Our MD Simon Haven talks about how one of our clients have positioned themselves to be in the best possible shape to deal with the current unexpected challenge.
From manufacturer to digital retailer
I know this is top of most retailers' minds right now, with closed stores and Covid-19 ripping through the country at such a pace that the government is forcing people to #stayhome. I just came off a call with Home Décor, our client who manufactures sliding storage solutions and sells them under the Spaceslide brand (among others). What became apparent, as we discussed the impact of closing their showrooms (something they did well in advance of being forced to in order to protect their team), was that over the past 6 years all of the incremental changes and improvements we’d been making to deliver their offering digitally, meant that they can continue to trade through these uncertain times.
More than just e-commerce
With their Spaceslide brand, Home Décor, have achieved true digital transformation. This isn’t just selling doors online, this is a business that uses digital technology to serve their customers, online and in the real world. Yes, there is a transactional, e-commerce website, but this is the tip of a digital iceberg.
You can read the detail of the configurator and e-commerce site we built with Home Decor here and how that links orders right into their back office and manufacturing systems – we also delivered a bit of very clever AI to assist in cutting glass to reduce waste, the true wonder of this is described in the piece I wrote here.
A suite of video guides help customers to get the right measurements and install their own made to measure with minimal fuss. The Home Décor team using sitecore CxM carry out regular testing and refinement of their website and digital channels and have recently implemented personalisation strategies based on specific user choices. Back to that conversation about shutting down the showrooms, we have connected teams - who can deal with customer enquiries, help design wardrobes, and respond quickly to requests for assistance.
All made to measure wardrobe doors are delivered through the configurator, meaning that the details passed into the manufacturing team are accurate and go directly into a dynamics AX ERP system that ensure the manufacturing and supply chain can plan their workload. The manufacturing process involves a large degree of hand making, but where automation can take place it does – cutting of wood glass and metal to order is all done using technology and their production process has been adapted to be delivered with social distancing and deliveries are going out with relative normality – thee is currently no change to the 2-3 week lead tie from design to delivery.
The shut down of the showrooms raised some questions for Home Décor – there is a segment of the audience that likes to see the end product before buying, how could we best serve these customers – we already allowed sample ordering, but, the solutions for these customers was already there – Spaceslide have ‘virtual’ showroom tours which show the product in situ and allow a customer to explore the store from the comfort of their device.
With all the additional time inside, it is possible that people are going to want to improve their homes – but with all this uncertainty Home Décor wanted to make this option as simple as possible so are offering Buy Now Pay later on all of their sliding storage solutions.
Digital transformation the reality
The reality is that Home Décor didn’t set out with a huge digital transformation mission – they wanted to serve their customers better and offer something distinctly better than the high pressure salesperson sat in your living room. Their digital transformation sensibly took incremental steps towards creating something that is truly digital an useful and didn’t break the bank in the process. You can do this too – and the best news is that for a lot of it you’ll be able to do it quickly. It takes creative thinking and some clear outcomes, but as I’ve highlighted time and time again it is amazing what you can achieve in a short space of time.
The world is a different place overnight
And we are all having to adapt to these changes – if you are struggling with this, we can help, our nimble methodology means we can help you move quickly and effectively to ensure that, like Home Décor, you are well placed to survive and ultimately thrive. We also are offering anyone looking to help small, local businesses during this time our services pro-bono, so please don’t be afraid to get in touch and ask for advice – we’ve already run a couple of remote workshops / advice sessions to make a positive difference in these crazy times.
Food for thought
If you have had to close your doors and are worried – then here are a few tings to think about (as I’m sure you already are).
- What do you currently have that could be re-used or repurposed to serve your customers digitally or is there a way to use what you have got differently?
- Reach out, ask for assistance, you may find that there are other companies / organisations that will eb able to help with distribution, advice, video conferencing, etc. Stay connected – we are all forced into some kind of isolation, stay connected and get your team together regularly (we meet for a virtual fika everyday)
- Get creative or get someone else to be for you
- Stay safe and look after your team and customers, this will all be over at some point.