If technology buzzwords like “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning” make your head spin, you’re not alone. Many store owners either don’t fully understand the capabilities of AI on a home furnishings website or think it’s only useful for big corporations and e-commerce sites. Others aren’t quite ready to trust the idea of machines making business decisions and automating some of the sales process.
AI can maximize every facet of a furniture retailer’s marketing strategy, lead nurturing process and digital advertising budgets. Today’s AI-driven data engines make it simple and affordable to integrate the interactive technology with an existing home furniture store’s website and digital accounts, and deliver analytics reporting to retailers that easily proves return on investment.
AI is no longer the stuff of scary sci-fi tales or only available on a national brand’s website. It’s not intended to replace your store’s sales, customer service and design staff. Rather, AI technology uses data to mirror and enhance those personalized services offered in your home furnishings showroom, increasing your chances at converting more online leads.
Still unsure of how AI really works or struggle to see the practical applications of trending concepts like machine learning? Let us break down the many ways AI can improve your home furnishings website, and your retail business overall.
AI On Home Furnishings Websites
Artificial intelligence collects and analyzes data, then uses that information to customize a consumer’s experience. While at the same time, AI allows for automation. AI taps into the collected data to serve up the best next step in the shopper’s buying journey, as well as automate and personalize everything from email nurturing to digital ads.
Here’s what that looks like on a home furnishings website:
- Tracking a consumer through cookies and behavior mapping technology, AI website software collects data on each online shopper and remembers them when they return.
- AI personalizes a consumer’s website experience based on gathered data, using smart pathing technology to serve up interactive tools, targeted incentives and recommended products that move them further down the sales funnel.
- Each time a website visitor engages with an interactive tool, such as a Sofa Style or Appliance Assessment, the store gathers more valuable information about that consumer.
- AI aggregates and analyzes the data to deliver stores with detailed consumer profiles on real leads who invested time and information while engaging on the website.
AI-Driven Marketing Cloud
An AI-driven marketing cloud connects several separate marketing and data systems, so they communicate with each other. It centralizes the data gathered from a store’s online and offline marketing efforts, giving retailers a broader perspective on how each aspect of the business is truly performing and how they interconnect.
- All data collected by AI systems gets automatically stored and organized in a CRM database. Sales teams can access consumer profile information, see which salesperson is working on a lead, and follow every touchpoint a consumer makes with the store across the website, digital advertising, phone/text and in person.
- Your sales and design team receive valuable consumer profile information so they can better nurture customers and focus time on leads who indicate online they’re ready to buy now.
- For consumers who are not ready to purchase, an AI-driven marketing cloud tied to the website gives furniture retailers the ability to automate email nurturing campaigns. Using the consumer’s data, the AI system sends hyper-personalized, relevant and timely emails to drive them back to the store website.
AI to Manage Digital Advertising
Tracking and determining ROI for multiple digital advertising campaigns can be a real nightmare for retailers. An AI approach to managing digital advertising is much more efficient and effective than a team of humans trying to sort through the data as it constantly flows in and make adjustments on the fly.
- AI-driven software can tell exactly where a website visitor came from, so it can track consumers across multiple platforms and devices and deliver more accurate reporting.
- AI can automatically retarget website leads with targeted digital advertising on a consumer’s favorite news, shopping and social sites, using popular AI techniques like geofencing to advertise in a certain location and paid search ads with keywords related to that consumer’s home furnishings research.
- AI takes in-store sales data and tracks it to online leads to show which leads convert into revenue and which advertising avenues inspire the purchase.
Machine Learning Aspect of AI
While AI adapts and makes decisions automatically, it’s based on preset paths and information that’s input by the retailer and tech provider. Machine learning is a subset of AI; it uses the data collected through AI to predict probability and learns from the incoming stream of data to form new, actionable insights. The system adapts to new information collected in real time.
- An AI system featuring a machine learning component can aggregate a store’s collected data with millions of other relevant data points stored in the AI data engine to identify the type of consumer most likely to buy from that retail location and which digital marketing avenues work best to target that audience.
- Machine learning can automatically adjust digital advertising campaigns and make changes that maximize a store’s reach and return on investment. It allows you to reallocate online advertising funds in response to performance and emerging trends, and tweak the existing advertising campaigns to reflect the computer’s real-time predictions about what keywords, platforms, target audiences and messaging work best to convert a customer at the lowest cost.
Buyer Beware When Shopping for AI Solutions
If you’re new to AI technology, it’s important to understand there’s no standardized definition of artificial intelligence and machine learning. There’s a broad spectrum of possible AI functionalities available.
Some products rely on very basic AI technology that simply maps out a path of possible choices, while others utilize a powerful AI-driven data engine that can analyze giant sets of data points and automatically take action. You likely encounter some form of AI every day, from self-help kiosks at airports and post offices to targeted digital ads embedded in your Facebook feed and sent to your inbox.
Because there’s no minimal threshold of capabilities a vendor or product must meet to market an AI solution, retail stores need to make sure they understand the specific scenarios of how the technology would work on their particular website and when connected to their internal systems. Request real-life examples of how it’s used, sample reporting and a demo before investing in AI. Know exactly what analytics, technical assistance and implementation help comes with the cost you’re quoted.
Don’t be mislead, thinking every AI solution offers the same level of services. Understand what kind of data powers any AI product you consider, and ask how the AI would improve your home furnishings business.
Additional Home Furnishings Resources
- Make sure your Home Furnishings website is generating quality leads.
- Use your website to create a more personalized experience that customers will remember with these 5 tips.
- Turn your website visitors into in-store traffic with PERQ’s marketing cloud for home furnishings stores.