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Retailers Receive Excellence Awards At FurnitureDealer.Net User Conference

Furniture World News Desk on 9/21/2015

FurnitureDealer.Net reported that forty-eight retail executives representing 30 leading furniture retailers from the U.S. and Canada joined the FurnitureDealer.Net team at FurnitureDealer.Net headquarters outside Minneapolis, Minnesota August 31st – September 2nd for an intensive three-day conference.

The theme of this year’s event was CONNECT. According to FurnitureDealer.Net founder Andy Bernstein, “We chose the theme CONNECT because today's consumers are knowledgeable, empowered shoppers who are constantly connected via their devices to any touchpoint you create. To compete, retailers need to optimize every part of their business—people, technology, partnerships—to attract and keep these ever-connected consumers. This involves defining an omnichannel vision to create awesome experiences for consumers along their journey to purchase, connecting data, staying up to date on best practices and more.” The conference also strengthened connections among retailers who networked and learned from each other during idea-sharing sessions.

According to Bernstein, it’s no longer good enough for retailers to simply meet customers’ expectations. “In the connected economy it’s becoming increasingly vital to convert satisfied customers into advocates who evangelize about your company with their social network. That means every interaction a customer has with your company needs to be a ‘Wow!’ experience,” said Bernstein. This depends on employees who are dedicated to delighting customers and empowered to act accordingly. The user conference focused on helping retailers strengthen connections with their employees. In preparation for the conference, attendees took assessments to identify their greatest strengths. At the conference they analyzed results and received training to implement the tool at their companies to strengthen relationships with employees and ensure they’re in roles that play to their strengths. View the user conference summary here.

Eight retailers received awards of excellence during the conference. “We wanted to recognize clients whose innovative work in omnichannel retailing is groundbreaking in our industry,” said Bernstein. “So we created ‘Badass Awards’ in recognition of their excellence. The term Badass captures the spirit of formidable excellence and pathfinding in uncharted waters that deserves special recognition,” according to Bernstein. Award winners include:

1. Excellence in Online Merchandising – Reeds Furniture, Agoura Hills CA: Reeds strives to inspire shoppers to create beautiful homes. So they organized merchandise on their website into The Shops at Reeds—lifestyle-specific departments such as Surf Shop, Hollywood Glam Shop and French Laundry Shop. Reeds curates each Shop with relevant merchandise that brings each lifestyle to life. Curating products from FurnitureDealer.Net’s online catalogs allows Reeds to create lifestyle segments with their own unique voice and personality. Reeds extended this strategy on their Pinterest page, adding visually inspiring photos to each Shop. Reeds integrated their Pinterest Shops into their corresponding website Shops so website visitors can see the inspiration behind each lifestyle theme.

2. Excellence in Online Customer Assistance – Dunk & Bright Furniture, Syracuse NY: Dunk & Bright is obsessed with customer service. Their goal is to deliver a consistent, high quality experience across all consumer touch points, regardless of how shoppers choose to engage with the store. Dunk & Bright has made a significant investment to improve the shopper experience, including hiring and training two full-time eCommerce Sales/Marketing Specialists who manage interactions with shoppers via phone, chat, website, email and social media. They also help ensure a smooth handoff of shoppers to appropriate customer-facing staff within Dunk & Bright.

3. Excellence in Online Advertising – Rotmans, Worcester MA: Rotmans is the largest furniture and flooring store in New England. For their biggest promotional event of the year Rotmans wanted to increase online sales in addition to in-store sales. So they supplemented their offline advertising (print and television) with online advertising that featured a digital coupon that could be redeemed in their website’s shopping cart. The campaign exceeded their expectations, generating record website traffic and online sales mix (ecommerce represented 15% of total revenue during the event).

4. Excellence in Communicating Merchandise Availability Online – Del Sol Furniture, Phoenix AZ: Del Sol wanted to improve the user experience of its omnichannel shoppers by making it easier to see the availability status of merchandise displayed on their website. So Del Sol piloted a program to integrate warehouse availability status feeds from several of their suppliers into their website. The availability status of these brands is automatically updated daily. Shoppers can also narrow their search by availability to browse all products within a category or just those that are on display in stores, special order, express special order (available within a week), or out of stock. This strategy has increased the sales mix of in-stock merchandise, and increased ecommerce revenue.

5. Excellence in Online Reputation Management – Belfort Furniture, Sterling VA: Getting customers to post online reviews about their experience with the store is a top priority for Belfort. Their salespeople are trained to request reviews from customers at the point of sale. Customers also receive reminders via email. And it works. Belfort receives significantly more customer reviews than local competitors across search engines, social media and review sites. Belfort has earned higher satisfaction ratings than competitors and the bulk of their reviews are positive from customers who are satisfied.

6. Excellence in Online Differentiation – Van Hill Furniture, Holland MI: Van Hill has the largest showroom in their trading area. It’s an important differentiator—Van Hill displays a much broader selection than competitors. They want website visitors to have the same experience as bricks-and-mortar visitors. So Van Hill brought their physical store into their website by producing an “Experience Van Hill” video to show and tell their story online. The video features actual staff and customers rather than professional actors to demonstrate the store. The storytelling effect is a unique personality in an authentic voice.

7. Excellence in Engaging Paid Traffic – Baer’s Furniture, Pompano Beach FL: Baer’s continues to shift an increasing share of its advertising budget from offline to online media to align with consumers’ evolving media usage. One of their goals is to minimize their paid bounce rate—the percentage of shoppers who leave Baer’s website immediately after clicking an online ad. In order to keep these visitors on their website so they’ll browse products, Baer’s strives to create landing pages on their site that are highly relevant to the message of each online ad. This makes it easier for visitors to find what they expect when they click on the ad. Baer’s strategy has increased the efficiency of their online advertising.

8. Excellence in Online Visual Communication – Morris Home Furnishings, Dayton OH: Morris wants to enable visitors to its website to browse the same inventory on display in their bricks and mortar showrooms. One of the challenges is that manufacturers don’t always provide photography for all the fabrics and models Morris floors, especially love seats. So Morris built a photo studio in their warehouse and created a process to stage and photograph every upholstered product as they’re unloaded into the warehouse, while minimizing disruption to their operation. Products are shot at specific angles, resulting in a clean, consistent look and feel when browsing merchandise online. The number of in-store loveseats displayed on Morris’ website increased nearly 900%.

About FurnitureDealer.Net: FurnitureDealer.Net helps independent home furnishings retailers develop and implement successful omnichannel growth strategies that convert online furniture shoppers into local buyers. Clients include many of the 150 largest and most successful home furnishings retailers, including four of the past five NAHFA Retailers of the Year. FurnitureDealer.Net provides a world class website platform, publishes and maintains rich, up-to-date product catalogs for over 500 brands, and helps clients succeed with business consulting, internet marketing and merchandising support. FurnitureDealer.Net also facilitates idea-sharing forums where a community of clients help each other solve problems and innovate. For more information visit www.furnituredealer.net.