Herman Miller designs experiences to help people do their best work.

Learn how Herman Miller scaled to keep pace with ecommerce growth through unified teams and data.

Creating personalized experiences is in Nicole Fisch’s DNA. As Vice President of Ecommerce at Herman Miller, an innovative design brand specializing in high-quality office furniture and home furnishings, Nicole is responsible for digital strategy across the company’s global family of brands. But despite being a digital native, she spent part of her early career working for her grandfather’s Broadway ticket and concierge service, a high-touch, service-based business that was becoming obsolete. To compete, Nicole brought the business into the digital age, pairing the company’s deep-rooted customer relationships with modern savvy.

Today, she’s applying the lessons she learned there to confront another arena that’s undergoing change: the traditional office.

When the pandemic forced people all over the world to conduct their school, business, and personal lives from home, quality furniture made the difference between discomfort and daily productivity. Tables became both dining areas and makeshift desks. Living rooms were classrooms and recreational areas. At a time when people were quarantined in their homes, Herman Miller proved quality-designed products could improve people’s lives.

“We weren’t frontline workers, but these are products that are meant to improve your performance,” said Nicole. “If you’re sitting for hours and don’t have back pain, that’s a real, tangible thing you’re helping people with.”

When ecommerce business suddenly grew 313% due to the increased demand, the century-old business decided to accelerate its long-term plan to create a frictionless, digital-first B2C and B2B experience. Under this new strategy, Herman Miller was able to engage with customers from the first moment of design inspiration to the digital storefront and even beyond the purchase with incredible service.

Let’s take a look at how Herman Miller used Salesforce Customer 360 to move from a digital believer to an ecommerce leader.

 
 

“We sort of joke on my team, we’re only selling furniture, we’re not saving the world. But, I think that there’s something to the Herman Miller purpose that says you can use furniture and design to help make the world a better place.”

Nicole Fisch

VP of Ecommerce
 
 
 

How Herman Miller Uses Data to Design Better Customer Experiences

In this short video [2:33], hear how Herman Miller improved customers' lives through well-designed furniture and data-driven experiences during the pandemic.
 
 
 

1. Create ONE Herman Miller: a unified team with a single view of its customers.

Herman Miller needed a single source of truth for its team members and contract dealers to deliver a premium online experience for both B2B and B2C customers. To accomplish this, Herman Miller needed to unify its aging systems without losing the valuable customer history data it contained.

The goal was to create “ONE Herman Miller” from both an internal and external perspective — a single source of truth that would:

  • Provide service agents with the visibility to resolve customer cases quickly
  • Inform intelligent and prescriptive marketing journeys
  • Uncover new sales opportunities

Most of all, having unified data would allow Herman Miller to retain and surface vital customer information as the organization continued to scale globally. With commerce, marketing, and service teams united around the customer, the company could meet their expectations for personalized service at scale.

“The pandemic really allowed us to push innovation, especially through our digital experiences,” said Kristen DeLap, Director of Digital Product at Herman Miller.

2. Make ecommerce experiences as well-designed as the products.

Herman Miller customers expect a well-designed shopping experience to match the customized, high-quality products it sells.

Yet, after conducting extensive research on the customer journey, Herman Miller found that the consideration phase to purchase furniture (arguably the longest and most important part of the cycle) was being underserved by the company’s online retail experience. Herman Miller’s Design Within Reach site also scored just four out of 100 on Google’s speed test, causing the sub-brand to lose market share to key competitors. More than that, the company’s ecommerce sites revealed a disconnect between what consumers were seeing and the innovative, highly designed experiences the Herman Miller brand was known for.

Nicole’s team took the research to heart, conceiving a seamless digital commerce experience that is able to provide the premium, customer-centric journeys that shoppers expected from a design-focused brand. With help from Salesforce system integrator partner Capgemini, the new site was executed in eight months, featuring:

  • Clickable images for direct purchase, increasing conversion rates
  • Redesigned checkout flows to reduce cart abandonment
  • Tailored product recommendations using AI to help shoppers find what they’re looking for
The ecommerce solution also allows for greater ease of use, faster speed and performance, room for expansion, and a way to easily replicate the site for international brands. Since launching, Herman Miller has received positive feedback from design studios, peers, and interior designers about the sophisticated and helpful experiences its sites create.
 
 

313%

increase in annual
ecommerce sales

 

0

customer service calls
first week of site relaunch

 
 
 

Storefronts For Headless Commerce: Learn how to successfully build and manage the head of your headless strategy.

 
 

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3. Create customer journeys across brands and geographies.

At Herman Miller, no one size fits all. Each of the company’s brands — including Herman Miller, Design Within Reach, and HAY — is designed to meet different styles and shopper preferences. With so many products to choose from in the Herman Miller portfolio, it’s important to not only show the right styles to the right customer, but deliver them at the right time.

To reach its audiences, Herman Miller uses digital marketing software to build complex customer journeys, sophisticated email campaigns, and engaging SMS programs that allow it to communicate with consumers across multiple brands and geographies, multiple times per day. The company can even manage the B2B lead pipeline with outside dealers using powerful marketing automation.

“Within each of our brands is a different customer base,” said Nicole. “Some of them overlap, but mostly they don’t. We want to make sure we’re treating each of those customers and brands very differently, and Marketing Cloud allows us to do that.”

Herman Miller is also able to better understand consumer preferences across digital touchpoints and use that data to personalize customer interactions. Under the previous experience, Herman Miller ran merchandising operations manually, taking time to put products in the right place and build interactions that needed to change often. Now, Herman Miller uses in-depth customer insights and AI to build personalized experiences that perform much better under A/B testing.

 
 
 

Digital Has Found Its Moment

Nicole has been working in digital most of her career. Just 10 years ago, ecommerce wasn’t what it was today, and she spent much of her days convincing colleagues of the value of digital.

“People said you’ll never sell a sofa online,” she said. “Now we sell multiple sofas a day.”

While ecommerce has been preparing for tremendous growth over the last few years, it’s nothing compared to the acceleration it experienced in 2020 — and it’ll never return to the level it was before.

“Ecommerce has finally found its moment. It’s really nice to see it do what it was meant to.”

Nicole Fisch

VP of Ecommerce
 
 

4. Increase scale and productivity to deliver on customer expectations.

For Herman Miller, designing meaningful customer journeys doesn’t end after a purchase. To keep customers satisfied and loyal, the company has integrated its end-to-end service solution and ecommerce experiences for the utmost visibility. Customer 360 gives Herman Miller the framework to deliver on customers’ expectations for fast, personal, and responsive shopping, while delivering the scalability required to keep pace with its unprecedented ecommerce growth.

By bringing customer data across marketing, commerce, and service together in a single source of truth, agents will then have the foresight to resolve customer cases quickly, inform new marketing journeys based on service interactions, uncover new cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and retain and surface vital information that will help the company scale globally.

Herman Miller has also extended support on its websites with live chat, enabling shoppers to easily connect with a design expert on their channel of choice if they have any questions. Incorporating video into chat proved especially helpful at the start of the pandemic when consumers were in their homes and floor employees were still in empty showrooms. With video chat, shoppers could connect with their local store associate, view products live, view swatch samples, inquire about order status, and more — all from the comfort of their own homes.

 
 

“Imagine if the customer service rep has all the information about the customer. It makes that interaction much more seamless.”

Neeraja Venkatasubramanian

Manager of Digital Product
 
 

5. Make sustainability core to the business.

In addition to designing premium ecommerce, marketing, and service experiences, Herman Miller is also designing for the future. The company’s focus on sustainability extends across multiple facets, from decarbonization to supply chain analysis to taking responsibility for where a product ends up when it’s no longer needed.

By 2030, Herman Miller has committed to achieving goals like zero waste, 50% more local renewables (50,000 mwh), 100% Design for the Environment-approved products, and 125,000 tons of product taken back per year. But tracking this progress previously took the team hundreds of hours across 20 disparate spreadsheets. Today, Herman Miller keeps its teams energy efficient with the use of a carbon accounting platform. Now at the click of a button, Herman Miller can generate progress reports and publish its annual carbon footprint for ultimate transparency.

“We have great design on the upfront side of our products, but if we’re not working to actively close the loop, we haven’t done our job,” said Gabe Wing, Director of Sustainability at Herman Miller.

Herman Miller has won a number of awards for sustainability, including the platinum rating in corporate social responsibility by EcoVadis (2020) and being named a “Disclosure Leader” by the Chemical Footprint Project (2021). The company is continuing to work toward lessening its impact on the environment, adopting Cradle to Cradle Certification® standards for a circular economy and even developing its own textile line made from recycled plastics.

 
For Herman Miller, problem-solving design extends across all facets of the business, from high-quality products to tailor-made journeys to sustainable development. To achieve the next 100 years of growth, Herman Miller is setting its sights on the customer, building the most seamless, premium experiences backed by a single source of truth.

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