Ecommerce Can Be Your Money-Making Machine

Mark Schumacher, CEO of the Home Furnishings Association, hosted a webinar on how businesses will increasingly rely on ecommerce in the aftermath of the pandemic. The webinar features three speakers who share their unique perspectives about developing a stronger ecommerce presence during the pandemic. Among these speakers was our own Sr. Consultant, Terri Pucin, Jared Simon, VP of Simon’s Furniture, and David Koehler, Chairman of Johnny Janosik. The group addresses managing ecommerce with a limited inventory, maximizing ticket size, and financing amongst various other topics. Terri offers industry oversight as an experienced multichannel retail executive, Jared offers his perspective as a single-store operator, and David shares his experiences operating a chain of furniture stores across the state of Delaware. Drawing from their different experiences in the industry, the group offers a holistic approach to increasing sales using ecommerce and effectively adapting to the challenges the pandemic has brought forth. Check out the quick recap below!

1. Managing Ecommerce with Limited Inventory:

Q – “You want to sell online, but how are you managing the fact that there is so much product you can’t get your hands on? How do you continue to balance that out to avoid disappointing the customer even further?”

David, Chairman at Johnny Janosik, acknowledged that pre-pandemic, Johnny Janosik was transactional online, but not as much as they would have liked.  Now, their website does indicate what is in stock and what is in-store but “obviously it is a far cry from what it was pre-covid in terms of what is in stock and what is not” (David Koehler, Johnny Janosik). As Johnny Janosik begins recovering and getting more product in, their customers gravitate towards the current, available stock. They’ve noticed that customers are waiting for items they want rather than just buying because an item is in stock. Jared from Simon’s Furniture agreed and added that customers are finding that if they do have to wait, they at least want to customize the product(s) to get exactly what they want.

As a smaller retailer, some of Simon’s inventory is tied in to the website and provides live updates to their customers. “We tend to say something is in stock only when we have 2 or more of that item, that way you don’t get to the last item and have someone buy it online because it’s ‘in stock’ and then realize you no longer have that item” (Jared Simon, Simon’s Furniture). They’ve also branded their in-stock items as ‘Express Delivery’ when items are on their way to the store but aren’t quite there to be called ‘in-stock’.

Terri also chimed in about the importance of being able to speak to the customers up front about what’s available. By aggregating those products into a certain searchable set of products, you’re able to ease that part of the customer journey through your shop. Terri alos mentioned the importance of pictures on the website. “Pictures. Without the ability [for customers] to go into the store to touch and feel, your images online are going to have to tell your story. They need to be clear, have great resolution, multiple views, dimensions, etc.” (Terri Pucin, FitForCommerce).

2. Maximizing Ticket Size & Creating a Seamless Multi-channel Shopping Experience

A seamless online shopping experience should allow customers to make informed decisions and comparisons between products, when the data and features are presented properly and research can easily be performed, it can lead to a willingness to spend more. You have to be innovative in customer engagement. Since the pandemic has significantly reduced the amount of customers entering the showroom, retailers must improvise to properly engage their customers.

Jared has found that if you have enough content online, customers will step themselves up more than they may have in-store because they can compare it easier without a salesperson there. “How you romanticize the data and features can help the consumer and [sometimes] guide them to a higher ticket” (Jared Simon, Simon’s Furniture). Terri added that salespeople are still important and the past year has taught us that they (the salespeople) need to be innovative. Facilitating conversations even when people don’t want to (or can’t) come in store is important. “You can almost mimic the same experience they would have had in store if you’re creative enough” (Terri Pucin, FitForCommerce).

Q – “There is a lot of bleed-over between ecommerce and in-store, it seems like you can’t pull the two apart. What kind of value do you put on the continuity between the two?”

Creating a seamless and interactive online experience will ultimately drive customers into your store going forward. Terri advised, “You really can’t put a value on it… It’s hard to say what percent of sales are from ecommerce and what are from in-store because they are so interchangeable in this day and age.” She continued, “The difference between ecommerce and store sales has become such a blurry line. If it starts online and then the purchase is completed in store, what kind of sale is it? At the end of the day, it’s a company sale. It’s unified commerce.” {Want to learn more about Unified Commerce? Check out our Whitepaper!}

3. Discovering Financing Solutions – What kind of financing do you offer online?

Johnny Janosik started offering financing online around 10 months ago and although a majority of online business is done with credit cards, they have seen an increase in the sales done through this platform. Simon’s provided information on their online checkout that allowed users to use their Simon’s credit card online when they previously could only be used in store. Jared mentioned that the sales increase through this method was huge for their online business.

Terri commented on the unique aspect of financing within the furniture industry. “Home furnishing is particularly fit for financing compared to other ecommerce industries. Financing can be set up with a typical credit card system, however, now it can easily be done through third party services that can easily be integrated into your check out process” (Terri Pucin, FitForCommerce).

This is just a brief overview of the insightful webinar. The industry experts also touched on cart abandonment, understanding ROI, tips & tricks for communicating with customers, and a few other topics. Want to learn more about ecommerce in the furniture industry? Check out the full webinar below!