What’s Your Online Strategy?

November/December 2017—

You Need One!

If it seems like every other article you read or most consultants you hear are talking about your online presence, that’s because they are. Being readily found online is the most important way your customers and potential customers will find you.

The business you miss by not having a strong online presence is invisible to you in almost every way except your bottom line. Your store traffic isn’t what it used to be. Customers who, in the past, shopped with you only have been absent for too long. A website that’s effective and business producing isn’t just nice to have, it’s essential.

There are many ways to develop your website and you’ve probably dipped your toes in those waters. But if you don’t have a line item in your marketing budget for your website, you’re wasting the money you spend on it.

Websites are like gardens. They take work but with effective efforts, they can produce for you in bountiful ways. You need to select the correct location, prepare the area for the garden, fill it full of plants, and tend to it so that at harvest time, you have good stuff. You probably didn’t start from scratch on that garden. You consulted experts, used garden tools, maybe even hired out part of the work, and you paid attention to your garden because you knew your efforts would be rewarded.

All that kind of ongoing work is necessary for your store’s website, too. If you have a site that has little traffic and you don’t work on it or have someone who does, your “garden” needs a do over. Now for the good news: The Home Furnishings Association knows people who know the furniture business and how to help you stand out in your market by way of your online presence.

Ask yourself these questions about your store’s online presence:

Is your website responsive? Does it show up perfectly on all devices? Is it more than a static billboard that lists your hours of operation and the lines you carry? Does it tell your best story; the reason customers should choose your store over any other place that sells furniture? Is there a connection and consistency between your sales floor, your sales consultants and your website?

What’s your strategy? Do you have a plan for securing top placement for online searches? Do you know how the content on your site will stay fresh, interesting and relevant? Do you have a way to remind customers and potential customers that you’re available to be their home furnishings expert and partner in furnishing their homes? Does your strategy include social media? It should. I don’t know about you but my social skills are well developed in person but less so online.

What is your customer’s experience? Can you entertain your customers on your website so they want to stay and tell you more and more about themselves? Because when you know more, you can serve them better.

Information is powerful when you use it to wow your customers with customized home furnishings solutions.

Are you continually learning and improving? Your website developer and manager should provide both business services as well as help teach you and your staff what you need to know about maximizing every interaction with your customers online.

If your interest is piqued or if you are a little uneasy about your online presence strategy, you can learn more by contacting the Home Furnishings Association. The HFA connects you with learning opportunities through webinars and articles in RetailerNOW and with exhibitors and seminars at High Point and Las Vegas markets in the Retailer Resource Centers. Call 800.422.3778, option 1–or email us at membership@myhfa.org for more information.

HFA partners with OmniSource

The HFA works with OmniSource to help connect you with more customers and bring business through your doors. OmniSource’s online solutions are designed to match your brand. They offer user-friendly digital product catalogs and high-definition product images. They can help increase your search engine optimization and they offer a dedicated account manager to run your site.

About the Author

Mary Frye

Mary Frye is the Home Furnishings Association’s executive vice president. She can be reached at mfrye@myhfa.org or 916.757.1162.