Earlier I wrote an article with the opening line, “So why is it that 47% of top interior designers purchase products online?” and most of your comments were that the websites offered free freight and lower prices. Wake up gang, that isn’t the major reason designers are buying online. We are losing more business to digital savvy designers that are specifying and buying on the Internet. Jobs that we will NEVER know about. Sure, there are top shelf luxury designers that are price obsessed, but most are looking for easy access to information when and where they want it.
Every time you lose a job to a low-ball bid, you hear about it directly from your customer. It hurts badly and sticks in your mind! All that time, all that effort, amounted to nothing. What about the job at that same design house that was completely specified and purchased online? You knew absolutely nothing about it and were not involved at all. What is worse for your business, losing a job to a low balling #@!*#**, or never getting a whiff of a large job as it was all worked on online?
After the recession, website companies remained unsophisticated and price was their key advantage. The surviving sites, and new designer-oriented sites, offer an addictive combination of an easily navigable user interface and anywhere, anytime accessibility with live solid phone and chat support. This is why talented designers are working on these sites. It has absolutely nothing to do with price. Do not mix these two up. Price competition is not going away, but in the luxury market it is not as big an issue as we portray it. People will take the easiest path first.
If a customer comes in and says they want to order a $6,000 list bathtub from lowestofthelow.com, just let them. Make a note on your calendar to check back when the job is trimming out and ask how that worked out. I think you will remind them not to do that again. I suggest not fighting individual pricing debates, unless it happens often. There will always be sites and stores that offer silly pricing. It is really not worth your team’s time, and you are worth your profit. Take the energy and focus it on the future.
I was not aware how many talented designers were specifying products online until we started to receive RFQs that were 100% built on websites. When we reached out to these good clients, they told us it was nothing against our team or showrooms, it was that our website was hard to work. So they matriculated their favorite brands’ websites that offered them the intuitive interface they craved. Now that hurt. We did everything right except offer our good customers the tools they wanted.
We have to believe and think big. Big like when you opened our business. We knew everyone would come because our look was so damn good. Let’s take that same attitude and build magnetic web sites.
Note: Please take another look at the proposed strategy in an earlier post. “So why is it that 47% of top interior designers purchase products online?” It offers a few tips.
A version of this article appeared in the November 256 issue of DPHA Connections.