First I want to start off by addressing some of the conversations I’ve had with people about my blog from last week, “Is Serta/Simmons In A Death Spiral?” If you thought there was a sharper edge to my comments than what you normally read from me it’s because there was. My post was written after I spoke to a few people that were fired from SSB after 20 years of service so my heart was heavy with those stories and I was frustrated for them. Truth is, I helped build that company with over 9 years of service, managing over 30% of the volume for Serta, Inc. at the time and I’m still a homer. SSB has a lot of very talented people in the organization and will likely figure it out which I think is a good thing for the industry in many ways. HOWEVER, if you read that blog and it upset you, chances are you are on the inside looking out and it could have struck a nerve because some part of it was true for you? If you think what I wrote is inaccurate in any way give me a call and let’s set the record straight. (FYI…I did reach out to SSB prior to the podcast and posting my blog for some of their insight and didn’t hear back.) I try to use Q’s Views to shine a light on topics that can help the industry grow and realize our potential with the consumer; my job is to serve the industry with what I write, or at least that’s how I see it. But sometimes what you read from me is the voice of many as I try to capture what people are thinking and maybe not saying. I won’t always get it right so hold me accountable, but you will always get my truth which is the best I can do.
Listen to Kinsley and I discuss the Serta/Simmons situation in this episode of Dos Marcos.
I continue having these conversations with industry insiders about e-commerce and the impact the direct to consumer channel is having on brick and mortar and a successful path forward is becoming more clear by the day. So what is it? I have a few thoughts:
- Be intentional with your marketing message. Take on the D2C guys and create some doubt with the consumer…don’t be passive and let them eat away at your business! Have you heard from your customers about digital bed buying fails and if so do you share them? Do you directly compare what you have to what is sold on line with photos in your social media channels? Do you trumpet the awesomeness of your people and how they serve your customers?
- Use the advertising of your digital competitors and bring some of their beds into your store so that consumers can see them in person. Don’t sell against them necessarily. Show them what they are and then sell your customer something better. BAM.
- You guys have roots in your community and if you have done any job at all connecting to the people in your markets then leverage that and remind them that you have THEIR best interest at heart. If they believe that you are in it to help them sleep better then they will trust you with the purchase. People WANT TO BUY LOCAL, you just have to give them a reason.
- If you aren’t connecting with your neighbors then get with it! Everybody has a great story to be told so what’s yours? If this isn’t happening, well….I have talked about this so much by now, you can finish that sentence on your own.
- Brick and mortar guys have a selling process and selection to serve the consumer. Most of you have several products that would crush what most people are selling online. If you don’t, then we need to talk about Spink and Co. 🙂 Not only can you beat them on a product that is likely going to be better than what they get shipped in a box, but you can address their other sleep issues like a pillow that is FITTED for them, adjustable bases that they can test in your store, and protectors and sheets to complete an awesome sleep experience.
- The reality is that the lower end price points are moving to Amazon and other D2C e-tailers fast. Not only that but this focus on promotional price points is commoditizing the memory foam market. I’m not saying you need to surrender the opening price points, actually, I would suggest the opposite. As my father Nick Quinn preaches, “out assort them with a vertical display and win the battle on the low end you FREAKING MORON!” Okay he isn’t that harsh but I feel like he says it a lot and with some serious passion so it stays as is so that you really feel his point. You brick and mortar guys can bring customers upmarket much more effectively than a website can don’t you think?
- The digital guys are having trouble making money online because acquisition cost are so high that they are making a move into brick and mortar stores. You think learning the tricks of the trade in e-commerce is hard, it’s going to be every bit as tough for them to make a go of it in your world so keep that in mind. Creating their own stores is one approach which will be difficult because most of them don’t have the product line to support a traditional stand-alone space but they are getting there. If they’re trying to place a bed in your store, then they have to make sure the product is competitive with everything else you carry which is going to be very tough for them to do, given what they currently offer.
Beating the e-commerce guys is very doable, but you have to get your strategy right.
Some of what I’ve said in this post is a repeat of past blogs but I’m going to keep saying it until it makes the desired impact. I am having a blast working with some of my new retailers in trying to custom fit a creative solution for them in their markets and you know the biggest take-a-way we have? This isn’t a problem, it’s a very big opportunity if you attack it with the right strategy! (My philosophy…we want to sell our beds but we believe that being a true partner means helping your retailer in any way you can so if you think I can add value to what you do, then I’m here to help. It’s in my best interest to see our retail partners thrive which means helping them sell all of their products, including the guys I compete against. If I can help them build a good marketing approach that turns them into the clear leader in their market, then we work together and get it done.) Also, if you need someone to help you get better results promoting your product and store on the internet, I’ve got a guy. Send me an e-mail at email@example.com and I will hook you up.
Sorry for the extra long post today but I had a lot to say! What did I miss? Hit me up in the comments section!
Stop whining about the e-commerce guys and start kicking some digital butt.