“Omnichannel” has become somewhat of a buzzword in the home furnishings industry—and for good reason.
These days, most retailers would fair better with a strategy that integrates different methods of shopping, but it may seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before.
The FAM reached out to several furniture and mattress retailers to talk about their omnichannel strategies and what’s working, and we found something surprising—omnichannel doesn’t have to be as complex as it seems.
While most stores we spoke to are selling through a combination of channels, they rely on a combination of things—from who they sell to and what region they are in—to create a cohesive selling environment.
The first in this series focuses on the mattress store Bedzzz Express.
For some retailers, an omnichannel strategy is not as important to their overall sales as many may make it seem.
“We barely do any business online,” Company President Austin Bond told the FAM when we reached out to ask about his omnichannel strategy. “I can’t even say it’s 1% of our business, honestly.”
That might seem surprising for a mattress retailer in 2022, but Bond says it’s not a problem for his stores. He explained that just living in the Southeast, especially in Alabama, he’s able to watch trends happen throughout the country first, which gives him and his store an adjustment period.
“And I’ve said that for years that we really have a huge thing going for us in that regard,” Bond says about being in the South. “That has been something that we’ve really benefited from.”
However, Bond is not technology-averse, and he says his stores have recently implemented a new website chat feature that works well.
“We have made a push this year by hiring a full-time chat person,” Bond explains. “And that has led to an increase in e-commerce sales. We’ve set up our website to be more of a shopping tool to be used in combination with a physical store. So instead of omnichannel, it’s really just one channel, and we’re just trying to rebrand it all the same.”
Big companies like Mattress Firm make about 10% of their total profit from e-commerce sales— which Bond says is a goal for the store—but so far, he says they’ve been getting by just fine without e-commerce.
“From what we’ve heard, most e-commerce sales are on the low end, sub $1,000,” Bond says. “And we’ve basically lost that customer to Amazon over the last three years or so. I used to be worried about the future of this part of retail, but after seeing what’s happened over the last three years, I’m not, I wouldn’t say I’m scared of it anymore. It’s just a matter of adjusting our business to lose that sale and focus on the ones that actually make us money anyway”
Some of the changes Bond says he made because of this are not looking for sales below $600 and advertising differently.
“We used to advertise and every ad was something like ‘$99 twin’ to get somebody in the door—the goal was to get them on something else once they came in.” Bond says. “But the commodity part of this business has almost entirely gone to Amazon. And I think that will only continue.”
So what advice does Bond have for other retailers?
He says that having a live chat person that you’re actually talking to is extremely important as compared to a robot chat box because people want to talk to real people. Bond’s stores also use Podium for text-based communications, and he says that improving the look of his website in terms of photography on all the product pages.
But what serves the stores best, Bond explains, is the reputation in the market—and that’s something arguably even more powerful than a national e-commerce presence.
“We’ve kind of built a name for Bedzzz Express as a well-known retailer in Alabama,” he says. “So but we have gotten to the point where I think we’re recognized in the state, and that helps a lot.”
Overall, Bond realizes the importance of omnichannel, but since he’s been getting by just fine without it, he says he’s going to watch the trends and go from there.