Ask any furniture retailer if they are doing ecommerce and get ready for a list of answers and a longer list of “concerns” around all things website and ecommerce and online competition. However, if you ask a retailer if they feel they have a great web presence/persona – many automatically lean towards a content loaded ecommerce-ish posture – and for most, this is a cart way before the horse.
During a recent webinar – I broke down many technologies that retailers should be focused on in their business and having a great website is an obvious must have. I will point out/disclaim I am an ecommerce advocate! I believe wholeheartedly that there is a place for ecommerce for every retailer. Big, small, niche, boutique, it should be part of your online strategy roadmap. But I did say roadmap. A retailer’s website does not just equal ecommerce! We know that 70+% of consumers begin their online journey searching not only for information on products, they are also searching about the retailer they will eventually be purchasing these products from. Yes, product, price and promotions are and will always be part of the mix – but how many dealers forget about their retail and brand “persona” on their website. I break it down to the basic Who, What, When, Where and Why.
Who – Seems simple enough? But as a retailer do you have that “30 second elevator” speech about who you are? Does your team also know it and able to communicate it? (Huge bonus points there). Not what you sell, not your hours, not your location – but the essence of who you are as a leading business in your community. “We have been in business for over 100 years”. Yep, so what. Don’t stop there. What awesome things do you do? What do you stand for? What is your customer methodology? How do you treat your team? Social responsibility? Start making a list. Don’t worry about the elevator yet. Define and document the intangible – tangibles. Leading products from leading vendors? That is a “What”. Which is next.
What – What is your value proposition. Short, Concise. These often revolve around Price, Experience, Trust, Policies (Return), Assortment. Many people will make this part of their “Who”, but in my opinion it misses the mark. Here is a perfect example: “Bringing great products at great prices for over 100 years”. I think that is a great tag line. And probably has a place on your site or in your marketing efforts somewhere – but in my opinion it is more a summarizing statement. There is much more to your “What”! Again – start making a list. It won’t just be done with a few minutes exercise. But your “What“ also should be a statement you can proclaim and stand behind.
When – Maybe the easiest, as well as the easiest to miss, basics apply to your “When”. You have store hours. Awesome. I am sure they are readily available on your website? Perfect. Now how about chat? Another great tool. Have you ever found a website with live chat and it is offline during business hours? How about a customer service number that goes to a voicemail, and yet again – during established and published business hours? How about that black hole customer service email that takes you 2 days to respond? Are you actively monitoring your social comments and conversations? True story – I was sitting with a large dealer having a casual chat about “how’s business?”. While I was sitting, I quickly pulled up their Facebook page. They had someone that had asked them a question and this potential customer had replied to themselves a week after their original post as no one from the business did! “I am wondering about your design services? We are relocating to your area and are having our house repainted before we move in and would like to coordinate a few new pieces. Can you have someone please direct message me?” – Then a couple days later “Just wondering if you saw my last post above?” …. Ahhh… ahhhh…. I got nothing. Holy fail. When is when! And when you are open, you are open and active on all fronts. And oh, by the way, social is always open. We (consumers) want an answer now. We don’t want to call back. We “chat” for a reason – you have it, why isn’t someone manning the post when you say you are open? Make sure your “When” is aligned! Remember – omnichannel is engaging the customer where THEY want to engage with you and WHEN they choose to engage. So if their when is during your when.. you get it.
Where – Yep, store locations. Map. Correct address. Correct and re-checked. Have you checked all your location’s addresses and all the places it is listed? I looked at a dealer’s website yesterday and their map was “offline” (Google Maps has limits just an FYI). Check it. And make necessary changes. Start here: https://support.google.com/business/answer/2853879
Why – I think the “why” is the most difficult to convey via written word . Those core values every business must have. I love it when a business says they give back and there is zero evidence or vibe around that statement. That core focus on a greater good. It is not a marketing message; it’ s not a ploy – though to many it is both of those (unfortunately). Maybe it is aspirational – which to have aspirational values and then communicate these as actual values is a disaster in the making. In my opinion a “why” must (and will) follow the actual doing for some time. For example – “2% of every dollar spent is donated to the local charity”. Absolutely awesome! How long have you been doing this? Its almost like product reviews. Ask any consumer how they feel when there is 1 review – and it is a 5-Star review? Skeptical instantly. Reviews build over time. 400 Reviews on a product and it is a mix of good, better and bad. The bad we instantly dismiss as there is always that one. But we “believe” it because it has history. I believe as businesses we do have an obligation and we must find that which aligns with our values. It might be great jobs for great people. Perfect. If you are known for that and can back it up – talk about it. If you have been contributing that 2% for years because you believe it the right thing to do, mention it. Don’t brag about it. I believe the “Why” will be a natural reflection of a true “you” and your values. Let it speak for itself – yet look for subtle ways to call it out. Here is a great way to look at this. “It’s not what you say you are – it’s what others say you are”. Again, “Why” is a harder nut to crack – but as a retailer there are those natural and genuine “Whys” in there somewhere. What are they?
Consumers are starting online to research not only the products you carry but also who you are as a business as they are going to possibly entrust you with their hard-earned cash. As a retailer you must convey as much about you as you do your products. Endless aisle and nothing more is a miss. Who. What. When Where. Why. If you look at your site – Would “consumer you” feel comfortable and confident and compelled to buy from “retailer you”?