The Great American Home Store tried “doing a little bit of everything” to market their stores, including traditional advertising on TV and radio ads, as well as digital marketing tactics like email promotions, display advertising and basic contact forms on the website. The main lesson the team learned as they’ve steadily grown over the past 15 years: Stick to what you’re good at and start with the basics, then add from there.
“Focus on your sales funnel and website first,” says Justin Bowen, Great American’s Web Content Manager. “Stores start to lose sight of who they are and what they do to help the customer every day. We’ve made that mistake and see others make it all of the time.”
The Great American Home Store, established in 2004, is a locally owned and operated full-line home furnishings company with five locations in Tennessee and Mississippi. The two main locations each feature roughly 60,000 square feet of showroom space and 80,000 square feet of warehouse storage, delivering consumers with convenient and quality one-stop shopping.
In the past few years, the home furnishings retailer has focused its digital marketing efforts on delivering the same level of service on their website that customers receive in the showrooms. “We offer hometown-level service with big-box selection and availability,” Bowen says. “When we recentered on our strengths, we have a lot of advantages over e-commerce giants and our competition — a lot we can lean into and put our efforts toward.”
By adding PERQ’s Marketing Cloud, powered by artificial intelligence, including interactive website experiences and a live “Ask a Question” feature, Great American instantly starts building a relationship with online shoppers. They provide personalized service and intelligent guidance to find exactly the right product to match their customers’ needs — just as a sales representative would do in the store.
In early 2017, the Great American Home Store updated their website with conversion software that includes helpful interactive quizzes and tools, making the shopping decision easier for consumers. The store collect valuable information from the website interactions, including the customer’s type of home, their ideal design style, current home projects, where they’re at in the buying process and their budget for purchasing new furniture.
The sales teams, along with PERQ’s automated email nurture system, convert more leads by using the website data to deliver personalized, relevant and timely emails that makes Great American stand out among the competition.
“We gained access to a lot more customer data, giving us more opportunities to talk with those customers and engage more on a one-on-one level that we didn’t have before,” Bowen says. “We found not all of them are ready to talk to us and have a sales conversation. But when they do come into the store, ready to make a purchase, they buy more.”
Great American not only increased the amount of customer data collected through the website, the retailer also increased the amount of leads from the website. Before, they received 150 to 200 website leads per month from customers who signed up for store emails or registered via an online form asking for more information on a product.
Between December 2018 and June 2019, GAHS collected more than 5,000 unique PERQ leads online and converted 18.34% of those, equaling over $2.1 million in sales. Time spent on the Great American website also increased, averaging over 15 minutes per PERQ lead, compared to the average 4 minutes and 23 seconds for all website visitors.
“We really did start to see incredible growth in a short amount of time. In particular, we saw an increase in the amount of engagement with customers,” Bowen says. “The experiences are helpful and fun, and deliver real value to our customers.”
Great American found customers who engage online through the website experiences are more likely to convert into an in-store sale, and they spend $200 to $400 more per ticket on average. That’s partly because the customer feels more confident in their purchasing decision after engaging with the AI-powered website to narrow their choices.
“We’ve been just blown away by the results,” Bowen says. “It’s definitely driving the number of conversions and the quality of conversions. Customers are engaging more with us.”
Watch: Another retailer with similar results speaks about value of PERQ product.
Bowen says the increase in website leads forced Great American to reevaluate the store’s entire sales funnel and closely analyze how the sales teams approached the shopping experience from beginning to end. Since mapping out a lead nurture process for every stage of the consumer’s online buying journey, the sales teams can now successfully utilize the consumer information they collect on the website when following up with leads.
“Think about how you proactively help consumers and respond to what they need,” Bowen suggests to other retailers looking for new ways to engage with online shoppers. “Look for holes in your strategy. Pull your customers through that purchasing process; they shouldn’t be pushing your staff to deliver answers or respond. Operate in a way that’s helpful and proactive. It’s all about individualized service, all sales are conversational.”
Getting rich customer information will help you make better decisions and make a better website for your customers, Bowen adds. “PERQ is one of the best options out there. It’s a one-to-one conversational world. You can’t do that if you don’t know who your customer is. If your system doesn’t know them like a salesperson would in store, you’re going to be missing opportunities.”