From Home Furnishing Business
We Created Showrooming—Not Technology
Brick and mortar locations are obsessed with making Amazon their problem. The real problem is that we do not understand how to leverage the technology in front of us (or the resources) to help us sell more stuff.
OK, here it is … Amazon did $67.9 BILLION in 2013 in retail sales ($49.6 billion more than the next closest online retailer, according to Internet Retailer. If you ask Best Buy executives or Barnes & Noble executives they would tell you their showrooms act as the No. 1 sales vehicle for their good friends at Amazon. What if we told you that they are 100 percent wrong?
We utilize other’s access to technology as a crutch to make up for the fact that we do not want to leverage it to help us close the sale. The customer wants ease of purchase but that doesn’t always equate to purchasing directly online. She wants to have her questions answered, to understand why the sofa is $499 verses $199 or why the cost for delivery is $79 verses free from AnyoneRetailer.com.
If we are going to stay in business today we need to stop pointing the finger outward and start looking inward. Here are four sure fire ways we can equip ourselves to be successful and give Ms. Jones what she really wants today: a great shopping experience that keeps her coming back.
1. Use Social Media
The only way for us to understand the impact social media can have on our business is for us to empower our entire store and ourselves to understand it, digest it and implement it personally. Follow your friends—and your competitors. They won’t tell the world what they ate for lunch, but they need to understand how Ms. Jones buys today.
2. Buy Online
Empower your key people (operations, sales, buying, finances) to make one personal purchase a quarter from various industries and online sellers. Have them study the strengths and weaknesses of their personal shopping experience, from the product catalog, ease of checkout, delivery options, follow up and customer service. This will allow you to understand how you can make the customers experience better—plus find the loopholes to give you a leg up.
3. Get Ready for Y (and the millennial?)
Generation Y is coming of age. Born between 1982 and 2000, this is the largest generation of consumers ever (bigger than the Baby Boomers) and they will be the dominant consumer force for your future. Find someone at a local university or a local consultant to come in and educate your staff on what Gen Y is looking for. Just making conclusions based on their own experience (or yours) will only lead to the wrong sales approach happening.
4. Know your market
Market research is an expensive investment, not an expendable expense. The Ms. Jones that bought from you five years ago is gone, and a new woman has taken her place. To get the best out of your salespeople you need to invest in understanding who your customer is right now. Dig deep into why she buys, how she buys and where she might buy to equip your salespeople, delivery and customer service personnel with the script needed to sell her (and keep her) today.
Don’t use other resources as crutches to be the solution to your problems. Invest in your people to leverage today’s technology to ensure you are making money today … and tomorrow.