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Don't Be Intimidated. Use The Web To Your Advantage

By Renee Kaiser Electrolux Small Appliances

Each holiday season brings waves of news reports about the explosive growth of online retailers at the expense of brick and mortar businesses. Think back to last year's stories that talked about consumers who walked into big electronics retailers to check out flat screen TVs then bought their flat screens online.

Independent floor care retailers don't have to fall victim to becoming the showroom for some other business' sale. You can use the Internet and your showroom to your advantage.

Here are five approaches to help you make the sale.

1. Make your showroom experiential. Take product out of the box. Set up demonstration areas in the showroom, so consumers can "test drive" the product. This gives you the opportunity to do what you do best – assisted selling. Point out the features that will make their cleaning routines faster, easier and more thorough.

2. Stress your repair services, parts, accessories and central vacuum installation capabilities.

3. Examine your suppliers' Internet policies. Do they price the products they sell online at the MSRP you charge in your store? Do they compensate dealers when consumers purchase products on manufacturer online stores? Do they alert dealers when consumers in their communities make an online purchase, so dealers can follow-up with those customers to promote accessories, service and installation? Electrolux Central Vacuum Systems took those important steps when it set up its online store, buybeamonline.com.

4. Be convenient. The Internet is open around the clock every day of the year. Clearly, independent floor care retailers can't maintain a 24/7 showroom schedule. But it may be worth examining your hours of operation. Are your showroom hours limiting your ability to draw customers? Could you earn additional business by expanding hours during the holidays or during peak home improvement seasons? Does your website deliver a powerful selling message? And, does it give the consumer an opportunity to request a quote?

5. Make sure consumers know about you. Create a marketing program that explains what makes you different from other floor care retailers. Include Internet strategies in that program, so that if a consumer decides to browse online, you have an opportunity to capture their interest.

If you have some other effective strategies to stand out amid a growing and competitive online marketplace, I'd love to hear about them. Send me your thoughts at Renee.kaiser@electrolux.com.

I also want to express a heartfelt thanks to our many BEAM, Electrolux Preferred and Sanitaire Professional Dealers for a solid performance in 2013 and a solid foundation to build on in 2014.

Happy holidays.

Renee Kaiser is national field sales director for Electrolux Small Appliances. A veteran of the home care products industry, she makes her home in Matthews, N.C.

Reprinted from Floor Care & Central Vac Professional, December 2013