The holy grail of retail – everyone is looking for the game changer for their customer experience. The question is: how can you introduce your customers to products that are not physically present? Before 2020, virtual reality headsets were making a lot of noise. Now, even with tons of disinfectant, it’s an unthinkable experience. Consumers have turned to exploring products online, with augmented reality (AR) at the heart of the work-from-home economy. But what about physical stores?
Like other big-ticket items, furniture is still mostly bought from showrooms. Physical stores benefit from a well-built website. Traffic increases and consumers are better informed when they set foot in your showroom. Google estimates that 83% of shoppers visit a retailer’s website before visiting the physical location. In the furniture business, many agree that the number is likely much higher. So what are your guests waiting for?
Game Changer #1: The Knowledgeable RSA
“I’m just browsing” is consumer language for “I don’t trust the associate”. In many cases, consumers are better informed than sellers. After all, they’ve spent hours researching models, series, and collections and scouring the web when cross-shopping.
So, the first game changer is smart RSA (associated with retail sales). Using tablet apps, they need to access inventory quantities, product catalogs, manufacturer inventory and lead times, and accurate pricing. Of course, everything is in real time. And ideally, in sync with what is displayed on the website. There is software that automates this process – any data syndication platform worth its salt can do it.
Game-Changer #2: The positive price surprise
Everyone loves unexpected good news. Many consumers are unaware that brands protect products and retailers by enforcing MAP – Minimum Advertised Price. MAP levels the playing field by not allowing retailers to go below a certain amount when posting the product online. Physical stores usually don’t have to worry about MAP. They may offer additional discounts or bundle items to blur prices. Educate your customers that they are getting the best possible deal when they visit your store.
While adhering to the MAP policy on your website is crucial, you can be much more flexible in store. Provide your sales consultants with tools to identify MAP prices online and allow them to benefit from discounts for in-store purchases. Ideally, you find a data syndication platform that automatically applies MAP for your e-commerce site.
Game-Changer #3: Self-service whenever you want
Your customers want to be in control of the shopping experience. They don’t like to be sold; they want to buy. “I’m just browsing” can be countered by introducing them to your endless aisle booths. If they can’t find what they’re looking for on the floor, encourage them to walk the extended aisle. Let them explore on their own and build a cart. Maybe they even share things with themselves or with decision makers using built-in sharing tools.
Self-service cannot – and should not – replace human interaction. Furniture retail is still a consultative shopping experience. Big articles have a lot more to do with emotions than logic. The goal of self-service is to automate and streamline the aspects that only slow down a sales process. We’ve rounded up the top 5 must-have self-service kiosk software to get you started.
Game-Changer #4: Low selling pressure – when collecting tracking information
I don’t know anyone who likes over-eager salespeople breathing down their necks. In a predominantly commission-based industry, salespeople can sometimes behave like vultures. They hide behind the adjacent thumbnail, waiting for the consumer to drop dead.
With a low-pressure approach, even hesitant buyers are more willing to open up and share their real needs. Retailers can get follow-up contact information by texting them (or loved ones) product recommendations. And with the right integration, those text messages become the perfect gateway to a distance selling session. Conversational marketing – especially via SMS – is already responsible for thousands of dollars in sales.
There is no single “game changer” for customer experience. Minor improvements and consistency both have a lasting impact. And while a good customer experience is highly subjective, there are some universal truths. Eliminate inefficiencies and double what leads to happy customers. They will share their happiness – with valuable reviews online or by letting family and friends know. Learn more about HFA’s Wondersign solution partner and how they support furniture retailers.