When the team at Room & Board built their first website back in 1999, they thought carefully about how to mirror a customer’s very personal in-store experience online. Any move to the digital would need to convey the same importance the company placed in every product detail and in every customer relationship. Originally spun off from a family-owned furniture business in Minneapolis, Room & Board focused from day one on modern furniture, with an emphasis on American craftsmanship and the use of sustainable materials. The company quickly earned a following on the virtues of both its heirloom-quality furniture and its dedication to personalized, high-quality customer service. For years, the Room & Board website essentially functioned as a photo catalog of the company’s products: There was no way to buy anything online, only in the company’s stores. Then, in 2006, Room & Board added a wish list feature to the site. Customers could create a list of items from the site they wanted to buy, and email it to company headquarters, which processed the emails as orders. “That first month we did it, we broke just shy of $700,000 in sales, and we [thought], wait a minute, there’s something here we’ve got to figure out,” recalled John Schroeder, retail business intelligence manager. So a year later, the company featured the email ordering option on the website; it hadn’t mentioned wish lists much to that point. Sales jumped another 50%. Schroeder and his team wanted to serve and learn from their customers as much as they wanted to grow an online presence. “We were understanding how customers were utilizing the website, our stores, or our call center, and taking that information and [asking] ‘How do we create the best possible experience for our customer?’” Schroeder said.