In the first of a three-day complimentary series of 30-minute webinars this week, Google and AVB Marketing offered home furnishings retailers a checklist of digital essentials to remain competitive in a pandemic-impacted marketplace.
According to co-host Kristen Fox, strategic partner manager for Google Customer Solutions, the COVID crisis has fundamentally changed the way consumers shop, and retailers must be ready to meet them online whenever and however they choose to buy.
Among the data Google has gleaned since the virus took hold in March:
• 30 percent of consumers say a reliable website is more important than before;
• 33 percent of consumers said they will shop online more frequently; and
• 52 percent of consumers say free delivery is important.
Fielding audience questions presented by Brian Wattier, VP of marketing for AVB Inc., the $20 billion independent dealer co-op, Fox said housebound consumers want to refresh their homes, and are looking to the web for retailers that can provide quick delivery, contactless curbside pickup, and a frictionless e-commerce experience that brings the best of in-store shopping online.
For Wattier, whose AVB Marketing team provides advertising, e-commerce and digital marketing services to AVB members, key components of that experience include videos and other engaging content; integrated POS information, to transparently apprise customers of inventory availability; a live chat feature, to provide instant communication; and a seamless mobile checkout process.
Both Fox and Wattier agreed that websites should be Google-optimized with fresh content and relevant key search words and phrases to drive traffic, and that local retailers need to emphasize their community cred through such actions as offering discounts to teachers and first responders, and setting aside special in-store hours for the elderly and infirm.
“Lean into your sense of community,” Fox advised, “and customers will love to do business with you.”
The complimentary webinar series, “2020 Fall Home Furnishings Insights,” is open to all retailers, vendors and friends of the independent home furnishings channel. Part II, which will focus on how to stand out in the marketplace, will stream on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 2:00 p.m. ET, and the series will conclude at the same time on Thursday, Oct. 8, with a preview of Black Friday. As an added incentive, one lucky retailer who attends all three sessions will be randomly selected to win a best-in-class, custom-designed e-commerce site from AVB Marketing valued at $20,000, plus $2,000 in Google Ad Spend.
To register, visit AVBMarketing.com/2020-fall-home-furnishings-insights.
The “2020 Fall Home Furnishings Insights” series is the latest collaboration between Google and AVB Marketing, one of a select group of Premier Google Partners worldwide. Together they help independent retailers take market share and grow their businesses by sharing industry insights, best marketing practices, and by encouraging consumers to shop local.