Houzz: content, commerce and community

When you’re building a brand through content, it helps if that brand’s evolution is underpinned by a great story. This is certainly the case for home remodelling and interior decoration platform, Houzz, which was borne out of co-founder Alon Cohen’s frustration when developing his own house.

Speaking at Shop.org, Retail’s Digital Summit, the former computer scientist shared the brand’s background of developing a content-led commercial platform, in a way that educates the market at the same time as driving revenue.

Visual content lies at the heart of the Houzz proposition. In fact, it was king long before the ecommerce side of the business; Houzz only launched its vendor marketplace in 2014. However, its commercial arm has grown exponentially, with over one million professionals now using the platform to connect with customers and develop design ideas – which Houzz says can shorten design and remodelling project lifecycles by up to six months.

The shoppable side of Houzz, though, is interweaved into a content-led customer experience. “When people go shopping it’s really to solve a bigger problem,” remarked Cohen.

Houzz’s mission is to help solve that problem. Tutorials and feature projects are a big part of its strategy, with the brand recently collaborating with Ashton Kutcher on a design project through its HouzzTV channel.

This is supported by an interesting use of augmented reality, to help enthusiastic homemakers bring their visions to life. Two key initiatives are Sketch, in which consumers can add products virtually to a photograph of a room, changing the size and colour of items to get an accurate impression of how they will appear in context. The other application is ‘view in my room’, where shoppers can superimpose furniture onto photographs of their home to gauge the appearance of a potential purchase before checking out.

The latest feature of the Houzz platform is ‘visual match’, which analyses an image and utilises deep learning to work out what each piece of furniture or soft furnishing is, and where it is being sold. This is enabling Houzz to truly connect the dots between content and commerce, bringing a new level of convenience to the idea of shoppable editorial.

The next challenge for Houzz is to adapt this content for a global customer base, as it is in the process of rolling out its platform across Europe and into Asia. Cohen is already well aware of the need to adjust its proposition for each market, even down to localising the website user experience. However, he is confident that the Houzz brand can build the intense, trusted level of relationship in international geographies that it has nurtured with customers in the USA.

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