“We sell products that people just won’t buy online”. “My customers like to touch and feel our products before they buy”. “We have so many options to choose from, it’s almost impossible to buy what we sell online.” These are statements you might have made yourself a few years ago, but none of these concern the home furnishing business!
The previous statements are thoughts of people in the grocery business. After all, who wants someone picking out their peaches for them, and who would want to miss the opportunity to squeeze their own Charmin? But, again, that internet webby thing has encroached into another field dominated by businesses that thought they were impervious to the online wave.
According to a study reported in USA Today, SIX PERCENT of all US Household had an online grocery home delivery in the last 30 days. Coincidentally, that six percent is equal to the number of mattresses sold online! Sure, Amazon and Wal-Mart are in the game, but also upstart Instacart and a revived Peapod are in the game. Overall average purchase per delivery is $95.
For the last year I have been preaching about how, in the second decade of this century, the tide has changed in retail. Price is now secondary to CONVENIENCE when your shopper makes their decision. Online Groceries prove this point even further. Charging between $9.95 and $14.95 for delivery (either by stop or monthly subscription) those grocery guys are collecting more in fees than most of you are getting on a King Pillow-Top with adjustable base! And delivery fees are just the start. In the USA Today article shoppers report knowing that they are paying 25 cent to a buck more per item compared to in-store prices, and that advertised store specials may not apply.
This may be amazing to those of us who grew up with parents that agonized over buying Campbell’s Tomato Soup when it was 3 cents more than the house brand! Apparently now, TIME is the most expensive commodity in our households-even more valuable than money!
I am not writing this article to convert you to Click to Cart. More importantly, now is the time to design a plan to add, and promote CONVENIENCE as the most important product on your shelf.
Your shoppers are willing to have someone else choose the tomatoes and cantaloupes they will put in their yap, and even choose the standing rib roast or Tofurky that they will serve to guests next Friday night. Maybe-just maybe-she is ready for you to pick the mattress they want, after asking them a few simple questions.
Imagine, if you will, offering a 3 minute phone consultation with your shopper where you ask her the same basic questions you would ask anyone walking in your store. Based on the caller’s answers you would present three solutions in three different price points, including a recommendation on flat or adjustable bases, and then quote an all-inclusive price. Next, you would offer her a two hour delivery window based on her preference. Then you would take her credit card and complete the sale.
There may even be a chance that she is torn between deciding on two different mattress sets. You could even bring both of them to her house and let her test rest them on the spot, and leave the one she likes best. If she is undecided about purchasing the adjustable base you could offer a 10 day exchange-if she doesn’t love the custom comfort of the adjustable base, you would exchange it for the flat base, and refund the difference.
All of that, and she never walked into your store! All on her time schedule and at her convenience and all for her comfort. Or maybe this just won’t work. Or perhaps it’s too risky or expensive. Or just imagine the effect on your business if someone else in your area started marketing this ultra-convenience package in your area today.
Gordon Hecht is a Senior Manager for Serta Simmons Bedding’s Strategic Retail Group comprising over 400 locally owned and operated bedding stores across the country selling Serta Simmons branded and America’s Mattress-branded mattresses. He started his 30+ years’ experience in the Home Furnishings industry in Las Vegas, NV as a delivery helper and driver, later moving to sales and management.
He has served as with other organizations as Store Manager, Multi-unit manager and National Director of Sales. With his first-hand knowledge of our industry’s front line, Gordon has devoted his career to guiding others to exceed their goals.
He has been recognized for outstanding sales and management achievement with Ashley Furniture HomeStores, Drexel-Heritage, RB Furniture, Reliable Stores, and Sofa Express.
Co-author of the “Better Bedding Selling Tips” featured on Furniture World Online, Gordon has been a frequent contributor to company newsletters, and contributing writer for industry magazines.
Read other articles by Gordon Hecht
Furniture Industry News and in depth magazine articles for the furniture retail, furniture manufacturers, and furniture distributors.
Read other articles by Gordon Hecht