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Your website isn’t a brochure. Use it to build relationships with shoppers.

Furniture retailers miss sales opportunities if they don’t turn anonymous website visitors into people they know, says Scott Hill, executive chairman and co-founder of PERQ

When many consumers never walk into a furniture store until they’re ready to buy, it’s critical to start the selling process online, says Hill, who will lead a seminar in the Home Furnishings Association’s Resource Center at the High Point Market. 

“The consumer is no longer coming to shop in your store,” Hill says. So, the question is: “How are you helping them like you were helping them when they showed up in your store.” 

He’s not talking about buying. They’ll do that in the store, but they’re more likely to buy after they’ve engaged online with the store’s designers and sales staff. 

The retailer’s biggest mistake, Hill says, is thinking of his website as a brochure or “a shopping cart full of hope.” Instead, it offers the means to begin a relationship with customers. 

PERQ built its expertise in online consumer engagement through more than a decade working with the automotive industry, Hill says. In the last couple of years, it’s added 175 retail furniture clients. One of those clients is Big Sandy Superstore, whose president, Bryan Scott, will join Hill to share his company’s success in converting online traffic into in-store buyers. 

The experiences shoppers derive inside the store play a big part in their decision to buy, but Hill warns that will happen less often if online experiences never draw them in. 

His seminar is 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 6. The association’s Resource Center is on the first floor of Plaza Suites, 222 S. Main St. in High Point.  

technology in the form of a human

Market speaker will help you get into the minds of your customers

The eyes don’t lie. That’s why mobile eye tracking is an effective tool for consumer research, according to Michelle Adams, founder of Marketing Brainology

Why hang a banner from the ceiling of your showroom if no one’s going to look? People are much more likely to look down than up. That’s just a simple example of the insights that furniture retailers can gain from Adams’ one-hour presentation in the Home Furnishings Association’s Resource Center at the High Point Market, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, April 6. 

A woman with a doctorate degree, who’s taught at the University of Texas at Dallas and Southern Methodist University and was vice president of customer strategy and shopper insights for PepsiCo, might know a few things. In fact, her company’s slogan is, “We understand the consumers’ inner brain.” 

Researchers once could follow shoppers and make notes on a clipboard, Adams says. Or they could ask shoppers what they looked at and what they liked and didn’t. All very good. Mobile eye tracking, on the other hand, fits volunteer shoppers with glasses equipped with small, lightweight cameras that point outward and back at the eye. The device records exactly what catches their attention, what they focus on and for how long, and what they look back to. Researchers don’t have to take their subjects’ word for it. What subjects say they did, and what they really did, may be different. With this technology, researchers see exactly what shoppers see. 

Michelle Adams
Michelle Adams

These studies let Adams and her team identify distinct shopper types and develop strategies for attracting each one. 

And those are just the visuals. With more shoppers looking for an in-store experience, they want to be moved by touch, scent and sounds as well. Understanding their desires is the secret to sales success. 

Adams says she studies the “art and science of decision-making.” The research – measuring physical reactions — forms the science. The art is the ability to use data to craft solutions that work in a retail setting. There are only brief opportunities to make an impression on shoppers. Retailers must present the right messages conveyed in ways that are noticed and project meaningful information. 

Less is more, Adams says. Trying to pack too much into every message will just make the eye look away. And that’s no lie. 

The Resource Center is on the first floor of Plaza Suites, 222 S. Main St. in High Point, NC.

Shoppers’ senses can put them in the mood to buy

An attractive showroom, pleasant background music and, perhaps, the smell of leather can put visitors to your store in the mood to buy.

That conclusion comes from a global survey of 10,000 consumers in 10 countries by Walnut Unlimited for Mood Media, an in-store media solutions company.

The Mood Media study focuses on the impact of atmosphere on shoppers’ experiences and behavior. It contends that the ability to touch, feel and try products, as well as music, visuals and even scent, contribute to a preference for in-store purchasing over online buying for most consumers.

via Mood Media

More than 80 percent of American shoppers say an enjoyable atmosphere is a key factor in keeping them in your store longer, returning more often and making purchases there rather than through the Internet, according to the survey. Background music is the biggest part of that, but only if it’s good music.

No details were offered on what kind of aromas work best but, as a furniture retailer, you probably should draw from strength – especially if you sell leather products.

STORIS will demonstrate newest advance in RRC at Las Vegas Market

Retailers spoke, STORIS listened. As requested by its retail partners in the home furnishings industry, the company has launched Release 10.0, “adding advanced fulfillment functionality to its point of sale process,” it said in a news release. “This is critical as fulfillment methods are a competitive advantage for retailers in a world shaped by demanding consumer delivery expectations and a call for convenience.”

Customers can request a demonstration in the HFA Retailer Resource Center, B1050, at the Las Vegas Market. Go to Storis.com to make a request.

“Multiple concurrent fulfillments is a significant enhancement due to the related processes, such as delivery, logistics and merchandise preparations being subsequently affected,” the STORIS news release added. “Each fulfillment on an order can be manifested for routes simultaneously. This allows for delivery or shipment from different warehouses to fulfill a single order concurrently.”

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Steps to Create the Best Furniture Website to Increase Sales

Transform your retail store website from an online catalog to an extension of your sales staff with these furniture website tips that are sure to increase sales.

Is your furniture store website delivering quality leads, capturing details on every visitor, and assisting consumers in their research so they move closer to making a purchase? If not, it’s time to turn your website into a great salesperson with these furniture website tips.

Ditch the Digital Brochure Approach

Interactive technology on a website makes the online consumer experience engaging and personalized, much like the fancy websites of big box stores and e-commerce heavyweights.

“Websites tend to be very much like an online brochure, with products and price listings and some basic content visitors can read through,” says PERQ Co-founder Scott Hill. “By keeping people on the site longer and providing richer engagement with the brand, you build up mindshare, which quickly moves them closer to purchasing.”

Increase Engagement Time on Website

Furniture stores can drastically increase website visitor engagement by offering interactive quizzes and helpful tools to create a guided online shopping experience.

After implementing PERQ’s technology last year, Knight Furniture & Mattress in Texas experienced a big lift in online engagement and in-store sales. “It’s increased time on site by about double,” says Knight Furniture Vice President Joey Gunn. “I needed my website to be better than all of my local competitors, and I really wanted to take it to the next level. Something not many companies do is remember to adapt your website to mobile. It keeps them on my site longer and off my competitors’ by adding value.”

Generate Better Lead Information

Many furniture websites only gather lead information if a visitor fills out a static “contact us” form, and that basic information offers little help in closing a sale. Be sure to entice online shoppers into giving you detailed information about themselves (and their purchase preferences) by offering valuable research in return.

Help shoppers narrow down the best kind of mattress for their sleep habits or pick a sofa style through fun, quick quizzes that don’t seem obtrusive. In return, furniture retailers capture higher quality leads that result in more sales. In analyzing clients’ data, we’ve found interactive content generates 500% more data collected than websites without an interactive experience.

Track the Customer Journey

It’s important to track individual website visitors to see what pages they’ve viewed, how long they spent on each page, as well as everything they clicked on. In-depth analytics show retailers what’s successful and what isn’t working well on their website. It also gives their sales teams detailed information about each online shopper that can be used to convert a lead.

“We encourage our sales team, before they respond to a lead, to follow that customer journey,” Gunn says. “All of a sudden, we have way more information and customer insight to work with.”

Personalize the Website Experience

Furniture retailers can also leverage a visitor’s internet “cookies” to personalize the website experience. PERQ software tracks an online shopper’s behavior for 180 days, so the websites remember shoppers every time they visit — even greeting them by name. Shoppers don’t even have to re-enter information or see the same offers twice, which moves them onto the next buying step.

To inspire consumers to visit the showroom, serve up smart Calls to Action like personalized promotions. Delivering targeted content and incentives makes the navigation process more intuitive, less frustrating, and entices your consumers to visit the showroom.

Homeowner Janet Dixon bought several big pieces of furniture such as a white high gloss tv unit, after her children left for college. Dixon started her research online and then purchased in-store. She says inadequate search functions and irrelevant pop-up advertisements on furniture websites annoy her.

“Online shopping is only enjoyable when it is easy to navigate and I can go right to what I am looking for without digging and searching through unrelated items,” Dixon says.

Offer a Connected Website Experience

Combine some or all of these furniture website tips to create a connected online experience that guides consumers down the sales funnel, and ultimately drives them from the research phase into the showroom to buy. “Your website is an important thing to focus on. It’s a critical marketing tool,” says PERQ Sales Manager Doug Stump. “Starting there makes sense.”