The new year has come and the next phase of your business comes with it. Doing business the same as last year is out of the question. Our industry and your customers have changed. Expectations are high and the stakes are even higher. With the biggest players in retail paving the way, there is little else to do but make a change. We asked MicroD experts in technology, retail, and marketing about the keys to being successful in business in 2019 and long after.
The challenge for many retailers and brands is knowing where to start improving? How can you identify the best methods to be successful in business. Because MicroD spent a quarter of a century with retailers and brands in our home furnishings industry, we have a few good places to start. You’ll hear from some of the leaders inside MicroD and get inside information about your company’s next steps to get traction on success.
Change Your Perspective
By Keith Johns, Vice President of Operations
Retailers, are you ready for the easiest of the keys to being successful in business? Put yourself in your customers’ shoes! They see your website as your front door. They’re going to peek through the windows, look at what you have to offer, and see if it’s worth their time to consider buying from you.
You can make that opportunity count by optimizing your customer’s experience:
- If a customer lands on your homepage, can she quickly see why you’re better than your competitors? Where you’re located? Your phone number? What styles and brands you specialize in?
- Not all customers arrive at your homepage! If she finds a page through a Google search, such as a product page, does that product page have a nice image? Good details about the product? A clear way to submit questions about the product? A visible phone number to call?
- Does your website offer a personalized shopping experience? If a customer lands on the homepage and shows interest in Dining, do you have a way to tell her what’s on sale in that department?
You have just a few seconds to lead a website visitor to consider your store as a place they’ll buy from. Think about how they come to you and what information they’ll need, and optimize your website accordingly!
Tips for Home Furnishings Brands
By Richard Sexton, Chief Product Officer
My one short tip for manufacturers keys to being successful in business would be this. Continue to invest in digital assets and you will continue to build your retailer relationships! Retailers are fighting battles on many fronts. And the more collateral you can provide them, the more successful they will be. Digital assets, such as 3D models, rendered images and virtual photography, can all be successfully repurposed to great effect by forward-thinking retailers. Make your brand top-of-mind for those retailers’ customers. They’re the ultimate consumer of your product.
Conduct a Real Self-Assessment
By Ken Widger, Marketing Program Manager
Retailers will benefit from taking an honest assessment of their marketing dollars and the impact it is having in 2019. Far too many retailers are investing in advertising/marketing. But have very little idea as to the return that they are getting. The days of just doing traditional advertising because “that’s what the industry does” or “that’s what we’ve done for the past 20 years” are over. If you cannot accurately see what your advertising is bringing in for new business, then it may be time to consider shifting that money to a more measurable marketing channel. The best example? Digital.
The only way that you are going to grow online is to invest into it and do something different. Every retailer in America wants to be better online, that’s easy to say, but increased online business doesn’t happen by accident, it requires a serious effort and a specific monthly budget to be allocated towards it. When deciding on a budget, don’t include your website costs as part of digital marketing…it’s not. You don’t consider your actual storefront costs to be part of your advertising budget, right? Your website is just an online storefront and should be treated as such. Invest in the website the way you invest in your store and then create a separate marketing budget to drive people there.
Personalize: It’s Do or Die Time
By Josh Astete, Vice President of Digital Marketing
2019 will be the year of Personalization. Retailers like Amazon, Wayfair, and Houzz have been winning because they have been doing this for years and it’s now “do or die” time for the rest of the retailers. To me, it’s the biggest of the keys to being successful in business. What was once considered a privacy concern for consumers has become an expectation; Consumers are Demanding to have the shopping experiences Personalized. Over 50% of consumers assume they will receive a personalized discount within 24 hours of making contact with a retailer. I know it may sound odd for some retailers. But consumers expect you to know them better than consumers know themselves. Every person with a smartphone is a human data source, endlessly providing information such as likes, searches, purchases, views, location, visits, interests, and more that allow retailers to know them better.
So, make Personalization your New Years Resolutions and start by asking these 3 questions below:
- What data do I have or what service can I buy to understand consumers?
- How do I turn my website, social media, and other Digital marketing into a Personalized journey for consumers?
- Are you ready to grow your business as Amazon & Wayfair have?
Create New Positive Habits
Our pro tip comes from Vice President of Technology, Ron Gordon.
“Start your week off right by spending 10 to 15 minutes to listen to a TED Talk. Get inspiration. Make it a regular habit!”
While many of these tips are great from a business-wide perspective, that’s not enough. Like Ron’s tip above, you need to find new habits for success. In the keys to being successful in business, you need to make sure your trailblazers–including you–are energized.
Educate Yourself Early and Often
The best way to stay ahead of the trends in your company is education. No matter what size your company, from a small retailer to the largest brand, education is key. Our industry faces unique challenges. In order to leverage the newest technology for your consumers, you need to think like the consumer (see our pro tip from Keith Johns). The best ways to educate yourself and your team are through industry outlets.
Every furniture market is full of great learning opportunities. Between seminars, webinars, and the Market editions of your favorite furniture magazine, there are tons of resources. MicroD is proud to be part of the Home Furnishings Association where education is key at Market. You can find one of our teams in the Retailer Resource Center giving a seminar on new technology and tips for retailers.
While attending these events are rejuvenating, how can you keep getting more keys to being successful in business all year long? Well, you’re staring at it now. Content, like MicroD’s blog, is a dime a dozen this year. You can easily find a resource with helpful information to keep you on trend and informed. Warning: Another shameless plug for companies like MicroD. Find companies in your industry with a resource library. MicroD’s web technology resource library is a toolkit for retailers and brands. You’ll find ebooks, videos, whitepapers, case studies, and so much more. These types of resources are great for retailers and brands because you can educate yourself at any time of the year. Plus, you’ll find the content that speaks to you the best with a little research.
Always Be Open to Change
It’s hard to know all the keys to being successful in business. What’s even harder is applying these concepts. That’s why the last and hardest tip: Always be Open to Change. In our industry, we take pride in the longevity of our multi-generational businesses. The home furnishings shopper has certainly changed, as you can see from the tips for success by our experts. The only way businesses can survive and thrive is to change.