DDIY – The Digital Do-It-Yourself Market is Booming. Are You Ready?

By Mark Brixton | 18 Jul 2013

DIY (home improvement) shoppers have a specific type of online buying behaviour. This article (with free download) by SLI Systems provides great insights.

Digital DIY is booming, as interest in using the internet for researching and buying in the home improvement category continues to rise. From 2011 to 2012, online sales across the home improvement category increased by 30 percent, more than tripling the growth of the overall market.

Yes, DIY enthusiasts are flooding into the digital realm in search of home goods, appliances and tools. There’s never been a better time for retailers in the home improvement category to capitalise on this lucrative trend and put your business in the box seat for capturing more customers online. The popularity of TV shows like The Block and House Rules has turned the spotlight on DIY in 2013, and customers are scouring the internet for hot products and ideas.

Are you ready for the surge?

Who is the online DIY Shopper?

It’s the fundamental question, and the answer is broad – the do-it-yourself market comprises enthusiastic novices at one end of the spectrum, experienced professionals at the other end, and a wide range of skill levels in between.

However, the unifying characteristic is passion for the craft of home improvement – from choosing the perfect vase to researching the most eco-friendly dishwasher, the online DIY shopper wants guidance and value. With such a broad range of products under the DIY umbrella, retailers face challenges as users search for particular products in different ways. Customers shopping for appliances or décor may be driven by price, specification, brand or appearance, whereas those needing a tool or part need to match a particular specification, such as gauge, thread size or dimension.

Tools for the Job

To aid discovery of the products users are searching for, we’ve compiled a toolkit of solutions designed to optimise the path to purchase and get the virtual tills ringing. The following site search, navigation, merchandising and SEO solutions are proven to help customers navigate quickly to the items they want.

Relevant Search

How relevant are the top search results on your site to the search terms? Basic or ineffective site search is a surefire way to lose customers from your site. You may well carry the item the customer wants, but if it doesn’t appear early in the search results the assumption is you don’t carry it. It’s a wasted opportunity easily rectified with some site search attention.

Inform and Inspire

DIYers can’t get enough info on a product and how to use it. Plus, ideas and inspiration go a long way in the home improvement world – again, look at the success of countless shows and magazines dedicated to the subject. Tailor content for both the enthusiast (e.g. How to build a bookshelf) and the professional (eg. Technical specs and installation guides). Critically, make sure all your quality non-product content such as buyers guides, videos, reviews and articles are easily searchable.

The Multi-Dimensional Universe

We’re a metric system nation, but the world of products isn’t always on the same page. Site visitors don’t always search for products using the same naming conventions. Whether they search “8.5 x 12.375” or “8 ½ x 12 3/8”, your site search should accommodate for standard, metric and imperial units so customers are always presented with the right products.

Full or partial SKU or Part Number Matching

Many hard goods like tools and building materials are catalogued by a SKU or part number rather than a product name, so cater to both forms of search. SLI Systems can also match full or partial SKUs and part numbers, avoiding frustration and making it easier for both customers and staff to locate specific products online.

Optimise SEO and Be Found

A high ranking in organic search engine results for valuable terms is the holy grail of digital marketing. SLI’s Site Champion has been designed to drive more organic traffic through, creating dynamically-generated, optimised landing pages from user-generated input.

Navigation by Pictures

In the DIY world, some products are going to be more easily identified by image than by name. Showcasing product images in your navigation and mega menu can be a great way to improve click throughs to products, especially in the site search results.

Live Pricing / Live Availability

When you’re in tight competition with other companies offering the same goods, the best and the most accurate pricing can win the sale. Keeping your product pricing or availability updated in real time ensures you’re being as competitive as possible.

Add to Basket from Search Pages

Speed rules in the online retail world. Simply implementing an ‘Add to Basket’ or ‘Add to Cart’ button on the search results page can increase conversions considerably, and speed up the user’s path to purchase.

Power to the People

Ratings and reviews are a proven winner online in many categories, including home improvement. The influence of peers, known or unknown, gives validation and authenticity to the online shopping experience, particularly on more expensive products where the opinions of others become a critical factor in closing the deal.

Narrow Down To the Best Products

A search for a broad search term like “refrigerator” will usually return too many results for customers to make a thoughtful decision. Offering assistance in narrowing the search by using autocomplete and adding refinements such as brand, price, shipping options or ratings and reviews.


Showcase air conditioners during a scorching summer? Heaters when a cold snap happens? Tailoring your merchandising will change the way your DIY online store performs. SLI’s merchandising console allows you to easily promote special deals, seasonal or popular products in search results using tuning rules. Additionally, you can emphasise specials with merchandising banners that can add cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, and create landing pages with targeted content.

Download the Industry Brief

To learn more about which site features lead to higher profits for Home DIY retailers, click here to download the SLI Systems Industry Brief on Hardware, Appliances & Tools.

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