For many kitchen & bathroom retailers - just like for many high-street stores - footfall in showrooms is down. Lack of consumer confidence, uncertainty around Brexit and new competition within the industry are no doubt all playing a part in this decline.
Perhaps the most fundamental reason for this however can be pinpointed to the fact that for most of your potential customers, the showroom is the last point of call in a long, well-researched and very considered buying journey.
You see, it’s not 1991 anymore. Rarely will a prospect simply just pop into your showroom without having done some degree of research and having qualified you as a business that they like and trust already. All of your potential customers are connected to the web. They own iPhones, they have tablets and they have computers that provide them with everything that they want at the click of a button.
Every stage of their journey and research up until the point of approaching a stage where they’re serious about making a purchase takes place online. And this means that no longer is it simply enough to have the most beautiful showroom with the most polite and helpful staff in the world. Why? Because if you aren’t able to make the right impression online, many of your potential customers will simply never ever step foot inside your showroom.
Making the right impression and building strong relationships online is critical to the future success of your business. Ensuring that you have an abundance of stellar reviews and that you continually re-engage with prospects during their research and consideration processes is of paramount importance. But, more important than anything else, is your website.
Your marketing activity can either prosper or fail miserably because of your website. Your website is at the heart of your online presence and, in 2019, it’s a digital extension of your showroom that (whether you like it or not) has a huge impact on people’s views of you as a company. Having a great website for your business is no longer a choice – it’s a necessity. It’s directly responsible for prospects’ impressions of you as a brand and it’s ultimately responsible for the number of enquiries coming into your business and the number of sales which you make. A website which looks poor and which is difficult to use doesn’t build the type of relationships you want. It paints a negative image of you as a brand and it’ll drive people away from your site (and business for good). And, guess what? That’s only great for your competitors.
…anything less than a great website will be sabotaging your business and costing you sales.
But what makes a great website?
A great website can change the fortunes of your business but that doesn’t mean it just has to look fantastic. It needs to educate, inform, inspire and accurately showcase your stunning kitchen or bathroom ranges (and it also needs to effectively turn site visitors into qualified enquiries).
So, without further ado, we take a look at some of the most important elements which need to be in place if you’re going to transform your website from something which sabotages your business into something which supports you in your quest to achieving your core objectives…
Your website's most important job is to generate new web enquiries. If it doesn't convert visitors into enquiries, then you need to have a good look at what's going wrong.
To get a handle on the conversion rate of your website, look at how many visitors you generated in any given month (you’ll be able to find this information in your analytics package), and then look at how many people filled in an enquiry form in that month. Divide the number of enquiries by the number of visitors, times by 100 and you’ll get your conversion rate as a percentage.
As we dive further into this blog post, we'll cover off some strategies to improve your conversion rate, but having a multitude of forms and well placed call to actions ('book a free design appointment here', for example) is going to drive up conversion rates no end.
Design and Usability
As mobile devices progress and browsing becomes increasingly accessible, more and more traffic is hitting kitchen and bathroom retail sites on mobile and tablet. The split is around the 50/50 mark for many of our clients, and the ratio of desktop to mobile device will likely be similar for your business, too.
It's now even more important than ever for your site to display well and be user-friendly on a mobile device. In many situations it's fiddly to view through images on a mobile device, so it's important to work out a way to display your images in a manner that's easy to view on a small screen with big thumbs!
With new media channels such as Pinterest and Instagram now very much a part of people's everyday lives, it's important to know that much of a prospect's research phase is spent on these sites. Your job is to give these in-market consumers a chance to do more research on your website - the longer they spend on your site, the more likely they are to enquire.
To do this, you’re going to need a range of imagery. Not only must any imagery on your site be of high quality, but it should cover off some of these other key points, too...
Fast load times - we've all been on sites where images are slow to load. Our tolerance for slow load times is minimal, and potential customers will leave your site because of it. We have a blog post on the Insights page that talks you through how to optimise your website imagery. Click HERE to read it.
High resolution - having grainy imagery on your site causes many problems, but first and foremost it shows a lack of attention to detail which is sacrilege for an interiors brand.
Wide-ranging - you'll know by now that everyone has vastly different tastes, so you'll need to provide a good range of kitchen styles to suit people's needs. Take this with a pinch of salt, though, as sometimes too large a choice creates confusion. 6 or 7 clearly defined styles should do it.
Easy to navigate - your website should make it easy for people to know where to go and what to do. Imagery is high on their agenda, so make sure there's an easily-accessible gallery, as well as clear call to actions and contact details.
Quantitive - it's not uncommon for browsers to look at hundreds of images before forming an opinion on what they want, so give them enough imagery to look at. If someone likes a range, they'll want to view it from multiple angles, as well as looking at close-ups of the finer details.
One of the final parts of the kitchen buying process - for new customers in particular - is to check what other people are saying about you. You can do everything right in the buying process and completely wow a prospect, but a single bad review can hinder your chances of closing the deal significantly.
When it comes to reviews, you can never have enough (good ones, that is). They need to show that they're genuine by including names, locations and imagery of the project where possible. Most people won't choose to read each and every one of your reviews, but flicking through a list of 30-40 great reviews on your website ticks one of the biggest boxes in your prospect's head.
Your website isn’t the only place that should host reviews. Google, Facebook and Trustpilot are high on your prospect’s agendas, so make sure you have a good presence there, too.
Last but not least, your site needs to position your company as experts in the field. You can do this by creating a wealth of useful information for your prospects to read.
One of the biggest issues for someone who’s buying a kitchen for the first time is the process. Remember, these people are letting you loose in their house, so they’ll be mildly apprehensive at the very least! A well-written page on the website describing the whole process of having a kitchen installed is going to go a long way to reassuring a nervous customer.
Others will be wondering about kitchen fashion and colour schemes. No one wants their kitchen to look dated after just a couple of years, so it’s important that you include some information about kitchen fashion trends on your site.
After the look and feel of the kitchen, practicality will be at the forefront of their mind. Modern appliances should be written about, with details around what options might be best for someone on a budget, someone who wants the best of both worlds, and someone who is a keen cook who loves their gadgets.
The more valuable and informative content you can have throughout your site and blog posts, the more time your potential customers can spend on your site (a key metric in driving up your favouritism with major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing).
So, there you have it, a few strategies to get your website in order to make the most of the traffic that comes your way. If you’d like to talk to us about any of these points, feel free to pop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 0121 405 6780.