More than likely, your retail store manages customer data, online analytics and sales records within multiple systems and applications, none of which connect and communicate with each other. It’s a common problem, with stores often relying on legacy solutions not specifically built to serve smaller brick-and-mortar stores with a digital presence.
Retailers who lack a proper process and centralized system to track leads as they move from online research to showroom shopping miss out on big opportunities to boost sales. Unifying these silos of sales data and consumer profile information gives your furniture sales team a better chance at converting online leads to in-store purchases, while also delivering a singular view of what’s working and where your sales associates or digital marketing strategy needs improvement.
“You’ve got to collect that rich customer information to make better decisions,” says Justin Bowen, Web Content Manager at The Great American Home Store, which operates stores in Tennessee and Mississippi. “Our website asks a lot of the same questions a salesperson would if they came into the store. We know about their preferences, where they’re at in the shopping cycle, what they’re looking to buy and how much they’re looking to spend.
“If your system doesn’t know your customer like a salesperson would in person, you’re going to be missing opportunities.”
Evaluate Your Tech Infrastructure
There’s data stored in the store’s point-of-sale system, data kept in the email system, data captured on the website, and data collected separately in each of your digital advertising platforms. Are you making the most out of all of this information?
Bowen’s team spent the last six months reevaluating the store’s various technologies, from core systems like POS and website to ancillary applications related to marketing and communication. “We had like 10 different databases across all our tech ecosystem where customer data could be acquired,” Bowen says. “We realized a lot of the technology was inefficient and not being leveraged properly. Either there wasn’t the knowledge on how to use it or there wasn’t a way to utilize it.”
Centralize Data to Leverage Communication
The GAHS marketing department realized they needed to centralize all of that data and streamline the store’s technology, according to Bowen. The team decided to try a more integrated approach by investing in an AI-driven marketing cloud solution that includes a CRM, marketing automation through email and text nurture, digital advertising and data analytics. The company can now track consumers through multiple touchpoints and catalog their shopping information as they move from the website to the physical store to make a purchase.
“We decided that would be the most valuable asset in terms of leveraging communication with our customers, not to mention marketing insights,” Bowen says. “Even just to better understand the problems that our customers go through by looking at the entire journey.”
More Effective Lead Tracking Tools
Neal’s Furniture in Oklahoma provides its shoppers with an interactive, AI-guided shopping experience on the store website. As consumers navigate through the website’s helpful design style assessment or sofa finder tool, the AI software collects lead data the sales associates can leverage when following up with leads, such as the type of sofa fabric and specific color the consumer searched for online.
“We use this information to more effectively follow up and market to those customers,” says Vice President John Neal Jr. “It definitely improves our sales team’s productivity by providing additional leads and detailed customer preferences.”
Recently, the family-owned furniture store decided to add a CRM to its bag of technology tricks. By linking the customer database to the store’s website and digital platforms, Neal plans to make even better use of company data and further increase store productivity. “I believe the CRM integration will allow for an even more effective lead tracking tool,” Neal Jr. says. “It makes sense for our follow-up system to be integrated with as many tools as possible.”
Help Your Sales Team Succeed
Neal says he’s particularly excited about the SMS texting functionality that’s being developed as an enhancement to the lead management tool, because it will allow for notes, conversations and notification reminders to all function on the same platform. That makes it easy for his sales associates to see which leads need attention and different ways they can step in to help the customer navigate the shopping process.
“The shopping experience is broken and needs to be reinvented,” Bowen says. “That goes beyond a piece of software; it’s really about making the whole experience better, not only for the customer but also the company that’s utilizing it.”
Help your sales team more wisely nurture leads by gathering as much information as possible from online shoppers as they research, then organize those leads in an integrated consumer data platform that aggregates all of the captured information to reveal prime prospects and sales opportunities.
“That, to me, is the key,” Bowen says. “I don’t think it’s on a lot of people’s radar, but this is something that will be critical in business operations if you’re going to survive these next five years — being able to merge that data, get a singular view and a very robust, rich view of each customer.”
Additional Home Furnishings Resources
- Learn how to get your digital advertising in tip-top shape this year.
- Find out how to transform your home furnishings team with digital sales training.
- How to utilize Word-of-Mouth-Marketing Online to generate Customers from existing sales.
- Turn your website visitors into in-store traffic with PERQ’s marketing cloud for home furnishings stores.