Tips & Insights

The Digital Doorway

Web strategy sessions help retailers engage and convert online visitors

Converting digital visits to in-store sales is top of mind for most furniture retailers, as traditional sales models are ineffective in reaching customers as they research options online. According to technology presenting at Market seminars, the key to capturing customers before they click away lies in creating an interactive, mobile-friendly site that speaks their language.

Mobile Revolution

Connecting with online shoppers requires understanding how they shop, says Ron Gordon, senior vice president of technology for MicroD. “Across the millions of websites using Google Analytics, more than 50 percent of all web traffic is now coming from smartphones and tablets,” Gordon explained during his Looking Back, Looking Ahead website trends presentation at Spring Market. “This is a big change and underscores the importance of websites working on mobile devices.”

“The user’s experience is king.”
– Ron Gordon, Senior Vice President of Technology, Micro D

Whether they’re searching for ideas, a product, or the store closest to them – today’s furniture shoppers are increasingly using mobile devices, and they behave differently than desktop computers, says Gordon. Mobile users are viewing retailers’ sites on smaller screens, in portrait orientation, and with lower bandwidth. says Gordon. “People are five times more likely to leave a website if it’s not mobile-friendly.”

Not sure if your site is mobile-friendly? “Think like a consumer and try to go shopping on your own site,” advises Gordon. Evaluate your site’s download speed, ease of navigation, page readability, and links to your directions and phone number. “Your mobile presence has to deliver quickly and efficiently. Smartphone users are spending a lower percentage of time on a website,” says Gordon.

Getting Engaged

“The furniture customer engagement path begins online before they step foot in your store,” says Scott Hill, co-founder and executive chairman of PERQ. In his presentation to retailers, Hill noted three critical changes impacting furniture stores: more people are visiting retailer websites than going into stores, 70 percent of store visitors have researched online first, and furniture buyers are visiting an average of 1.8 showrooms before making a purchase – considerably fewer than ten years ago, due in large part to online research. PERQ utilizes a ‘Furniture Customer Engagement’ model to help retailers create interactive websites that treat online visitors like in-store shoppers.

“Think about the customer engagement path your sales team uses in the showroom and how you can translate that into online tactics.”
– Scott Hill, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, PERQ

“Recreating the customer engagement path online will ensure the website experience matches the showroom experience, increasing conversions of online visitors to in-store sales,” says Hill. “Engage your online consumers to drive them to your store.”

Recent data supports the model, reports Hill. “Across our client base we’ve noticed that by doubling the time that a consumer spends on a client’s website engaging in multiple interactive experiences, we more than double their likelihood to buy.”

Use Their Words

“Incorporating the words customers use in their reviews and feedback into your marketing strategy can help you take your brand to the next level,” explained Marisa Peacock, founder and chief strategist of The Strategic Peacock, during her April Market presentation, Use Your Words: Leveraging Customer Conversations to Enhance Your Content Marketing.

Peacock recommends retailers scour review sites, surveys, blogs, social media, and keyword searches for the language their customers are using when they talk about their store and its products. Also pay close attention to the words they use at the point of sale and with customer service, she advises. “Are they saying couch or sofa? Look for trends in different locations. Customers in urban areas will have different standards than those in suburban markets.”

“The right words can help attract the right audience – and help you relate to the current marketplace.”
– Marissa Peacock, Founder and Chief Strategist, The Strategic Peacock

Pinterest® provides another resource for reverse engineering sales and marketing terms, says Peacock. “Look at Pinterest and pay attention to the names of the boards your customers create. If you see ‘Laura and Mike’s dream home’ or ‘House bucket list,’ use these words in your next email blast. ”

In addition to debuting the latest home furnishings, High Point Market offers an extensive lineup of seminars designed to help retailers improve their performance. For more web insights and strategies, check out the HFA’s Retailer Resource Center at Fall Market.