The Fundamentals of Ecommerce for Home Furnishings Manufacturers - Part One: Program Development

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By Josh Walter, CEO
BrandJump

The ecommerce channel in the home furnishings space is becoming increasingly competitive and consequently more challenging to maintain a prominent position online. Though there is huge opportunity for growth, today’s market demands you be much more proactive in how you go about running your ecommerce business.

In this three-part series, we’ll lay out the key components of creating a thoughtful ecommerce strategy to ensure that you’re set up for success: program, process and promotion. This series is relevant whether you’re well established with your online partners and thinking about the next few years of growth, or you’re just starting to contemplate the idea of creating an online strategy.

In part one, we’ll examine the fundamentals of setting up an ecommerce program: pricing policy, online partner selection, and online assortment.

Pricing Policy

Before the days of GPS, you wouldn’t dream of embarking on a major journey without a map. In ecommerce, you shouldn’t dream of embarking on a new program set-up without a MAP (that’s minimum advertised price) policy. Your MAP policy is vital to leveling the playing field across all channels of distribution.

When creating this policy, it’s important to outline the nuances you’re comfortable with — basically the dos and don’ts — and articulate these clearly so that all of your distribution partners know the parameters they can work within. Be sure to call out any specifics if selling to-the-trade has any additional pricing flexibility.

It is also imperative to develop a process internally for how you plan to enforce the policy. This should include each step to ensure compliance. It’s quite common that a manufacturer will create a robust pricing policy, but not as common that it’s regularly enforced. If you want your policy to have teeth and to be respected, consistency is critical.

Retail Partner Selection

When choosing which internet retail partners to align yourself with, “less is more”. This could mean you’re on the higher end of one retailer’s site and on the lower end of another, but most important is to ensure you’re partnering with retailers that can properly reach your intended audience.

Look for internet retailers that are forward thinking, well-funded, innovative with technology, have relevant traffic, and have an aesthetic that matches your brand and products. By diligently researching and understanding the internet retailers you work with, you’ll increase your likelihood of controlling your brand, and certainly the probability of conversion.

Product Selection

Taking the time to define an online product assortment is one of the most important exercises you can engage in as you build out your ecommerce strategy. The online shopping experience is not the same as buying in a showroom, so it’s critical to offer as robust a selection as you can, while balancing simplicity so that your online assortment is comprehensible to the consumer.

If you have an easy to understand product line (few sizes, few finishes), then consider offering the breadth of the assortment. If you’re line is complex and extremely option heavy (think, upholstery with lots of fabrics), then you may want to consider slightly limiting options.

When it comes to your online partners, while there will always be some overlap in their target demographic, each is still a bit different with the types of styles, categories and products they do well with. Consider collaborating with them to determine whether it makes sense for them to carry your entire online selection, or just some of it.

It’s important to remember that how you set-up your ecommerce program from the beginning can determine your success in the end. At BrandJump, we are experts this space. We will collaborate with you to develop a successful online strategy tailored to your brand. Let’s connect and work together to build the plan that is best for you.

 
Josh Walter