HIGH POINT — Companies that want to successfully use e-commerce in the future need to get serious now about investing in tools, technology and talent.
This is according to the Reinventing E-commerce Panel moderated by Furniture Today editor-in-chief Bill McLoughlin with panelists Keith Johns, chief operating officer at MicroD; Jeffrey Nunn, director of sales at vFurnish; and Craig Schmeizer, founder and CEO of Idle Group.
“The companies that did well during the pandemic moved quickly and adapted quickly,” said Johns. “They got their cart up and items priced and started fulfilling orders online. Since things are not back to normal, it’s important to keep that adaptive mindset moving forward.”
Nunn said e-commerce doesn’t necessarily happen at home. VFurnish has found that in-store kiosks are now multipurpose, illustrating the importance of having technology available wherever people are.
“People can do business on a kiosk in a store without having to be face-to-face with someone, which offers more safety during the pandemic,” he said. “It’s also a good idea to offer mobile apps to interior designers so they can use your augmented reality and room planner apps to virtually help their clients.”
Many of vFurnish’s clients also are using artificial intelligence chatbots to communicate with customers.
Offering house credit or other deferred payment options to help online shoppers is important too, according to Schmeizer.
“Since online shoppers can’t touch and feel the product, companies need to up their game in terms of the value proposition with longer trial periods and warranty coverage,” he said. “Customers also look to trusted sources like online reviews and social media to see if the brand is credible.”
Johns said it’s important to pay attention to every point where the customer enters the buying journey and reduce friction at each of those points. Some start online and move to in-store, so it’s important to be able to pull up a cart or a wish list when they enter your store.
Having access to the right talent to determine the best use of technology will also be important moving forward, according to Nunn.
And finally, as home furnishings retailers find their way online, Schmeizer believes they will need to strategize to keep customer acquisition costs low in order to compete and expand.