Selling Furniture on the Net is Hard
A recent article quoted a spokesman from Furniture 123 – us retailers ought not to worry about furniture being sold on the net – web is only 5% of sales.
“Bah!” I thought. “You haven’t worked a shop sales floor for a while mate.” Customers tapping away on their mobiles to find the best deal. Customers with encyclopaedic knowledge putting even the best sales people to the test.
And of course I know exactly what sells on the net, having a web site of my own. And I’ll tell you, if you are a retailer who isn’t spending at least half their time working on the web, then cash in that pension fast.
It is hard not to enjoy a visceral hatred of internet-only retailers. For years they have been like leeches stuck to our ankles. Half of them, total nutters, selling below long run costs. The other half spending ridiculous amounts advertising on Google, dominating a prime advertising medium, as if they were Proctor and Gamble.
We were pouring over our figures last week (another record internet week) and I thought about why we are finding this web selling so hard? Here we were, the company egg-heads, PHD in theoretical physics, BSc in Economics and a BSc in Electronic Engineering sweating the logic out.
We had sampling theory and data flows covered. We had price elasticities and marketing attribution covered. And we had our secret weapon, the geek, who could build our computer from scratch with duck tape and an old washing machine. How could this be so hard?!
Then it dawned on me. It isn’t hard. We have cracked it. What makes us good e-tailers won’t be the fancy web program any more than a shop fit makes a good shop. But our editor in chief has 30 years bed retailing experience. Our telephone sales consultants are all bricks and mortar tried and tested top sales people. Our buyer knows what to buy and at what price it will sell. Us humans will prevail.
And it’s not just us. Argos Beds and Tesco Beds, John Lewis and Feather and Black. I am happy to see us old fashioned retailers are fighting back. It’s not easy. It’s really hard. But the cracks are appearing. The retailers are going to win.
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