In this era of Commerce 2.0, you need to be more than just a source of sought-after merchandise. Unlike the limited outreach available from print media campaigns and word-of-mouth marketing, selling over the web creates virtually endless space for connecting with your customers at every stage of the transaction – and of their consumer lifestyle. In effect, you and they are partners.
Even a cursory glance at social media exchanges shows the extent to which shoppers consult each other for ideas, input, and reviews of products they are considering for purchase. While peer input is important, the opportunity to establish yourself as another element in their basic decision-making about not just a single purchase, but future purchases that reflect their style and offer consistency in their design objectives, is immeasurable.
From Do-it-Yourselfers freshening their own interiors, to professional home-stagers in constant need of top-notch looks, the basics of design is an intrinsic starting point. Colors, fabrics and styles form an initial blueprint of how they want to proceed.
Here’s where you have a golden opportunity to become a consultant even before the purchasing phase. Using online room previews and planners, you enable your customers to better visualize your products in their space. Leading furniture retailers Pottery Barn and Nebraska Furniture Mart utilize online room planner tools to make it easy for their clientele to come up with cohesive design schemes. Benjamin Moore uses an online paint previewer to show how different colors will look next to each other and in different settings. They also offer a mobile app that lets you identify corresponding paint colors from photos you take.
This isn’t an experimental strategy. Surveys bear out the theory that offering consulting options prior to product selections is more likely to attract and retain active, engaged customers.
At the same time, building more personal relationships with suppliers helps you access the newest samples in digital form for use in your site’s online library. It also enriches your knowledge base and offers a heads-up for your buying decisions that will align with your customers’ wants and needs going forward.
You’ve already committed to the current trend of competing in the vast online marketplace. Take it a step further by enticing a committed customer base – one whose trust you’ve earned, and whose repeat business is far more likely.