off to search for the meaning of the terms. We ran a successful experiment using Ambiguity Aversion, in which we changed the problematic terminologies.

4.      Urgency

Urgency messaging is a psychological tactic used to create a sense of “hurry up” and FOMO (fear of missing out) in users, so that they complete the purchase now than later.

Urgency messages come in various forms, which often include scarcity and exclusivity messaging such as: ‘sale’ badges, pre-ordering, “x% discount only today”, “order now for next day delivery”, “only x items left”, “booked/bought x times in the last 24 hours”, “only for loyalty programme customers”, etc.

Urgency works quite well with furniture and furnishings because these are not impulse purchases, and a nudge in the right direction can convince people to buy now than later.

Where to Use Urgency

Urgency messaging has succeeded in our experiments on the following pages for furniture and home décor brands:

  • PDP
  • Checkout
  • PLP
  • Homepage

Of these, the trigger has been most successful on the PDP. This is quite obvious, since users are easily persuaded with such psychological triggers once they have seen the product and liked it.

When to Use Urgency

Add urgency messaging to persuade users to complete a transaction when they seem ready to purchase but show a tendency to keep the item in basket and come back later, or browse for a long time, yet drop off without adding an item to basket.

This can also help nudge users who are undecided between two or more products, to come to a decision and complete the transaction sooner than later.

We have seen 46% of the experiments that used urgency or FOMO messaging increase conversions and sales for our furniture and furnishings clients.

During user research for a home furnishing client, we noticed that people were dropping off from basket and checkout without completing the purchase. The client was willing to offer time-sensitive discounts, and we created an exit intent pop-up that showed discount code and a countdown to when the offer would expire.

The experiment was very successful and the revenue uplift more than made up for the discount the client offered.

5.      Focusing Effect

Focusing Effect refers to the cognitive bias in which a person tends to put too much emphasis on one detail instead of looking at the bigger picture. It is the tendency of humans to put less effort on a task by applying the lessons from their past experiences.

This leads to people not focusing on the current experience or the bigger picture and placing too much importance on limited factors, thereby ignoring information that could be more relevant to their current experience.

For example, say you’ve bought from a brand before and the returns experience was bad. You are looking for products from the same brand 2 years later, and you still think back to the bad returns experience, without considering that in 2 years things might have changed, or that the product is different, or that the company’s returns policy has been updated, etc.

However, unlike other psychological principles, the Focusing Effect actually works well when used as a selling tactic in the business’s favour. The simplest way to do this is to highlight certain details of a product to make it look more attractive.

Where to Use Focusing Effect

Experiments using the Focussing Effect have been most effective on the following pages for home furnishings brands:

  • PDP
  • PLP/Category Page
  • Sitewide
  • Checkout

Of these, the effect has worked the best on PDPs and PLPs. Again, this is because these are the pages where businesses can best grab a user’s attention and motivate them to add a product to cart.

When to Use Focusing Effect

Here are some circumstances where you can use the Focusing Effect to your favour:

  • In PLPs, highlight 1-2 most popular product features to attract the user, instead of them having to head to the PDP for details.
  • When there are too many details associated with your product on the PDP, highlight above the fold the key things that a user looks for.
  • When returning users visit your site, show products they’ve previously viewed, added to cart but not purchased, recommendations based on their previous views and purchases, etc.
  • Similarly, in each stage of customer journey, highlight what is most important to them (which you need to find out through user research) at that stage. People’s attention will be drawn to the highlighted information, and that could motivate them to complete a transaction.

Around 46% of the experiments we’ve conducted on home interior brands using the Focusing Effect have resulted in higher conversion rates.

For a furniture client, we used Focusing Effect to create a unique experience. We noticed that users copied product names from the website to compare prices elsewhere. However, this client was a D2C seller and their products weren’t available on any other eCommerce sites.

So in the experiment, when users highlighted text on the page presumably to copy it for web search, we showed them a text pop-up that the brand’s products were not available elsewhere. This motivated users to continue browsing and eventually make a purchase.

Disclaimer: Application of Consumer Psychology Principles Should ALWAYS Be Backed by User Research

As we always say, you cannot use consumer psychology principles to optimise your site and app pages unless the changes you’re making are backed by user research. Don’t depend just on web analytics and heatmap analysis to give you the deep insights needed for conversion optimisation—listen to your customers.

User research in different forms—whether it’s session recording analysis, usability testing, interviews, or surveys—cannot be avoided today. The more you know about your users, the better experiences you can provide them. And the better the CX on your site or app, the happier your customers will be, and the higher your conversion rates and revenue will be.

Experimentation is key to optimising customer experiences. No principle can be guaranteed to work on your audiences—you need to trial and test the changes you make. Your users may not like the change, or they may love it; or new users may like the changes but returning users may not, or vice versa.

The only way to know for sure is to test the changes, continuously and consistently.