Winning Website Tip #1 From PERQ
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“There are a wide variety of voices screaming out to consumers, so I’m a big fan of making sure a retailer’s website is used as a megaphone,” says Bob Lapointe, CEO of Tailbase, a web solution and digital marketing company. “Advertise the opportunities they’ll have if they shop here. A lot of sites today, there’s nothing on the home page that engages me.”
Kurt Strasser, account executive at Knorr Marketing, which specializes in marketing home furnishings retailers, echos that advice on how to stand out among other furniture and mattress store websites.
“Consumers are bombarded with messages every day. Studies show that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day,” Strasser says. “You need to find a way to entice and engage the consumer so that they choose to shop with you. The average attention span of the consumer is eight seconds, so you need to grab their attention right away and keep it.”
So, how exactly do you seize a potential customer’s attention when they’re researching furniture online and then keep them on your website to increase the likelihood of an actual purchase? The answer lies in implementing interactive technology, combined with some basic marketing techniques. Here are some specific ideas on how to improve the website experience for furniture shoppers.
Personalize the Furniture Website Experience
When you examine top internet brands around the world like Nike, Amazon and Ticketmaster, their websites remember each returning shopper, customize the website experience based on the each shopper’s behavior, and serve up relevant content related precisely to what they’re seeking.
“One of the things our research found is that if you ask people to do redundant activities, it drives down engagement and conversions,” says National Sales Director Doug Stump at PERQ, a software company that utilizes artificial intelligence to remember visitors and serve up the next best steps in the shopping process. “The personalization the top brands offer, that’s what we offer, too. We bring that technology to retailers to give them that same level of personalized service that we know increases conversions to purchase.”
If a shopper visited your furniture store and talked to a salesperson for 20 minutes, then left and returned with his wife the next day, that salesperson wouldn’t act like they’ve never met the customer before. Extend the same level of customer service you demonstrate in your store to the website. Greet return visitors by name, direct them to exactly what they’re interested in, and never show a call to action or ask for the same information more than once.
Nurture the Customer Relationship to Build Trust
While it’s easier to build a relationship with consumers in person, incorporating technology that allows for personalization gives online shoppers the same sense that a furniture or mattress store already knows them and truly cares about keeping them as a customer.
“It’s about establishing trust online. Value that trust to nurture the relationship,” Lapointe says. “The more time a customer spends on a website, the better impression they get and the more likely they are to end up in your store.”
Help Consumers Research and Guide Them Along
The majority of shoppers who visit a furniture store website aren’t ready to buy, according to PERQ data. “They’re actually more in research mode,” Stump says. “They want some help and guidance, and in a lot of cases they’re looking to do that without having to engage with a salesperson.”
Offer interactive experiences and furniture, mattress or appliance assessments on the website to help shoppers determine the best product for them and narrow their choices. Make website navigation intuitive and direct them to the products they’re interested in, and even serve up custom incentives based on how they engage with the site.
All of these steps are sure to increase engagement and customer satisfaction, as well as in-store sales. Guiding an online shopper moves them down the sales funnel by helping the customer feel more prepared for a purchase. “If done the right way, AI technology and guided shopping can really help retailers engage with consumers,” Lapointe says. “People want to feel special.”
Deliver Direct Value to Consumers
A furniture retailer can differentiate themselves from the competition by showing the direct value consumers get by shopping there. “When people go to a website, they’re trying to make decisions on which retailer showroom they’re going to go to because they’re not driving to six or seven stores,” Stump says.
Incentives customized to a consumer’s needs are a very powerful way to convert online traffic to in-store sales. Don’t offer a blanketed promotion on the website that seems irrelevant to what the online shopper wants to buy; if a shopper is searching sofas, they don’t want to see a pop-up coupon for bedroom furniture. Instead, use software that serves up interactive incentives personalized for individual shoppers. Be sure to always keep those offers up to date.
“Keeping the content current with items available in store and not having the right promotional message for the current offer offered at the store,” are two common mistakes that retailers make, says Strasser at Knorr Marketing. “It’s important to be relevant online in comparison to your store,” he adds.
While including pricing information has become more commonplace in the online shopping arena of Amazon and Wayfair, it’s not enough to simply list a price. Clearly communicate if it’s a discount or offers a savings compared to other furniture and mattress retailers. “Putting pricing is extremely important, but you must show the value proposition you’re giving consumers,” Lapointe says. “What are they going to save by going to your store?”
Continuously Improve the Furniture Website
Consumers don’t waste time with bad websites and first impressions matter. “Most of your customers will visit your website before coming to the store,” Strasser says. “So, these days your website is your first impression.”
No matter how a retailer’s website stacks up to the competition, all websites need to be regularly updated and revamped. It’s a never-ending process, just like updating the showroom.
“A bad website is worse than having none at all,” Lapointe says. “A good website will create more in-store traffic if it’s compelling for consumers.”
More about PERQ: PERQ (www.perq.com), boosts website conversion through its online guided shopping solution which leverages artificial intelligence to dynamically change existing websites to deliver the next best step in each buyer’s shopping journey. As experts in online consumer engagement and behavior, PERQ leverages over 10 million consumer data points, along with real-time visitor behavior.
Founded in 2001, PERQ solutions are used by more than 1,000 businesses in the home furnishing, auto retailing and multifamily industries. Its brands have been named to the Inc. “500 Fastest Growing Companies in America” list on three separate occasions. In 2017, PERQ won the Gold Stevie® Award for lead generation software and Product of the Year in the Big Business Awards.
Winning Website Engagement Tips From PERQ
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