Finishing Touches, V3I2

Beyond Your Basic Website

It’s no secret that the internet has transformed marketing and sales for certain industries like books, clothing, and entertainment. However, many shed builders incorrectly assume that digital is not critical to their business because they still do much of their business over the phone or face-to-face.

The reality is 80 percent of consumers interact with brands online before they enter a physical store. Online interactions can take many forms, including reviewing posts on social media, reading online reviews, and looking at potential products on company websites. That digital influence is a critical element of most consumers’ journey to purchasing a product, even if the customer ultimately purchases the product in a traditional brick-and-mortar store.

For shed companies, that means that many of your potential customers are forming opinions about your brand (or your competitors’ brands) before even setting foot in the showroom. Shed companies without a robust digital strategy risk falling behind as digital influence becomes increasingly important to consumers.

This article will explain:
1) The dramatically increasing influence digital sources are having on consumers’ buying decisions.
2) Simple steps your shed company can take to benefit from digital sources.
3) Benefits to both you and your customers of implementing self-guided sales processes including shed configurator software.

Increasing Digital Influence: Summary of Deloitte Study

A 2015 Deloitte study closely examined the degree of influence of online interactions on consumer purchases that did not occur online. That study showed that in 2014, for the home furnishing/home improvement category, 59 percent of purchases were influenced by the consumer’s online interactions. The study also projected that the percentage of purchases influenced by online interactions was climbing fast and would be 65 percent in 2015. For shed builders in 2017, this likely means that a substantial majority of your customers and potential customers are influenced by online interactions before they decide whether to buy from you.

The Deloitte study subdivided the consumer journey into the following segments: 1) find inspiration, 2) browse/research, 3) select/validate, 4) purchase/pay, and 5) return/service. Deloitte found that for the home furnishing/home improvement category, digital influence was critical for the first three stages of the customer journey. Accordingly, shed builders should ensure they have an online strategy that guides consumers through each stage, especially focused on the first three stages of the consumer journey. Here are some examples of strategies to employ in each stage:

Additional Benefits of Digital Program: Improved Buyer Experience and Sales Efficiency

In addition to being a necessity of modern retail, an online strategy can also be a substantial benefit to businesses. Across all categories, consumers are 37 percent more likely to make a purchase if they use social media along the journey, the Deloitte study found. Additionally, 38 percent of home furnishing/home improvement consumers are more likely to spend more due to digital influence. In other words, customers are more likely to buy a shed and are likely to spend more on their shed when influenced by digital sources. That is a compelling return on investment.

Yet there are even more benefits of embracing digital strategies in the form of improved buyer experience, and increased sales efficiency and accuracy. Forty-five percent of consumers say online sources make shopping easier. Even more importantly, 50 percent of consumers would rather be guided through a sale online than receive assistance from a sales associate.

This means that many buyers prefer a self-guided sales process, also referred to as an unassisted, or less-assisted, sale. This is great news for businesses because unassisted sales are far more cost efficient than fully assisted sales. Instead of requiring your sales associates to engage in multiple emails, phone calls, and meetings with potential customers to collect requirements, provide quotes, and close deals, your customers can guide themselves through much of that process.

Obviously, a successful unassisted online sales process requires adoption of some new technologies to create an effective self-guided process. As mentioned earlier, a shed configurator can provide your customers with an engaging buyer experience by allowing them to design their own shed with a visual customization tool. Shed configurators further streamline the self-guided buying experience by allowing for instant and accurate quotes. An additional benefit to shed businesses is that the shed configurator software will also produce a precise, final order form ready for fulfillment.

Summary and Digital Checklist

In summary, it is increasingly important for shed builders to expand their digital presence to attract and retain potential customers throughout the customers’ purchasing journey. This is even true for in-store purchases because most consumers are highly influenced by digital interactions before they visit a store. Shed builders should take inventory of their digital program considering the following checklist:

☑ Create and maintain a social media presence to create brand awareness and provide potential customers with inspiration. Consider including platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.
☑ Make sure you have a beautiful,
uncluttered website using professional photos to showcase your sheds.
☑ Monitor online reviews of your business, including claiming your business profile, responding professionally to both positive and negative reviews, and encouraging positive reviews through follow-up requests to your customers. Consider claiming or creating business profiles on Google Local, Yelp, Angie’s List, Houzz, and Home Advisors.
☑ Enable self-guided sales by providing your customers with a visual shed configurator.


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