Updated: Aug 8
• There are a ton of silent costs and efforts required to winning with an e-commerce channel
• Competition & access to advanced tools have increased total client acquisition costs
• Online shoppers behave differently from in-store shoppers
• It may make more sense to re-frame goals from online conversion to driving appointments
• Creating an appointment-setting site requires different messaging, tracking & tools
---begin article here---
Watch & Listen from an AI-Generated Actor
It's a rhetorical question right? Seriously, is a digital marketing company going to tell me it's not worth selling products online? Maybe....
It seems like every bedding retailer's goal is to sell a ton of products on their website, it's easy money right? Well, just like everything in the mattress space, nothing is as easy as it seems, and the costs may be much higher than you anticipate in many ways.
GET READY TO INVEST:
No longer are the days where you can simply "have a e-commerce site" and win. And alongside the boom of Bed-in-a-Box e-tailors, there's an incredibly saturated market for the attention of the online shopper. Not only are you pitted against your local competitors, but also nationwide online-only product sites and D2C manufacturing. And with anything in marketing, the more competition, the higher the cost to win.
SERIOUSLY, DO YOU NOT RECOMMEND SELLING ONLINE?
Maybe...maybe not...but just hang with the reasoning for a bit. Here's what you'll need at a minimum to win:
• A complete strategy and way to measure success: You'll need to quickly and creatively convey your unique value proposition in your strategy and propagate that across all of your communication platforms. Make sure you have the tools to measure ROAS, SEO, AOV, and other KPIs... we know the TLAs (three letter acronyms) can be confusing. There is an entire new world of e-commerce concepts that need to be installed and managed on a daily basis to improve your CRO (conversion ratio optimization).
• A fully optimized infrastructure: It's not enough to have a web store and expect to be successful. You need to have a modern, mobile-responsive, highly visual, fast-loading, interactive, easy-to-navigate site that is built to maximize the average 15-45 second average "dwell time" customers spend on websites.
Be prepared to install some email automation for abandoned cart, retargeting, etc, as well as an ad management platform to evaluate ad performance, a social media posting software to automate and scale outreach, SEO management platform to monitor and build organic traffic, and web usage analytics and heat-mapping to track user behavior on the site.
• Dedicated Personnel: No, not just the feeling of dedication...someone that has the exclusive role for updating the site, adding content, seo improvements, navigation & design (UX) improvements, conversion optimizations, new specials, updated graphics, bug fixes & updates and so fourth.
It takes a ton of effort and depending on your particular market, it could be extremely expensive and difficult. Not only do you have to get a shopper to your site, but you're often competing in the red ocean on price, dealing with high-velocity products and doing a lot of automation to capture the estimated 90% of those that abandon their carts at checkout. And the website manager we discussed, his/her salary is going to need to be included in your total client acquisition cost. Is it even worth it?
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT ONLINE SHOPPERS?:
• They are indecisive: Over 90% of those that add products to cart, abandon the cart.
• They spend less: Up to 50% less on average for mattresses. $1,000 vs $1,500.
• They buy lower-margin products. These battle ground products are a red ocean play, often selling at much lower margins.
• They buy fewer items: Online customers attach additional products less often since they are looking to save money and reduce risk.
• They shop around more: They are more price sensitive, often evaluating multiple sites for their purchase.
• They are harder to please: To the tune of 200% - 300% higher return rates.
• They are not as loyal: And will likely buy from another company that offers a lower price.
• They cost more to win: Not only in ad spend, but generally they want a high quality shopping experience (website cost & great offer)
WOW, THAT'S A GLOOMY PICTURE YOU'RE PAINTING...
Don't misunderstand the intent of this article. We are not suggesting that retailers should not be investing into e-commerce, only pointing out some of the silent (and not-so-silent) costs and potential challenges for those getting started or those that are currently trying and wondering why they are struggling to convert business. It should be understood that creating massive value with your website doesn't necessarily have to begin and end with online transactions.
Instead of optimizing the site for online conversion, you may also consider optimizing your site for appointment-setting.
REIMAGINE YOUR WEBSITE GOALS
Over 95% of bedding shoppers begin their journey online. However, most of these are still transacting in-store. Instead of optimizing the site for online conversion, you may also consider optimizing your site for appointment-setting.
Why consider this?
✓ Increase their ticket average to allow the customer to experience the difference (step-up)
✓ Increase margins and attachment rates by offering a complete solution for sleep wellness
✓ Educate the customer properly to introduce them to the right products which lower return rates and increases customer satisfaction
✓ Create a relationship and earn referrals, repeat business and online ratings
Making products available for purchase online should still be part of a retailer's overall strategy, but the #1 goal for most sleep shops should be to get them from "click to brick". By Appointment-only bedding retailers are proving this concept is not only viable, but highly profitable!
HOW DO WE CONVERT OUR SITE?
• Creating "by appointment" engagement touting a proven system, experts, or some unique process. This may also require booking & automated SMS and email systems found in appointment-setting software.
• Incentivizing the behavior: Offering an in-store incentive (all of those that keep their appointment receive a free gift e.g.)
• Offering in-store exclusive product options
• Creating scarcity & urgency in the offer
• And most importantly, making sure to have mechanisms to track this conversion to understand the full picture.
The feedback we get is that most small/medium sized sleep shops are really struggling to convert business online today, but if the strategy were reframed, retailers could make a massive impact in their business utilizing their sites and leaning into their super power....their expertise.