Habitat has overhauled its UK web site this week in a move thought to be its first step towards creating a fully transactional site.

The furniture retailer is testing an e-commerce platform in France as it considers a similar package for other markets.

Habitat has refreshed its UK site with a campaign to highlight its design credentials.

From September 10, designers used by Habitat will feature in a series of vodcasts – online streamed videos – to promote its autumn collection, which is called Every Product Tells a Story.

The serialised vodcasts will be streamed online over five weeks as part of the From Paper to Product campaign. They will feature five designers, who will discuss the process of creating their products for Habitat’s autumn collection.

Featured designers include 1960s fashion designer and Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki, as well as Concetta Gallo and Kathy Dalwood. The vodcasts will also be screened in 10 selected stores and backed by a drive in the consumer and national press.

Retail Knowledge Bank senior partner Robert Clark said that a UK transactional web site would allow Habitat to access an audience beyond its 38 UK stores.

“It would be a positive move, but will require a strong marketing push, which is costly,” he said.

Sales at Habitat have floundered as the retailer struggled to find its place in a saturated furniture market, facing competition from rivals such as lower-priced Ilva, Ikea and The Pier.

In February, it announced it had slipped into the red with a pre-tax loss of£3.7 million in the year to March 26, 2006. Sales fell 13 per cent over the period to just less than£103 million.