Tips & Insights

The Omnichannel Opportunity

Guiding customers on the fragmented journey from their phones to your store

Owning the moments that matter has always been the best strategy to win customers. Today, with 87% of furniture shoppers researching online before visiting a store, you want to be there as they click down each step on their path to purchase. At the High Point Market Keynote Session, Turn Web Traffic into Foot Traffic, an expert from Google showed how to capture those critical moments.

According to Keynote Session presenter Phillips Mitchell, Agency Account Strategist with Google, to bring customers in from the digital world, “retailers must create and maintain a seamless experience across all channels and all devices.”

“We are continuously surprised by the amount of research our customers have done before they visit our stores.”
– Steve Kidder, Owner, SuperStores, Williston, VT, and board president for Keynote co-sponsor Home Furnishings Association (HFA)

“Many of the retail store owners who are HFA members are Baby Boomers, like me,” said Kidder. “They don’t understand how their customer’s experience with their brand must be anticipated and managed from the very first online contact. Since a customer’s initial exposure is usually through a Google search on their phone, we thought it would be extremely educational to hear Google address this topic.”

According to Google, 18% more shoppers searched online for home furnishings products in 2016 versus 2015. Fifty-seven percent engaged in that search on their mobile devices, 33% on their computers. The motivation for the search usually progresses from “I want to know,” to “I want to find,” to “I want to buy.”

With all the competition for attention, it is challenging to keep eyeballs focused during the search process. “Speed thrills and friction kills,” said Mitchell. “If it takes more than three seconds to load an image after a customer clicks, you’ll lose 60% of your traffic.” Considering that shoppers who use a mobile search are 57% more likely to visit your store, 40% more likely to call, and 51% more likely to make a purchase, developing and maintaining a dynamic mobile website is crucial to building store traffic.

“We consider every web inquiry, online appointment, and chat engagement a valuable lead.”
– Taryn Kabei, Digital Marketing Manager, C. S. Wo & Sons, Ltd., Honolulu, HI and Costa Mesa, CA

Most retailers seek the support of a professional marketing firm to help them create and maintain a seamless client experience across their digital footprint. “New clients usually contact us because they want a new website,” said Kayla Wallace, Vice President of Client Relationships at FurnitureDealer.net, a marketing firm specializing in home furnishings retail. “That’s our starting point. Our goal is to positively impact every step in our client’s customer contact.”

“Kayla and her team help us provide our customers a consistent relationship with our brand, whether shopping online, from a desktop, mobile device, telephone, or during a visit to our store,” said Kabei. “This journey continues through any post-purchase interactions including delivery, pick-up and customer service. The website is our starting point because it is a virtual extension of our showrooms. Each year our web traffic and web lead opportunities increase, along with our sales.”

“It may be difficult to immediately quantify the ROI needed to enhance your store’s digital footprint,” said Kidder, “but it makes more sense than investing in print ads, television or radio. My advice is to hire a young, energetic, social media savvy person who loves home furnishings, and have them generate digital content on a regular basis.”

The task of developing timely online content to create a consistent experience across channels is easier when manufacturers provide retailers with quality images and other marketing tools to effectively showcase their products. “Ashley Furniture stands out in our industry for the power of their digital marketing program. As a retailer, they push their brand directly to the consumer. As a manufacturer, they host several educational events and programs throughout the year to help their retailers become more effective digital marketers. There is a great opportunity for other manufacturers to help us sell their products across our online channels,” said Kidder.

As the number and type of digital devices and channels continues to expand, and the lines between the digital and physical worlds becomes blurrier, creating online to in-store connections is going to become increasingly important. In High Point, the HFA’s Retailer Resource Center and Design Viewpoints Series sessions presented by ASID will continue to present the latest ideas on how to make technology work for you. Visit our Find Events section to find out what’s on tap for next Market.