Dan Mounsey, marketing manager at Hill’s Panel Products (HPP), shares his ideas on how retailers can make their websites generate leads
Retailers must be very clear about their customers and business strategy to develop effective, engaging websites and benefit from the internet.
The primary aim for many websites should be to instigate initial contact with potential sales leads, while offering consumers useful and inspiring content.
At HPP, we have more than 2,000 trade customers, which includes a wide variety of retailers, ranging from showroom owners to website-only e-commerce retailers. Some have basic information-only websites, while others have highly complicated, bespoke sites.
Retailers should be clear from the start what their endgame is. I’ve seen many retailers being promised the world by website developers, without either party really realising how complicated and expensive online retailing in our sector can be.
The best approach for many retailers will be to aim for a clear lead-generation strategy. A website should state clearly why visitors should become customers. Use good images, testimonials and calls to action.
For most retailers, a website’s main purpose should be to initiate first contact. Retailers can then aim to convert these leads into sales. Smaller independents are at their best in these situations, which is a key difference between them and the ‘sheds’.
Selling kitchens and bedrooms purely online can work – but only in very specific circumstances and for those who really understand the requirements.
“Retailers with websites should take full advantage of extra support available from suppliers”
Dan Mounsey, marketing manager, Hill’s Panel Products
Basic e-commerce websites can deal with simple components like handles and standard, off-the-shelf kitchen and bedroom doors. However, selling customised products with different sizes, drilling and specifications, is much more complicated and expensive, and it’s also a very competitive market. So be clear about your approach.
Further to promoting enquiries and sales, websites can offer consumers tools such as online designers and visualisers to create a more interactive experience. Retailers should check with their suppliers to ensure they are accessing all available aids.
For example, we’ve created a suite of free tools and support material that our customers can use on their websites. This digital support extends what we do with print catalogues, sample packs and other physical marketing aids.
We’ve also created website elements from scratch and extended existing functionality based on customers’ ideas. Many of the best ideas come from our customers and, if realistic, we try to fulfil them.
Examples include developing website elements for Fox Wardrobes in Kent. Martin Fox told me the business had never worked with a company so open with their technology to help a customer promote products and services online.
We can also deliver product data to different types of customers. In the past, we’ve exported our entire product data set for a major replacement kitchen door company. This meant they could import it easily on to their website, which was a massive benefit for them, saving time and money, and maximising accuracy.
So, retailers with websites should take full advantage of extra support available from suppliers. Ultimately, developments that benefit retailers also benefit KBB suppliers.
Finally, a website should never be considered finished. Websites always need fresh content and new ideas. They should evolve with your business. Launching is just the start. The current HPP website has been five years in the making and we’re only just scratching the surface.