Whether you are a home furnishings manufacturer or retailer (or both) you are already engaging with in-store shoppers in many ways. Friendly service. Helpful visual displays. An attractive showroom with plenty of comfortable places for people to sit, study, and sample your furniture selection for comfort, style and functionality.
The thought of bringing digital marketing into your store may sound complicated or that it doesn’t fit with your store’s special atmosphere. However, infusing digital into your in-store shopping experience can be as simple as making a few simple tweaks here or there. Digital strategies only enhance your time-tested tactics, helping you connect with customers and increase holiday sales. Here are a few tips your home furnishings company can integrate digital for the holidays (and every shopping day after that).
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Tip #1: Interact.
Offer fun, interactive digital in-store experiences. For example, in addition to the ring of fabric swatches you have considerately placed in your upholstered living room display, why not also have a wireless tablet for shoppers to use to flip through their color choices? Or instead of leaving the impressive flat-screen TV in that same living room suite set on Dr. Phil or Sunday’s NFL game, how about putting a remote controller in consumers’ hands that allows them to control the screen in creative ways, using it to plan a room or experiment with draping different fabrics on the pieces they are sitting on? Like many home furnishings businesses, you probably have an inviting section of your store devoted to design services, complete with hundreds of swatches and rows of trend books. With a few strategically placed laptops or tablets, equipped with “Design Your Own” visualization solutions, suddenly you have a digital design bar.
MicroD’s Room Planner puts your customer in the driver’s (and designer’s) seat. Empowering them to plan and shop for their perfect room online will close the gap in the buying cycle and showcase your inventory from the view of their living room. Check out MicroD’s Room Planner in action!
If it’s hard to imagine how to integrate digital into your store’s flow, it might be helpful to do a quick study of how innovators in other retail sectors approach this opportunity. Amazon, for example, has recently opened brick-and-mortar stores, and you may be able to steal a page (pardon the pun) from its example. As this New York Times article noted, Amazon’s first physical store features free, fast Wi-Fi and plenty of mobile devices for shoppers to fiddle with.
Tip #2: Be Mobile Ready.
While we are offering tips for bringing digital into the store, we’ll readily admit one huge secret. Digital is coming into your store regardless of what you do. Digital is in the hands of the consumer — on the ubiquitous mobile phone. These devices contain the secret to their favorite décor colors, to the home fashion trends they’ve liked on social media and maybe even to specific pieces they’ve researched on your website … or that of your competitors. If your website still isn’t mobile friendly, now is the time to redesign for the growing population of mobile shoppers. That phone’s camera roll could be a virtual cornucopia of sales leads. While you can’t start yanking iPhones from customers’ purses to take a look, you can be ready to meet them where they are, marrying your offerings to their digital aspirations. For example, your salespeople can use their conversational talents and selling skills to encourage shoppers to open up about what they’ve been researching online and to show them what they’ve pinned on Pinterest lately. Then they are better able to help them to create the looks they want. They can guide shoppers through your physical inventory selection and navigate their way to digital visualization tools. Then consumers can use their own phones to explore your online showroom of fabrics and styles beyond what they see on the selling floor.
Tip #3: Consider Kiosks.
Not just for gift registries and Redbox rentals, the kiosk is a straightforward way to bring the digital experience into the store setting. Furniture brands can work with their retail customers to install kiosk solutions that give consumers access to extended collections. For example, a retailer may not be able to devote a lot of floor space to patio sets over the holidays, but through partnership with an outdoor furniture brand, the dealer can virtually show an extensive collection online. Integrated e-commerce and digital catalog solutions make the whole experience seamless, from applying the retailer’s markup to arranging for drop-shipping to the store or shopper’s home straight from the wholesaler’s factory or warehouse.
Did You Know… MicroD has updated its collection of online furniture catalogs more than 3,000 times with new items as well as adds, drops, and updates in the last year? See what our catalog data solution can do to bridge the gap between manufacturers and retailers in your company.
Tip #4: Go Social.
In our last post, we presented some ideas for engaging consumers with social media across all touch points, from TV and newspaper to your stores and delivery teams. To tap into social networks in the store, you can consider setting up digital screens strategically in the showroom to stream live feeds from popular social channels, showing what’s trending in home fashions and decorating. You also might consider an in-store social media promotion, such as encouraging shoppers to post a picture of their favorite piece in your showroom, along with a certain #hashtag, to be eligible for a discount or entered in a contest give-away. Social media also is a great way for your sales team to build followers, whom they can then readily invite to the showroom for design consultations and appointments to touch, see and experience your latest arrivals.
Shoppers have already started the 2016 holiday shopping season. Will you be ready for them online?
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