follow us

Internet 303B Magnetic Web Sites Part 2

February 4, 2012
In my last blog, I tried to understand what makes one web site “stickier” than another. As you may remember, a “sticky” web site is one that is so interesting that consumers “stick” around and use it more than a “slippery” one. I told you that the things that make store are appealing are the same things that make a web site “sticky.” I suggested in my last blog that web sites should get to know the user’s needs. Then, just as a good sales consultant does in a brick and mortar store, recommend products based on those needs,  A useful web site should also allow a consumer to visualize any product they want in any frame color or fabric the vendor offers. If the web site is useful, it becomes “sticky!”

Another thing we do in our store is demonstrate our products. A good sales consultant doesn’t just say a chair is comfortable. They persuade a client to sit in it and find out for themselves. When we show a cantilever umbrella, as we talk about its features, we tilt, rotate, and open/close them, too. I hate to admit it; but, this is an area where web sites can far outshine us. A consumer may not be able to sit in a chair on the Internet; but, a video showing the delight on a user’s face as they site in a motion chair can be very persuasive. And, remember, if a sales consultant flubs a line or forgets to show a feature at my store, they’re done. A video can be reshot until it is perfect and alluring.

To see how effective this can be, I would refer you to a web site for Capital Stoves. I found this site when my brother was looking for a new stove, recently. He was sold on a different brand; one that he had researched on the Internet and had seen demonstrated in a brick and mortar store. Even after all of that, this site changed his mind. Go look. It has over 20 videos about the unit he wanted. They show everything from why the burner was better than the competition to how to cook pancakes on the built-in griddle. He and I were on that web site for over an hour, absorbed by the videos. They even sold me!

Years ago, a rep for one of our cast lines visited their off-shore factory. He took a series of videos which he showed to my sales staff on his return. It showed how the factory hand carved positives, made negative sand molds from them, melted and poured cast aluminum into the molds, cleaned the mold lines, and finally how they applied the hand finishes. We had already had a lot of success with the line before seeing the video; so, I was amazed at the effect seeing the video had on my sales staff. After that viewing, the story they told to clients about the line changed. It became more compelling and interesting. I’ll bet almost every vendor we do business with has a similar story to tell. I’ll even bet almost all have videos telling those stories. Isn’t it a pity they are hiding their lights under a bushel by not publishing these videos on their web sites!

Any, by the way, having a YouTube channel is nice and all that; but, a consumer has to leave your web sit to go to YouTube. These videos should play right on your web site. Remember, we are talking about “sticky” here, not “bouncy.”

There is usually one more step in a brick and mortar sales presentation - - - doing a layout to show the client how the furniture would be arranged and fit in their own outdoor room. Showing a customer a scale drawing of their area and choices on it does two things. First, it impresses them with your professionalism and ties them closer to you. Second, it assures them they aren’t making a mistake.

A “sticky” web site can and should do the same thing. Homecrest does this on their site and I congratulate them for being so forward thinking. The user enters the dimensions of their area which they can alter to show irregular areas. Then they start placing their furniture using movable icons of any piece available in Homecrest’s line. This is powered by Icovia which has 2D, 3D, and tablet editions of their product. In other words,  the technology to do this is already developed and is an easy, low cost, addition to any vendor’s web site. If that is the case, why don’t more vendors have this feature on their web site?

Finally, a “sticky” web site can do something no brick and mortar location can . . . establish a community for their users.  A well thought out web site has an area where users can gather to share their experiences with the site and vendor. This same area is where the vendor or retailer should blog with their users. This community area can also act as a conduit allowing users to communicate with the vendor or retailer. Sure, we can call a consumer after a delivery to see if they are satisfied with their purchase. But, it sure would be nice if I could get them to tell other people about their experience and I am not talking about Twitter or Facebook. A “sticky” web site wants their users to stay on the web site for as long as possible.

See, a “sticky” web site looks and acts a lot like a successful retail store. It becomes a trusted advisor to the user, demonstrates features and benefits that are specific to their needs, helps them easily pick colorways, shows them layouts of their intended purchase to assure them they have chosen wisely, and, finally, gives them an outlet to express themselves to other potential buyers. So, I ask again, “How ‘sticky’ is your web site?”

Yours in confused retailing, Bruce