HOME FURNISHINGS STORE HAD TO CLOSE DOORS IN SPRING
Debra Holden, Owner of Regal House Outlet, worked hard all spring to continue to process orders and deliver furniture to her customers in Fairhaven, MA. Despite needing to close her physical location due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Holden and her team have done everything they can to keep bringing furniture to the home’s of their customers.
One of the new ways Holden learned to help customers while the location was closed, was by offering consultations on their website using PERQ.
Regal House Outlet has been able to open up to in-store shopping yet, Holden and Wendy continue to see customers scheduling consultations and moving forward with purchases online and over the phone.
CONSULTATIONS AND SALES THROUGH ONLINE SCHEDULER
Over the last 4 months, Regal House Outlet has achieved over 54% Lead to Sale conversion of their Shop Live with a Consultant leads, resulting in over $22,000 in sales for their store.
Based on the typical monthly investment in PERQ and industry margins, that’s a return of just under 7X for consultation leads alone!
We have the information and we are able to use it to follow through with our customers over the phone, and it works!
Debra Holden, Owner
As the option for customers to shop in-store opened up, Regal House has seen both higher and lower traffic through the online scheduler. “I saw it drop off a little bit as far as inquiries but now they’ve picked up again.” Despite the infrequent patterns of customers ordering online and shopping in-store Holden plans to keep up their efforts in helping customers online, noting that many customers “like it that way instead of coming in.”
Watch: See How PERQ’s Solution Improves Digital Sales
FURNITURE STORE USES CUSTOMER JOURNEY DATA FOR QUICK FOLLOW-UP
Wendy, a for Regal House Outlet, starts every day by emailing all of her consultation leads. “I do it every morning. I check all the leads.” For each lead, Wendy looks at the contact history in PERQ CRM, and starts her email to the customer. “I check the stock to see if [the product of interest] is available to order. I let them know. I give them the dollar amount and I put it in there.”
Using the information the customer provided, Wendy is able to quickly follow-up with her leads and provide relevant information to close sales. For leads who indicate they’re ready to buy, Wendy calls right away.
“Yesterday, somebody wanted to make an appointment.” She didn’t have the item available on the floor so she called the customer. “I checked the stock, I checked the item and she actually bought the bedroom set right over the phone.”
Home Furnishings Store Builds Relationships Online
Located at the same spot in rural Alabama for nearly 100 years, Akins Furniture does whatever it takes to limit overhead costs so they can offer customers who make the winding journey along County Road 81 the lowest prices possible.
Despite efforts to keep costs down, the Akins family members currently at the helm of the fourth-generation home furnishings company know they must impress online furniture shoppers to attract new customers to the showroom, but wanted to ensure their investment in new technology would pay off.
They decided to try PERQ’s Marketing Cloud to help capture and convert more website leads using AI technology, after being offered a 90-day free trial available to retailers that sell Ashley Furniture.
“We all do most of our research online before any major purchase,” says President Scott Akins. “PERQ has helped to establish a relationship during that process. That brings even more customers into our store.”
Akins has been able to increase the time online shoppers spend browsing the store’s website, while also collecting detailed lead information on every consumer who engages with the personalized interactive experiences, like a design style quiz and mattress assessment. They like that the AI-driven software helps a shopper narrow down their choices, while remembering their name and personal preferences every time they return to shop. Those consumer profile details are also saved in their CRM for sales associates to reference when following up with a lead.
“The initial 90-day results from PERQ were outstanding,” Akins says. “The ROI absolutely blew our minds!”
Retailer Opts for Online Technology Proven to Drive In-Store Sales
The company also uses detailed analytics that show exactly how many website leads convert to in-store sales and how much profit they produced. With more detailed information on each customer they follow up with or who visits the showroom, along with better qualified shoppers who receive assistance online prior to shopping in person, the Akins Furniture sales team says they’re seeing greater success.
“It is a fantastic tool that helps make the online shopping process more convenient for our customers,” Akins says.
Akins decided to opt-in with PERQ after reviewing results from the three-month trial period. In that first 90 days, the store made 223 sales from PERQ leads, totaling more than $267,500 in sales. Total sales dollars after five months equaled $431,700 — a return on investment worth over 2,900%.
Furniture Store Captures Consumers’ Attention and Lead Information
Before adding the interactive web conversion solution, Akins Furniture collected roughly 50 leads from the website per month, converting 0.56% of website traffic into true leads. The retailer, which operates the original store in “Dogtown” just outside Fort Payne, Alabama, and a second location in Scottsboro, now captures more than 650 leads on average each month.
The engaging, upgraded website converts almost 8% of website traffic into trackable web registrations when shoppers fill out one of the interactive experiences, such as a Scratch-and-Save Coupon and Special Pricing promos, or sign up for a bedding, sofa or design consultation.
“PERQ has helped us improve our communication with our customers who are shopping online and have specific questions or concerns,” Akins says. “As a result, we are able to see many more leads become actual sales.”
PERQ leads stay three times as long on the store website than other visitors, averaging almost 16 minutes per session. PERQ leads also look at more than twice as many pages per session with an average of 19 versus the 8 pages for other visitors. Akins identifies and tracks previously anonymous online shoppers, so they can see every time the same person visits the website or uses a different device to browse the site, giving the store visibility into a consumer’s entire buying journey and they say they get more accurate data on engaged leads.
“PERQ has allowed us to acquire the information needed to properly turn a lead into a sale, as well as all of the data to clearly display the ROI,” Akins says.
Ashley Furniture Retailer Overcomes Barriers to New Technology
For a storefront in operation since the 1920s, change can sometimes prove challenging. Thankfully, Akins says the new technology was easy to implement and use.
“We would have never imagined the ROI could be so substantial.”
Scott Akins, President
Management and sales team members can sort the lead management database to prioritize shoppers ready to buy and assign specific leads that require a staffer’s immediate attention. The CRM shows all of the data collected on a shopper, from their preferred design style and current needs to any previous purchases or showroom visits.
“The process of getting started with PERQ was a breeze,” Akins says. “The ease of use in the [CRM] database is a huge asset, for both our sales staff and communication with the customer.”
Akins says he “absolutely” recommends other Ashley Furniture retailers give the marketing cloud technology a try through the free trial. Without the 90-day test period, Akins says the cost barrier would have prevented the century-old furniture store from trying out the AI technology.
“We would have never imagined the ROI could be so substantial,” Akins concludes. “We would not have agreed to pay the monthly fee without being able to see the supporting data.”
Retailer Makes Shopping for Home Furnishings Online Easy with Text Tool
Giving consumers a more convenient way to interact with the Big Sandy Superstore team helps the retailer build stronger relationships with each website visitor before they come into the store. That means continually leveraging the latest advances in technology. “Getting shoppers to engage with our website is the most powerful piece,” says President Bryan Scott, who views it as their biggest challenge. “Keeping them on the site longer is important so they continue browsing.”
In the last few years, Big Sandy has continued to make website improvements, including recently adding an “Ask a Question” text tool. Within two months, they closed more than 330 in-store sales to shoppers who asked a question online before visiting one of the 18 Big Sandy Superstores in Ohio, Kentucky or West Virginia to make a purchase.
Since offering online shoppers a convenient way to instantly connect with a trained store representative, Big Sandy has increased website visitors’ time on site, keeping them browsing up to five times longer. Shoppers who interact with the various website experiences, such as an appliance assessment, stay on the site for more than 15 minutes and look at nearly 14 pages on average.
Sales teams use the valuable data collected through the website’s style quizzes — like what they’re looking to buy, their preferred style, budget and more — when they follow up with a lead or when the shopper shows up in person.
“With the questions the customers are asking and answering, it helps to narrow down a selection of a few items very quickly,” says Dan Evans, Big Sandy Superstore’s Director of Marketing.
Big Sandy Leverages AI Technology to Build Customer Relationships
Robert Van Hoose, owner of the 65-year-old superstore chain, says they’re always looking for new ways to drive customer engagement on the website but previous marketing efforts lacked any way to measure that engagement. They decided to add PERQ’s Web Conversion Solution to the website in October 2017, adding new appliance assessments the following February.
“We can see exactly where that customer’s been online, what experiences they’ve engaged with, what products they’ve looked at on our website,” Scott says. “It helps build that relationship with the consumer before they’re actually coming in the door. We know all about them, and we’re also able to build trust with them before they come through the door.”
Watch: How the Ask a Question Feature Helps You Better Connect to Shoppers.
Superstore Receives More Qualified Buyers with Texting Tool
Big Sandy discovered by adding the Ask a Question chat-to-text tool online, they doubled the amount of leads ready to talk to a sales person. The online shoppers who used the Ask a Question texting feature almost always engage with multiple other experiences on the website as well, often taking a break from browsing to ask a question that relates to an experience they just completed, such as requesting types of finishes stocked in the showroom for their chosen appliance.
While it increases consumer engagement, Scott says it’s attracting more qualified buyers, too. He says customers of all ages engage with the interactive texting box once they realize how efficient the process is for getting information quickly from a local store — and not some robot auto-response that’s sure to fill your smartphone with spam.
“Everybody wants to text now. … We’re actively closing those deals and taking those customers through the buying process.”
Bryan Scott, Big Sandy President
“Everybody wants to text now. The requests that come in are much more effective. They’re not just asking one question and then disengaging with the chat agent,” Scott says of text leads over live chat. “When they have an interest in something on our website, when they click on it and they’re actually engaging with it, they’re serious. We’re actively closing those deals and taking those customers through the buying process.”
The texting technology responds instantaneously to a consumer’s initial request using artificial intelligence technology, then a real human takes it from there to deliver personalized, timely responses and carry on an online conversation with the potential customer. With this new approach, Big Sandy downsized its online chat team by one person to make it a more focused group of chat sales specialists.
“We are seeing the conversions, and we’ve actually been able to more efficiently staff our chat team because the leads are so highly engaged,” Scott says. “They’re a higher level of chat agent, because these are actually more of a warm-to-hot lead. They’re able to work closely with those customers and close those deals.”
Scott contributes part of that success to the “super powerful” AI-driven analytics reporting and consumer tracking capabilities that drive a high level of execution inside the store, keeping the sales professionals accountable and actively engaged with online leads even when the showroom floor slows down. On average, Big Sandy Superstore sees more than $1.6 million a month in sales influenced by PERQ.
“PERQ gives us a much better way to follow up with the people who come to our website and get them into the store,” says Van Hoose. “It provides better information about the customer and what they’re searching for, and gets that information into the hands of our sales team, who can follow up locally and complete the transaction.”
With a loyal customer base, fourth-generation business Steinhafels works to stay current with how customers are shopping for furniture. “Our beautiful showrooms and expert sales staff set us apart from other retailers, so getting online shoppers into our brick-and-mortar stores is a main goal for us,” says Dani Dagenhardt, Digital Marketing Coordinator at Steinhafels.
Founded in 1934, the retailer continues to find new ways to bring consumers to any one of their 18 locations in Wisconsin and Illinois. “This year, we have a lot of digital initiatives. We are getting out of paper – that’s where the majority of our budget has been,” Dagenhardt says. “Digital is where people are now. That’s where their eyes are, and we use the information we are getting to merge that digital arena with our brick and mortar.”
In the first 90 days of utilizing web conversion software and AI-driven Email Nurture Program that re-targets website visitors, Steinhafels averaged over 2,000 website leads per month, with an online lead-to-sale conversion rate of over 13%. “Our managers are happy with the leads we are getting” says Dagenhardt. Ultimately, her investment paid off, bringing in more than $1.9 million in showroom sales attributed to their website.
Leveraging Website data helps build relationships before customers come in-store
Now, drawing customers into an expansive 100,000-square-foot retail space often begins with a phone, computer or tablet. With this digital approach, Steinhafels stores gain important insights, such as the customer’s preferred sofa and design style, and learn exactly where a customer is in their buying journey before the customer ever steps foot into the store.
Showroom photo courtesy of Steinhafels
The data Steinhafels collected on their website revealed 74% of shoppers said they were researching or narrowing their options and 20% were ready to buy right away.
This data shows that Steinhafel’s is successful with digital engagement for shoppers at all stages of the buying process. Steinhafels was able to use this insight into their website traffic to prioritize their sales team’s time personalizing follow up communication for “ready to buy” leads and applying personalized marketing nurturing to others.
Staying top of mind by re-engaging customers online
For leads that have gone quiet, Steinhafel’s investment in digital has enabled them to re-engage. “Being able to contact the people who visit our website has been incredible,” says Dagenhardt. “Reminder emails keep Steinhafels top of mind and are a great way to get a prospective customer back into the buying funnel.”
“During slower times, it is really helpful for our salespeople to reach customers pre-shopping online. Any chance to get a potential customer in the store to talk to our sales team is a greater chance for a sale.”
When people come in for their in-store meeting, our sales team already knows significant information about the customer’s furniture interests and needs, making it easier for the sales associate to find the customer their perfect product.
Dani Dagenhardt, Digital Marketing Coordinator
Dagenhardt says. In-store sales associates now know exactly what type of home furnishings the customer searched for online and personal information extracted during the interactive assessments on the store’s website, like their preferred design style or ideal type of recliner.
“When people come in for their in-store meeting, our sales team already knows significant information about the customer’s furniture interests and needs, making it easier for the sales associate to find the customer their perfect product,” Dagenhardt says.
By combining PERQ into their digital initiatives, Steinhafels has been able to see actionable sales opportunities coming from the website, proving that the transition to digital is both better for the sales team, and profitable.
Gallery Furniture needed a way to make their website more effective to compete with online giants, increase online leads, improve lead management and ultimately close more sales. Dan Marchione, analytics director, says it meant taking a fresh look at their digital marketing strategy in March 2017. They dedicated a “ton of resources and man-hours” into learning the best steps to make improvements, he says.
Marchione says they then implemented website conversion software to provide customers with enhanced online experiences that are both inviting and informative, which has been key to their success. “The software gives us a lot of useful information [about customers] and it’s very effective,” Marchione says.
With three locations in Texas, Gallery Furniture now receives an average of 2,123 new leads per month, compared to the 120 leads per month they were getting before changing their digital marketing strategy. In response to the lead increase, the company utilized the new consumer insights to personalize the way they follow up with shoppers to close more sales.
“The numbers are mind-boggling. Just the amount of leads that we’re getting now, and the ROI that we’re able to track. It’s just phenomenal,” says Marchione, who says they see a 12%+ lead- to-sale conversion. “We’ve started getting so many leads that we’ve actually had to staff up and add people who just chase those leads down. Just last week, one of those individuals converted $108,000 in sales. That’s out of a team of four, so that’s pretty good ROI in a week.”
Gallery Sales Team Uses Data for Personalized Lead Follow-Up
Our sales team has the ammunition they need to follow up with new leads in a more powerful way than we ever had before.
Dan Marchione, Gallery Furniture Analytics Director
“If all the members on the digital leads team are busy and we have a stack of leads to follow up on, we still hand those out to other associates, especially on the weekdays. Too many leads is a good problem to have… and you should follow up with as many as you can.”
Gallery Furniture is now able to track the customer’s journey on their website, which has led to insights that helps their sales team turn online visitors to in-store sales. “Our sales team has the ammunition they need to follow up with new leads in a more powerful way than we ever had before,” Marchione says.
Sales staff take the leads and send personalized emails to those consumers with more information directly related to what they searched for on the website. The map of the customer’s online journey “tells you exactly what they were looking at before they did the engagement experience and after,” he says. “Then [the salespeople] send personalized, follow-up emails and make phone calls. It’s just remarkable how effective that is.”
Gallery Follows Up with Leads in a Timely Manner
Almost 72% of the Gallery leads say they are in the beginning or middle of their research when they’re looking for home furnishings, so effectively communicating and adding a personal touch to the way their sales team is following up helps to drive more people to one of their stores.
The sales staff reaches customers at the right time — when they are actually shopping for a mattress or sofa set. “It seems like the quicker we’re able to reply, the more we get,” Marchione says, adding that the “What’s My Design Style?” interactive experience has proved to be popular with customers.
Watch: James & Dan talk about the increase in leads and sales from partnering with PERQ.
The company has averaged 470 monthly registrations by helping customers define their design style. If the lead chooses to sign up for a design consultation after taking the quiz, Gallery Furniture sends a decorator to their home for the consultation. “It’s generated some phenomenal sales,” Marchione says. “Just in the last 30 days, one customer made two purchases over $33,000 each, and several others ranged from $10,000 to $30,000.”
Digital Marketing Allows Gallery Furniture to Compete with Online Giants
When Gallery Furniture started experiencing declining sales due to online companies like Amazon and Wayfair, the company realized it needed to change its business model and ramp up its digital marketing efforts. Implementing PERQ web conversion software has definitely changed the way Gallery Furniture conducts business today. “Old-school marketing is not nearly as effective as digital marketing,” Marchione says of the biggest lesson learned.
“Brick and mortar retail is in a fight for its life right now,” Marchione says. “Here in Houston, Amazon just opened a distribution center designed to deliver packages weighing up to 300 pounds. If we can’t be as competent as the big online retailers, then our days are numbered.”
Before making changes to their digital marketing strategy, Marchione says they couldn’t track anonymous visitors on their website to those shoppers coming to the store and making a purchase. Being able to do that now, engaging with consumers online better and increasing time on site by 6X, along with a more personalized lead follow up plan, has resulted in the in-store foot traffic that Gallery was looking to achieve.
“We can’t track the ROI of the newspaper ads or the TV commercials, but you sure can when you get the actual PERQ lead form, and that turns into personal, identifiable information,” Marchione says. “Tons of those leads are converting. I wish we would have found this software 12 months earlier.”
In the first weekend of having PERQ software live on the Furniture Distributors’ website, Jill Thigpen said her initial fear about not seeing a return on her investment was alleviated. The store’s marketing director had heard about PERQ six months prior at a Furniture First National Buying Group performance event, but says she wasn’t ready to invest her digital marketing budget. “I’ve made investments before that didn’t produce results,” she says, recalling her hesitancy.
Once Thigpen talked to a PERQ client, however, who shared his excitement over having to hire a new employee to manage the influx of PERQ leads, she decided to test the software. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s a good problem to have.’ We pulled the trigger, and in the first weekend we had $10,000 from PERQ leads. That was exciting. It certainly is paying for itself.”
As a Furniture First member since 1996, Thigpen has been active on committees and engaged with the performance group, and says she also shares her excitement with them about the results she’s seen with PERQ. “It has been a gamechanger and it’s one of the reasons why I’m a proponent when talking to my Furniture First buddies. I know they will see the benefit, too.”
Furniture Distributors, with six locations in North Carolina, has been using PERQ since November, and Thigpen says seeing the connection of online visitors to in-store sales has proven to be the best benefit overall. “I can validate what shoppers were looking at online and confirm they came here and made a purchase. The typical customer is using our website as a touchpoint throughout their path to purchase.”
As Thigpen thinks about her marketing efforts as a whole, she says she’ll be investing more on digital advertising to get more people to the website. “Before PERQ, there wasn’t a push to send someone to our website. PERQ has become the middlemen to my salesperson. They’ve created a connection with the shopper online so we have a stronger chance to turn them into a qualified customer. Once I get them to the website, the PERQ product does its job.”
Some of the PERQ interactive experiences helping to turn online visitor to leads and ultimately sales include a New Customer Welcome, Design Style Assessment, Special Pricing, Scratch & Save Offer Reveal, Sofa Assessment and Mattress Assessment. “With PERQ, I get genuine leads. People are willing to give us their real information because we provided a meaningful experience for them on our website.”
Thigpen says some furniture retailers might think they’d already get those leads from visitors landing on their website, so they won’t invest in a solution like PERQ. That’s a mistake she says: “We’ve seen the lift in number of leads.” Furniture Distributors went from 16 leads to 133 per month.
They’re also increasing the time spent on the Furniture Distributor’s website by 348% — from an average 2 minutes and 49 seconds (before PERQ) to 15 minutes and 54 seconds (with PERQ), while also increase pages per session per visitor from almost 6 to over 16. With increased engagement, Furniture Distributors has also seen a lift in sales. Their average monthly lead to sale conversion with PERQ is at almost 20%. “An average of $46k in sales a month with PERQ is pretty impressive,” Thigpen says.
“PERQ is something I wouldn’t want to be without,” she adds. “I love the product. It’s one of the best we’ve added to the mix. I’m very pleased with results, but I did get a little jealous when I saw it on a competitor’s website.”