Like every retail vertical, the onset of ecommerce has offered tremendous opportunities to home furnishing retailers. With the broadening range of audience touch points, digital and social channels have ushered in a new age of shopping for the home. No longer must consumers wait for a monthly or seasonal compilation of new products and home inspiration, instead, today’s consumers plan and shop regardless of time or location.
As an industry, the home furnishings market is achieving an annual growth rate of only 1.9%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Growth is stagnant for this industry, which puts pressure on these retailers to capture existing market share from the competition. Major furnishing retailers are relatively on par with one another in terms of marketing mix but fall just short of meeting the evolving expectations of consumers.
Given today’s access to information, a customer’s path to purchase has become increasingly complex. Far from linear, it is filled with many diversions and detours along the way. This evolution requires that retailers become more sophisticated in their approach to winning customers. Ensuring presence throughout this journey is vital in accomplishing omnichannel goals.
Every major brand in this industry delivers compelling content across each channel, but an overarching story is the missing piece to the complicated marketing puzzle. Today’s consumers move seamlessly between their apps, devices and social networks. Customers are not thinking of their behaviors as transitional, or from a stop and switch mode, so why should retailers? The technology that consumers rely on to power their daily lives – smartphones, tablets, desktops, and soon to be, wearables- are seamlessly integrated throughout the day. Consumers do not necessarily stop and mull over which device to use for every instance, instead they fluidly transition from screen to screen.
Retailers’ marketing efforts are not quite as streamlined as the end users they are targeting. There are still disconnects between on and offline, and notably, email and social, that could be negatively affecting brand affinity. The home furnishings sector does include retailers who provide strong content (Williams & Sonoma has a well oiled email machine, Ikea has strong mobile execution and Wayfair.com is known for attention-grabbing promotions and strong use of social), but without an omnichannel foundation, even a strong channel execution will never be optimized to its full potential.
While home furnishers have room to grow, that is not say that the progress these brands have made is not impressive. Retailers have made the leap from a single marketing channel (catalogs) to every marketing channel. Transitioning and broadening in this sense, is no easy feat. Growing a marketing mix to include multiple channels demands significant investments of budgets and resources. But in this rapidly changing, consumer-first world, these achievements no longer suffice on their own. For brands to really command consumer attention and loyalty, they must find a way to bridge the gap between their offerings with a move toward a cohesive and consistent, omnichannel ecosystem.
Achieving an omnichannel environment is not an impossible feat, in fact, many retailers, including Nordstrom and Target, already boast a successful omnichannel model. These brands have opened customers’ eyes to what a holistic retail experience can be. . From relevant and prompt messaging, to compelling and channel-appropriate creative, the marketing power of Nordstrom and Target lies in their abilities to tell fluent, and continuously unfolding brand stories that facilitate their customer’s lifestyle behaviors without interruption.
To set the stage for long-term success, the conversation must be driven by the consumer. A primary goal is to find the exact mix of channels and technology that will enable a marketing program to scale and ultimately achieve the highest ROI in this omni-channel world.
Stay tuned for the final series of this three part segment as we uncover investments necessary to achieve omnichannel success.