This article has been republished with the permission of Furniture Today USA.
Words: Mary Burritt
Creating an e-commerce identity beside Amazon and Wayfair can be a daunting task, one that Carl Prindle, president and CEO of Blueport Commerce, addressed at his Saturday presentation at the Retailer Resource Center Saturday.
Here are some of Prindle’s tips for improving your e-commerce strategy.
- Make your website your flagship store
What retailers may view as their biggest disadvantage online can be their biggest advantage, Prindle said: upholstery and big case goods. “That’s the most differentiated product, the biggest difference from Wayfair and Amazon and your biggest chance to get customers in your store. That what they come to retailers for.”
Most customers go to a brick-and-mortar store “to see and sit on their shopping cart.”
View your website not as another store, but as the gateway to all your stores.
- Design your website for the phone first
The typical customer journey, Prindle said, now begins “with discovery on (social media such as) Pinterest, then (continues on) your website. You’re viewed through a mobile lens first. You have to be incredibly precise about what question a consumer wants answered, and it has to be answered in a very small format. Design for the phone first.”
- Don’t leave it to a techie
Involve your sales associates, and “imagine your shopper’s journey and what will help.”
Do not try to “rebuild Amazon,” he said, or emphasize website features over logical, elegant design.
Set up your website in a way that continues the exploration most consumers begin online, on their mobile device, Prindle said.
- Don’t replicate your showroom floor
“Merchandising what’s easy isn’t necessarily what’s best,” Prindle cautioned, referring to lamps and small tables.
Customers are “looking at Pinterest, Apartment Therapy, Houzz for a story. They’re trying to solve a problem in their lives, and they want to find a story that does that.
- Make your ability to deliver a differentiator
“If you’re delivery experience isn’t awesome, think about what you can do to make it so,” Prindle said. If you offer in-store pick up, highlight it. “In-store pick-up is surprisingly popular online.”
Consider free delivery, Prindle added. “It’s cheaper for you than (for) Amazon,” plus it’s quickly becoming standard.
Make sure expertise of delivery people and process is clear, and keep customers updated. “After the sale, before delivery, send as many updates as you can. Pick up the phone!”
Finally, he said, avoid the common mistake of not mentioning delivery on your website. Customers want to know.