As consumer shopping habits have changed drastically over the past year, the luxury appliance business has not been immune. But what has changed and how do we need to rethink strategies for success in this category? Bottom line: Website merchandising and digital marketing are a must for moving forward.
It is no secret that your website is now your number-one showroom. Yes, most of these high-consideration transactions still happen in-store, but your first touch with a customer is happening online. Retailers who are neglecting their websites run the risk of not getting that consumer into their store in the first place. Not to mention, their sales teams miss out on the opportunity to help that consumer with their dream kitchen. Game Over!
Let’s Get Digital
The luxury vendor community is investing heavily in their websites, creating virtual showroom tours and strategic digital campaigns that create awareness for builders, designers and consumers. So where does the independent retailer fit into this mix? Afterall most of the sales in the luxury space are made from independent dealers. Unfortunately, a large percentage of retailers are relying on “Dealer Locator” tools found on vendor websites to direct traffic their way. Does this work? Sure, if you are lucky enough to be selected from the list of retailers on the vendor’s website. But even then, in most cases all that is listed is a retailer’s address and phone number — not a link to their website. So, the consumer then must Google your name to do some research and identify if they truly want to come and see you. More steps equal more friction, and more friction means you run the risk of losing the consumer’s interest before they ever step foot in your store.
Hopefully you already have or are in the process of moving the majority of your advertising budget from traditional advertising methods to digital marketing. Now all you need to do is make sure that you allocate some of those funds towards specific campaigns that can help you drive awareness and, more importantly, conversions. One specific tactic to explore: Bid for key Google search words to make it easier for consumers to find you. For example, “Luxury Appliances Near Me,” “Monogram or Fisher & Paykel near me.” Keep in mind the “Easy Button” for consumers is an important part of the overall luxury experience.
Just Like Home
Now that you have a plan to drive consumers to your website, the focus needs to be on creating an incredible online experience. This is often the determining factor for a consumer when deciding if they want enter your showroom or purchase from one of your competitors.
A successful luxury retailer has a beautiful showroom, showcasing the latest and greatest in luxury appliances set in kitchens that people dream of. That in-store experience needs to be recreated online; think lifestyle pictures, videos, virtual tours, recommendations, augmented reality. Some of the best websites I have experienced include personalized videos from your staff interacting with products to make the consumer feel as if they were right there inside your showroom.
Along with the visual experience do not forget other key components: engagement and appointment scheduling. Over the course of the last year chat has become a must have for any successful retailer. This is an opportunity for one of your Luxury Sales Experts to answer questions and start to build a relationship with the consumer. Again, the consumer will most likely purchase in-store, so this is an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and establish your business as the market leader in the luxury appliance space.
Now that you have the consumer engaged, give them an easy way to meet in-person with one of your sales professionals by scheduling an appointment. I have two recommendations for this: 1) Have your team member hosting proactively try to schedule an in-store appointment for the customer with one of your sales professionals. And 2) Create an appointment scheduling function on your website that gives the consumer the ability to schedule an appointment without having to talk to anyone. This high level concierge-style service feeds into the type of experience the luxury appliance consumer expects. (It also does not hurt that retailers are experiencing close rates for appointments around 85-90%!)
2021 is going to end up being a great year for the luxury appliance business. Make sure you use this time to invest in your business so you are prepared for the next unpredictable event that will change our industry.
This article was first published in the June 2021 issue of Retail Observer.
John O’Halloran is senior merchant of luxury appliances for Nationwide Marketing Group.