Lisbiz Strategies: Five big box strategies to put you ahead

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December 21/28; Volume 30/Number 13

By Lisbeth Calandrino

Let’s face it—we’re not in the same category as the box stores. I know you worry about the sales you lose to them, but you need to spend more time on what you can do to stand out from your real competitors: other retailers. The independent retailer should be boasting a personalized, friendly experience that the boxes can’t copy; one that hosts events, like a holiday shoe party, serves cappuccino and has a fun place for the kids to play.

The box stores invest millions in research and development and, if we’re smart, we can capitalize on them to create further differentiation. When it comes to the digital aspects of marketing, they have left many of us in the dust. It’s not that we don’t have the tools; we’re just slower to adapt.

I recently came across a study about the digital intelligence of the box stores published by L2, a member-based business intelligence firm that benchmarks the digital performance of brands. In addition to K-Mart, The Home Depot, Lowe’s and Wal-Mart, its members include Joe Fresh, Williams-Sonoma, Cartier, Tiffany, Sephora and more. The Home Depot earned a score of 144, which is considered the genius level, according to L2. Next ranks Wal-Mart and so it goes.

This particular article ranked these stores on e-commerce, digital marketing, social media and mobile and tablet usage. You can get started in many of these areas quickly and with very little money. You don’t have to hire a separate staff or spend incredible amounts of money to make them work. Utilizing these tools requires that we change our mindsets and take advantage of the new world. It’s the future and it’s here! Following are some strategies to get you up to speed in the digital age.

Know your customer base and the products they buy. Are you tracking what your customers buy? There are so many types of flooring-specific software available that you can use to track their purchases. You need to collect emails as part of every sale as well as non-sale. If you can’t get your salespeople to collect them, give me a call and I’ll give you some ideas.

Segment your customers. Customers purchase different items. You should keep track of exactly what they buy and segment them in your database. This way you will know how to market specifically to them with the kind of information they need, such as cleaning and maintaining their purchases.

Develop a digital design service. Your website should showcase products and relevant information in different layouts. If you feature a photo of a kitchen floor, don’t forget to include the name and style of the product.

Feature videos on your website. Wal-Mart has 10 of the most watched videos on YouTube. You should feature links to tutorials for DIY products as well as design inspiration for a backsplash. Also include videos of your past customers bragging about your store, your installation and your products. Everyone loves to see a smiling face.

Create a strong email marketing campaign. Apparently this is where The Home Depot and Dick’s Sporting Goods really shine. I know lots of you send out emails for different reasons such as promoting a sale or financing offer. According to Greg Incardona, vice president of Follow Your Customer, “An email marketing program is not the same as sending out emails. It is a plan that requires a long term marketing strategy aimed at the target consumer.”

Stay tuned for my next column in which I address what goes into a successful email marketing program.

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