Why this particular subject? “If you look at how the home and interiors sector is performing, you see that in the first six months of 2017, it was the fourth fastest growing sector in terms of online spend – up 26% on the same period in the previous year. A success story! But if we analyze what else is happening online, we see that over half the consumers in this sector go online for information, yet only 10% buy online. That is a fair bit lower than for other sectors. To sum up: online is doing fine, but online sales are lagging behind.”
“Looking at the sales model in the sector, we note that the traditional model of manufacturer, wholesaler and dealer is disintegrating. Wholesalers and brand manufacturers are seeing their roles change and often serve several channels. The same goes for retailers: next to B2C, it is feasible to set up a B2B environment. Then you get market places such as Bol.com and Amazon that are somewhere in between. It is very important to acknowledge this and to make sure you can respond flexibly, and that your platform can change as the market changes. A platform has to be able to support all channels.”
Siebe used real-life examples to demonstrate that the online presentation of many webshops is inadequate, and explained how this could be improved. “It is not surprising that the online presentation can be somewhat lackluster because home and interiors faces a number of very specific challenges. For instance, it sells complicated products such as box-springs beds. What tends to happen is that consumers have to demand a quote for a box-spring. This means handing over all your details before you have a clear view of the options. When you could have used an online configurator. In this way the customer can work out precisely what product he or she is looking for.”
Content, content, content
How to benefit optimally from the growth in online? Answer: content, content and yet more content. The Content Management System (CMS), Product Information Management system (PIM), logistics and commerce (shop) should work in synergy to facilitate relevant content. Using a PIM model, Siebe showed how content can be enriched by using a PIM. Inspiration and shopping have to work hand in hand. One last tip: never lose sight of how responsive or adaptive your webshop design is. The use of smartphones and tablets has become the norm, certainly in this sector.