Are You Letting Your Home Furnishings Business Run You?4 min read
As the owner of a home furnishings store, you have the best intentions to focus on priorities that will make your business successful and generate revenue. Focusing on the customers you can’t actually see is one of those crucial areas that may be hard to prioritize. How often do you have a plan for the day that includes focusing on your website customer?
Odds are you have several things more pressing and more present on your everyday agenda. The tangible responsibilities tend to take over — scheduling deliveries, processing payroll, taking care of the customers walking through the front door. If you have an online presence, you have customers coming in your digital storefront. What do you know about them? Maybe the customer who just walked in the showroom and purchased appliances spent a considerable amount of time on your website first. How would you know?
Getting caught up in the whirlwind of activities necessary to run a business is common. Yet without focusing on all your customers, in-store and online, you may be missing out on more sales. Committing time to define your digital marketing strategy, as much as anything else, is critical to moving your business forward as e-commerce competition increases. Your digital efforts drive customers to your site, now focus on converting those potential leads to actual customers.
Online Data Gives Valuable Insight into Your Customers
Time is valuable for business owners and management, so it’s important to streamline the process for collecting lead data and nurturing the sales process. What do you know about your online customer? How do you collect the data? What are you doing with this information? Nurturing online leads often falls down on the list of priorities when running a retail business, yet without them, there may not be a business.
“Furniture retailers started as traditional brick-and-mortar entities. They have refined the sales process of the person who walks in the door,” says Eric Sears, Account Executive at PERQ. “They are their No. 1 priority to capitalize on at that moment. Other customers are visiting their websites and retailers may not view these activities to understand how to capitalize on those customers.”
Sears adds that home furnishing retailers sometimes give the excuse they don’t have the time to create a process to leverage all online leads. He stresses the value in looking at common online customer behaviors, then building activities based on that learning, which helps retailers create a playbook. For example, if the online customer completes a sleep assessment and indicates back pain and they tend to sleep hot, this provides the retailer valuable information to capitalize on that opportunity and provide specific recommendations automatically.
Find a Lead Management System That Works for You
To drive engagement and increase leads, select a marketing cloud that automatically does the analytical work to understand your online customer using artificial intelligence. An AI-powered marketing cloud and technology can track a consumer using cookies and behavior mapping technology. It collects shopper’s data and remembers them when they return to your website allowing for personalization, such as targeted incentives, recommended products or interactive tools to help guide them along. All of this data provides stores with valuable customer insight, and therefore a more qualified lead. It also gives stores a way to track online leads to in-store sales, so they can measure how well a lead generation source works at converting.
Dave Weiss, marketing manager with Sherman’s in Illinois, utilizes PERQ’s Web Conversion solution. “One benefit is that we only forward the hot leads to our salespeople, so they’re highly qualified and it keeps the volume manageable,” Weiss says. “For the leads that indicate they’re still in the early researching phase, PERQ offers a very nice email nurturing program to keep us top of mind as the customer progresses through their purchase journey. It’s easy to justify the relatively small expense of the solution and calculate the strong return on investment given the number of sales we can directly attribute to PERQ.”
Converting Customers in the Showroom
When retailers collect detailed information on customer behavior, they have more power to convert sales by personalizing the experience for the customer. Weiss recommends being patient with the process. “Through a little trial and error, we’ve developed some best practices for following up and shared that with our teams so they are set up for success with every lead that comes in,” Weiss says. “We find that our hot leads either convert to store visits rather quickly, or not at all.”
Understanding the online customer does take time, but it’s worth it. “Some sort of process is better than nothing,” says Sears. “Without measurements in place, it is difficult to determine the customer journey.”
As a business owner, it’s evident you have more than enough work to do on a daily basis. Consider a marketing cloud as another member of your team, working around the clock, freeing up your time and making your sales team more productive so you can focus on the business at hand.
This article originally appeared on Furniture World.