NAPLES, Fla. — The world is changing, digital marketing expert Jake Freedman says, and that means retailers must improve their online and in-store shopping experiences.
Strong digital tools are a key to retail success these days, according to Freedman, the founder and CEO of Dovr Media.
The former faculty member at MIT has taken his furniture experiences and brought them to bear at the Dovr family of companies, where the company’s Brilliant platform is a tool for furniture retailers to sell more online and in their stores.
Freedman shared several “infallible laws” of the digital, advertising and communications worlds, beginning with the importance of keeping score. “If you don’t measure it,” he said, “you can’t improve it.”
Advertising accessibility is another key, Freedman said. Retailers need to know how much money their ad dollars are generating, and they need to advertise across several channels. Consistency is also vital, he added. It’s important to advertise “for any day that ends with a ‘y.’”
Search engine optimization is “the 800-pound gorilla,” Freedman continued. “What are you doing to be relevant?”
Retailers must manage their reputations. Why would a consumer buy $3,000 worth of furniture at a retailer not ranked as highly as another, he asked. In a similar vein, he said that consumers won’t eat seafood at a restaurant with a one-star rating.
It’s important to let customers create your online content, Freedman said. “By having stakeholders and employees comment and review your store, your digital footprint increases and improves, driving more sales.”
How should retailers respond to customers? Quickly. “The longer the response to a negative review takes, the longer other customers have to view it,” Freedman said. “Take control back.”
And, he added, it’s critical to be courteous. “You MUST always respond kindly and courteously,” Freedman said. “Ensure a clean track record for excellent customer service.”
Another key to digital success is website accessibility, he said. Retailers’ websites must work on desktop and mobile devices “with excellence.”
Freedman said clicks can drive traffic to brick-and-mortar stores, as 50% of in-store visits are to “try an item” before purchasing online.
“Click to ship” is also critical, Freedman added. He noted that 910 million packages were shipped between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year.
He shared a “digital communication guide” to show retailers some of the features they should provide online.
- Think a step ahead and anticipate the customer’s next purchase
- Inform customers of new purchases and create a sense of urgency to shop while it lasts
- Host events and sales aimed to drive online and in-store traffic
- Provide fast, cheap delivery options
- Build a sense of community by participating in community activities and supporting small businesses to increase trust in your area.
Freedman also discussed the importance of suggestive selling, offering consumers room packages for one price. And he said flexible, real-time finance offers are an important way to drive online sales.
Advanced retargeting is also important. “If a client purchases a bed from you,” Freedman said, “the retargeting efforts should be focused on all things bedroom.”
He said interactive shopping can also help drive online sales. Look books and flip books show consumers several buying options, enabling them to furnish their entire home when they buy into a lifestyle look.
Freedman wrapped up by addressing “the three C’s: Community, charity and causes,” reminding the audience that those efforts and causes separate one retailer from another.