The new digital age of retail brings with it a whole host of opportunities
The new digital age of retail brings with it a whole host of opportunities and challenges for home retailers looking to convert casual browsers into paying customers, whether in-store or online. Consumer confidence is on the rise, so the appetite is there to buy. But what obstacles are holding brands back from securing those crucial sales conversions?
In a crowded home retail market, standing out with useful solutions that benefit both the customer and retailer provides a significant competitive advantage. Solutions such as 3D planning are well recognized for improving engagement along the buyer’s journey:
The research phase: being searchable and sharable
87% of consumers begin their purchase journey on digital channels. It is therefore imperative for brands to have a strong online presence that serves as the initial touchpoint for customers when undertaking research for their next project. Websites need to be keyword optimized and offer relevant, regularly updated content in text, visual and video formats that consumers can use during the initial research and self-education phase of their projects. Features such as concept rooms or example designs taken from the 3D planning solution are an excellent way to inspire and excite customers at this stage.
Social media is emerging as an important influencer in the home improvement process, with users posting their own content and engaging in online conversations with their peers via hashtags and community groups. Sites such as Houzz or Pinterest are widely used by consumers planning home improvements, featuring visual and aspirational content ready to serve as inspiration for upcoming projects. Retailers must offer users the ability to download high quality and lifelike 3D rendered images that can be shared and discussed with friends and family on social media networks. This in turn increases the likelihood of other consumers coming across these designs and creating their own.
Building brand consideration with value added solutions
In addition to social media, many brands also invest in marketing campaigns, PR activities and native content aimed at driving traffic towards their e-commerce sites. However, the onus rests with the retailer to convert consumers once they are on the site, by providing relevant and useful content.
This is where a highly engaging technology solution such as 3D planning can really bridge the gap, offering users the power to design and visualize their home improvement projects. With access to a live catalog and pricing that pulls through automatically, customers can browse at ease and begin piecing their projects together. The ability to create a user profile and save multiple projects means that the user can move across devices and between online and offline, seamlessly picking up exactly where they left off for an omnichannel customer experience. This results in an intuitive user journey that adds value to the consumer and helps accelerate the buyer from consideration through to preference.
Assuaging design stage concerns
There are a number of key questions that the typical home improvement shopper will consciously or subconsciously ask themselves before finalizing their purchase. Retailers must address these in order to move consumers through the preference and design stage. These include:
- Does the solution proposed fulfill my requirements?
- Is this solution within the budget I have allocated?
- Do I have all of the information that I need ahead of installation?
- Am I confident that this brand will be able to deliver the solution?
- How likely is my design to be accurate and ‘buildable’?
- If something goes wrong, are returns possible or the support available under warranty to fix it?
In order to accelerate the sales process and convert the customer, these questions need to be answered and satisfied. The earlier in the process this is done, the better.
When researching product sets, 3D planning solutions allow for custom measurements to be entered, room shapes selected and small yet important details such as electronics, plumbing and windows added in. This provides an accurate starting point to create a design idea that consumers can be confident are fit for purpose.
During the design process, the user must be guided by automated business rules that comply with local regulations and that flag any potential design flaws. Consumers know that even a few centimeters can jeopardize the viability of a design, so retailers must lay emphasis on the accuracy and rigor of the solution, and its ability to create sales-ready orders which only need a final validation in-store.
In terms of budget management, the solution should automatically update the costs in line with the products selected, giving users a real-time view of the cost of their designs. The live product catalog must also display relevant product descriptions and information, accompanied by 3D imaging for an accurate representation of the end result.
From clicks to mortar: carrying the experience in-store
Consumers rarely undertake significant home improvement purchases purely online, with data from PWC showing that while 43% of home improvements shoppers prefer to carry out research online, the majority (70%) make purchases in-store. This results in an overwhelming move towards omnichannel buyer journeys – where consumers complete their research and create a design online, then bring it in-store for sales experts to validate and place the order.
Retailers should be prepared for this by ensuring that in-store sales staff have full access to consumers’ online designs, alongside the training and expertise that is essential to converting the sale.
3D design planning solutions, such as the HomeByMe for Home Retailers 3D planning solution, can provide consumers with everything they need in order to make their home improvement designs a reality. The path to a converted sale can take anything from minutes to months, but one thing is for sure – customers that are engaged and satisfied with the service they received will keep that brand top of mind for their next step.
To further explore how a 3D planning solution can add a competitive advantage to your home retail business and help to convert web visitors into paying customers, visit our website built specifically to serve home retailers where you can organize a demonstration of the platform with a member of our team of experts.