It’s hard to gauge such a qualitative concept, but not impossible. At HFA’s Insights, we’ll show you how.
WHAT: Insights 2018
WHEN: Sept. 14-15
8 Learning Labs – 11 Topics – 5 Networking Opportunities – 17 Events
In this fractured world of advertising, one of the hardest places for furniture retailers to calculate return on investment is through marketing and advertising.
Direct mail. Television. Newspapers. Digital ads. Radio. Some of these familiarize a customer with your store and engage them with your product. Others generate traffic to your website. But when it comes to customer experience—that ill-defined interaction between your store and a customer over the duration of your relationship—which medium works best for your furniture store and how do you really know?
“Furniture retailers want that data that shows them which type of marketing is the most effective, the one with the biggest return on investment,” says Tim Kilroy, marketing and digital media expert and one of the many speakers at this year’s HFA Insights in Minneapolis.
Kilroy says most furniture store advertising and marketing has been traditionally broadcast and offer-based, but that’s changed in recent years. Today, says Kilroy, more customers are starting their shopping journey digitally, making it harder for furniture retailers to track the effectiveness of their advertising efforts. “The ways to connect between the digital journey to the cash register are getting increasingly fuzzy for retailers to follow,” he says.
At Insights 2018, Kilroy will provide retailers with some much-needed focus by leading one of the conference’s eight Learning Labs and offering proven methods for tracking the customer experience. “There is an adage,” says Kilroy, “that if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” So how can we measure an experience?”
Kilroy will outline a strategy that does just that, steering retailers away from gut feelings to cold-calculated metrics, benchmarks and tools, he says, “every furniture retailer can use to determine if the experience is hitting the mark or falling below (the retailer’s) bottom line.”
This is not an art, but rather a science for Kilroy, a former Wayfair executive who, over the last 20 years, has created a framework for building growth called Triple This. Kilroy’s strategy works on any business, but his passions are helping retailers, and entrepreneurs/startups get themselves growing. From broken marketing processes and measurement confusion to no marketing/sales alignment and online/offline discord, Kilroy has helped retailers solve technology, strategy, marketing and business development problems that create new opportunities.
Kilroy’s insights into measuring customer experience couldn’t come at a better time. For many furniture stores, customer experience is the single greatest predictor of whether customers will return—or defect to another competitor the next time they’re in the market for home furnishings. Defining that experience and how retailers can improve it in their stores is the heart of Insights 2018.
Customer experiences happen whether they’re designed to be amazing or not, says Brian Solis, principal analyst with Altimeter Group, who will speak about Digital Darwinism and the future of furniture retail at Insights. “The best and the worst experiences convert into memories. How people experience those moments shouldn’t be left to chance,” says Solis.
“In this always-on, hyper-connected, mobile world, customers are sharing those experiences online, everywhere, and those shared experiences become the currency of influence. Customers increasingly rely on the experiences people have and share to inform and shape their decisions and next steps.”
Solis says customer experience in a furniture store has never been more important, which is why it must be at the heart of everything. “That takes insight, empathy and then design,” he says. “Touchpoints must be more than functional, transactional and connected. They must bring to life desired experiences that people prefer and hopefully remember in ways that positively impact the brand and influence others.”
And, says Kilroy, they must be measurable. “Just as there are sales techniques that help you do your best of the (showroom) floor that others can model, there are ways to help you approximate across multiple points of media to get the kind of customers you want converted into store visits,” says Kilroy.
Insights 2018 is throwing out the old way retailers gathered for conference. Rather than asking retailers to spend three or four days away from their stores sitting on uncomfortable chairs for 90-minute lectures, Insights speakers, some of the brightest and most innovative experts on customer experience, will create a hands-on, experiential learning environment.
Attendees will break up into small groups throughout the day to discuss their needs and collaborate on solutions specific to their stores.
Instead of being lectured to, attendees will enjoy exclusive Learning Labs, experiential, interactive breakout sessions designed to personalize strategies and help retailers better understand the customer experience for their stores. The Solution Room will allow retailers to take a deeper dive into the day’s topics. Retailers can simply choose a topic from the day’s events and join friends and peers to come up with solutions catered to their store.
“You’re not just learning from our panel of experts,” says HFA’s CEO Sharron Bradley, “you’re going to be learning from your peers. There’s no better group of experts than the members of our association.”
Best of all, says Bradley, Insights attendees will take in all this learning and sharing over a weekend.
“Retailers will want to be back in their stores first thing Monday to start implementing a lot of what they learn,” she says.
Insights 2018 isn’t just for learning—it’s for celebrating, too. The HFA will be honoring its 2018 Retailers of the Year as well as its Emerging Star and Trailblazer award recipients.
Insights 2018 will be held at the Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown in the heart of this vibrant Midwestern city and within easy walking distance of theaters, restaurants, Target Field and U.S. Bank Stadium.
“I’m excited about the changes we’ve made to our usual conference,” says Bradley. “Insights is going to be invaluable for retailers who are serious about growing their business.”