Convince shoppers who are already in the market to buy, to visit your
store. Here are seven traffic sources and 10 ways to boost your numbers.
In busy and slow times, there are serious consumers who are in the market to
purchase home furnishings. These prospects are the main source of digital
and in-store traffic. However, any retailer’s traffic numbers will vary
depending on the state of their regional economy. During housing booms, all
other things being more or less equal, those numbers will increase. Right
now, fewer people are in the market to buy due to high interest rates,
inflation and the end of the multi-year COVID-related furniture demand.
My article in the May/June edition of Furniture World (https://www.furninfo.com/furniture-world-articles/4056) focused on increasing SPG (sales per guest) and how retailers can do more
with the traffic they already get. Here, the focus will be on bringing in
First, let’s consider seven sources that generate buyer traffic.
“No matter how much traffic is down from the ‘COVID bubble,’ THERE IS STILL
TRAFFIC! Keep in mind that shoppers who do not buy today, will likely buy
Location Traffic. Every retailer knows that higher
traffic levels are driven by “A” type locations that are highly visible
to passersby, especially from major roads with easy access near other
high traffic-generating stores. When more people are already in the
market to buy, a greater portion will notice your store and decide to
visit. Location is one of those factors that cannot easily be changed to
maximize exposure. However, improving signage, building exteriors, and
any other attention attracting elements can help generate traffic.
Past Traffic. Traffic is generated by past customers
who will think of you first—when they are in the market to buy—if
they’ve had previous satisfying buying experiences with your store.
These customers already know how to find you, so your location is not
usually a factor. Those who have had an average experience may visit you
again. People who were unimpressed or who had sub-par experiences will
likely visit a competitor.
Referrals and Reviews. Traffic is generated by
customers’ referrals to neighbors, friends and family. Positive reviews
published in traditional media and online will, as well, cause new
customers to seek out your store. Word of mouth marketing has always
been a powerful influencer of traffic.
“Smart retailers are continually getting better at using private events to
generate traffic that results in sales.”
Mass Marketing. Traffic generated from mass marketing
messages such as email blasts, TV and direct mail give potential buyers
a reason to visit. Unfortunately, many home furnishings retailers
continue to allocate most of their advertising budget to marketing
“sales” promotions to attract customers without regard to local market
conditions. It may be unwise. When there is a housing boom and a healthy
economy in an area, there will naturally be more consumers in the market
for home furnishings. Thus, general marketing, digital and traditional,
will produce better results. Conversely, in a slower economy, a flexible
budget and a more targeted approach may be better since the same
investment for mass campaigns will produce less traffic.
Personal Relationships. Traffic is generated by
personal relationships and communications of value. People prefer to buy
from companies they know, like and have personal relationships with.
Retailers whose teams focus on cultivating these long-term relationships
and keep in touch with their customers with the right messaging at the
right time produce more traffic.
Digital Presence. Traffic is generated by having a
robust digital presence on websites and social media.
Competitive Stores. Strong and aggressive competitors
will reduce your market share and lure away past customers who might
have visited you first. Weak competitors can create traffic for your
operation if they make a lot of noise that convinces people that they
need to shop for home furnishings.
“Make use of personalized digital technology to survey your customers about
their next purchase timeline. This will allow marketing software to send
reminders to customers and help salespeople.”
10 Ways To More Traffic
Keeping in mind the seven reasons for traffic, here are 10 ways to generate
additional traffic from consumers who are already in the market to purchase.
Community Relationships. Most furniture and mattress
stores get the highest percentage of sales from seating, mattresses,
beds, and tables. High-performing organizations do a better job of
selling add-on items such as protection, adjustable bases, rugs,
pillows, lighting, accents, and accessories. Their average ticket per
customer is higher as is their SPG. And, although not true for all
organizations, businesses that offer financing terms typically produce
higher average tickets and close rates as well.
Charity Partnerships. Getting behind one or more
charities is almost always a win-win-win. Giving away or matching a
portion of proceeds to worthy causes helps the recipient, generates
press coverage, builds your brand image and makes customers feel good
about doing business with your organization.
Complementary Partnerships. Partnerships and cross
marketing with realtors, mortgage brokers, contractors, and
apartment/condo rental businesses need to be constantly managed and
cultivated. Consistent dialogue and communication are the keys to
success. Dollar matching programs with partner businesses work well for
many retailers. The idea is to give a credit amount for gift
certificates they purchase to give away. Retailers that are the most
successful with these types of pro-grams create a separate communication
list within their marketing database to send automatic thank you emails
and routine communications. And, to get the consumers’ information, you
should require digital registration: this way, you can communicate
directly with those that have the gift certificate.
Managing Open Sales. The process of following up on and
delivering open sales is a headache for many furniture retailers, but it
can also be an opportunity. Post-sale delivery communications, for
example, are an opportunity to let customers know how they can make
their purchases even better. Suggest that they add an adjustable base to
their mattress purchase, a rug for a living room furniture purchase, and
peace of mind (protection) for unprotected products. Communicate this
extra value with a combination of digital-triggered automation and a
Next-Purchase Customers. Communicating with your best
customers—the ones who purchase multiple times, or who spend the most—is
another key to building store traffic. That’s why it’s important to
install a next-purchase traffic generating system. The old-school method
used before the introduction of advanced digital technology was to have
individual salespeople ask their clients about their room improvement
projects, then write down that information. Although this is still a
necessary first step, it’s not always dependable to rely on salespeople
to follow up at the right time, every time. Make use of personalized
digital technology to survey your customers about their next-purchase
timeline. This will allow marketing software to send reminders to
customers and help salespeople. Automated suggestions can aid and
improve the customer’s continued shopping experience.
Similar to next-purchase communication, salespeople should follow up
with customers regarding their past purchases. In addition to making
sure that they are satisfied with their delivered items, review pictures
taken by delivery or design staff of customers’ rooms post-delivery.
Also, communicate (via email, sms, voice) with customers at scheduled
times—perhaps at one month, six months and one year after delivery.
Past-purchase automated follow up communication is made more effective
by adding personalized details.
Create different messages that depend on what was purchased. For
Notify customers who purchased a “no use, no lose protection plan”
five years ago that they can apply the full amount toward 50% off
any new bedding or furniture purchase.
If a customer made a previous purchase from a well-known vendor, and
that vendor has an important new introduction, you may want to
communicate that. If you have a loyalty program, include that
customer’s point balance with this message.
If your marketing database contains additional useful information
such as customers’ birthdays, likes and dislikes, children living at
home and any other relevant lifestyle profiling, use that
information to create highly targeted communications.
Private Events. VIP events have been around since I
joined the industry many years ago. However, smart retailers are
continually getting better at using private events to generate traffic
that results in sales. Here are some best practices:
Schedule events on Thursdays or Fridays. Avoid weekends (as these are
already busy days).
- Require buy-in from your entire organization.
Ask each salesperson to make a specified number of generally scripted
telephone calls that explain the offer and the value of attending the
Require each of these sales associates to schedule a specified number
Right before an event, send a final text or e-mail to a targeted
audience of past customers.
Provide Value Content. Review your websites and social
media platforms regularly to make sure they include complete and timely
information that will attract prospects and past customers. Most
furniture websites are static with respect to non-inventory content. To
shoppers, many retailers’ sites look virtually identical to one another.
Retailers who want to set their operation apart should put effort and
creativity into their platforms. Consider dedicating a portion of your
website to dynamic content, traditionally known as blogging. You can
post pictures, write about design trends, highlight room plans, showcase
products and discuss lifestyle trends. If you do this consistently, you
will generate a tighter following as time goes by.
Use QR Codes. QR codes are an excellent way to provide
convenient and necessary information to lead your audience down a
desired path. Once scanned, the QR redirects to a specific predetermined
place of purpose, captures information, and provides value. Here are
- Scan for a free prize.
- Scan for product service.
- Scan for order update.
- Scan to protect your product.
- Scan to register for the private event.
- Scan for extra savings.
As a practical example, scan the QR code below to get a free gift that
will help you make more sales from the traffic you get:
Grow Digital Traffic. Your current digital traffic is a
solid predictor of future physical traffic. There have been volumes
written on this topic so I will summarize with the following best
Hire an experienced digital marketing expert, either on staff or with
a marketing agency, to measure, interpret and adjust your online
- Track traffic and the sources of traffic to your websites.
- Continually improve your paid search campaigns and keyword mix.
- Grow organic traffic with dynamic content.
Develop innovative messaging to stand out from your competitors in
your market areas.
- Tell stories with words, videos, and pictures.
Have multiple ways and online incentives for prospects to give you
their contact information.
Connect your website to your digital marketing system and/or CRM.
There are many ways to generate traffic to increase sales. Understanding the
reasons why potential buyers in your market area visit is a great first
step. Apply practices such as following up on open sales, fostering
relationships with past customers, hosting private events, providing value
with content and using available technology. These are all essential to
effective traffic building.
Taking these actions will help you get more traffic from prospective
customers who are in the market for home furnishings. Put a plan into
action, re-allocate resources to whichever techniques you decide on,
establish KPIs, and track the results. Continuously improve upon ways to
reach prospective buyers and strengthen your existing relationships.
See all of David McMahon’s articles
here. He can
be reached with questions about this or other retail operations topics at