Scott Downs – Haynes Furniture Company
By the time you finish reading this sentence, Amazon will have delivered 100 packages to mailboxes and doorsteps throughout the United States. That’s 1.6 million packages per day, or nearly 5 billion every year—all opened with faith the wares inside are as good as advertised.
Yet even in this digital age, there are products that require a bit more diligence: a new couch for the den, say, or an updated dining-room set. For these, only a first-hand look will do. You might even have to make a day of it.
Scott Downs knows you’d probably rather be doing something else. Thankfully, the CIO for the Virginia-based Haynes Furniture is determined to make the experience painless—even fun.
“Furniture can be a big investment, and people still want to see and touch something that’s going to be in their home for years,” Downs says. “But the process still starts online. So that’s where we’re meeting our customers.”
Redoing the room
When he first arrived at Haynes in early 2017, Downs encountered an IT infrastructure that left plenty to be desired: spotty internet in the stores, a website that was being used strictly for marketing, and so on.
By the end of that year, all of Haynes’ stores—along with all locations for The Dump Luxe Furniture Outlet, the second brand supported by Haynes’ IT team—had been outfitted with high-speed fiber.
But it’s what the fiber enables that’s proven to be the biggest boon. Until recently, the point of sale (POS) process—the time it takes from when the customer decided on a product to when they leave the store—would often take upwards of 20 minutes to complete.
Now, thanks to a fleet of new iPads, one for each of Haynes’ in-store salespeople, customers can add items to a personalized cart in real time. Once they’re ready to check out, the process can be completed in as little as two minutes. If they need time to think, they can access their shopping cart—and pay—from home.
What’s more, Haynes’ salespeople can use a home-design application to show customers what their rooms will look like with the new furniture.
“Our stores are anywhere from 80,000 to 100,000 square feet, so having the sales rep stay with the customer is huge,” Downs says. “They’re able to get answers to questions in real time, because the salespeople have all that information at their fingertips.”
According to Downs, 80 percent of the people who walk into a Haynes location leave without making a purchase. In the past, Haynes would have no way of following up. The company’s iPads have changed that dynamic entirely.
Say you’re looking for a new red leather sofa. After a few hours spent eyeing Haynes’ offerings, you decide to sit on it for a week or two—and maybe take a few room measurements. Within a few days, you might receive an email showing discounts on other leather sofas you might’ve missed.
This is where things get interesting. Using Salesforce, Haynes can create what it calls the customer Journey Builder. If a customer chooses not to open that first follow-up email, Salesforce will put you on a bi-weekly email schedule, to avoid being overbearing.
If a customer opens the email, another branch is triggered, using the product in question to recommend complementary wares—end tables, rugs, lamps, you name it.
“We’re making the experience more personal for the customer. It’s not just mass marketing for the sake of itself,” Downs says.
No time to rest
For the 120-year-old company, the results have been game-changing. Before these tools were implemented, the average ticket for purchases made in-store was around $1,200. The average ticket for purchases resulting from Haynes’ lead-capture tools: $2,300.
Still, the company has no intention of resting on its laurels. When he spoke with Toggle in early November, Downs was coming off a new round of IT hires, many of them aimed at bolstering Haynes’ social media presence and search-engine optimization efforts.
Rolled out in May 2018, the company’s website has become a paragon of e-commerce savvy, featuring detailed product descriptions and incorporating many of the same data-capture capabilities featured in Haynes’ stores.
Further down the road, Downs hopes to explore the potential of augmented and virtual reality, in a way that would bring Haynes directly to the customer, allowing them to explore the store’s wares using their laptop or a mobile app.
“For me, the question you always need to ask is, ‘What have I accomplished?’” Downs says. “I think we’ve accomplished a heck of a lot. And that’s a testament to the team we’ve built and how much the company’s owners have embraced what we’re doing. We have the history and legacy. Now we want to be a trendsetter.”
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