How Billboard Furniture increased sales with Cloudshelf
In-store ecommerce with Cloudshelf : Our story with Billboard Furniture
To compete against pure online players, independent retailers need to use their store as their unique competitive advantage. They can do this by using digitalisation to match the convenience of online players, to which they add the unique delight of their in-store experience.
During the last two years we have observed their digitalisation has accelerated with the deployment of e-shops and other services to balance the drop of footfall. Independent retailers are challenged by pure online players who can often provide more product, good price and fast shipping.
Combined with the pandemic, it has been very hard to maintain their footfall. But they are now investing more to create a unique experience in-store to help them bring back the pleasure of shopping on the local high street. This in-store experience is a factor of store design, great product merchandising and most importantly the human element of good customer service. It brings an important difference vs online shopping only and so helps to increase their footfall and conversion.
However, omnichannel experiences are becoming the norm for clients who now use these both and go online and in-store before buying a product. It forced brands - especially the newer ones - and independent retailers to build their E-commerce shops and accelerate - or even start - their digitalisation. Hence, through ecommerce providers like Shopify, they can sell a wider range of products than they can do in-store and so increase their revenue.
They’re also now using more digital products for their marketing and to manage their stock. For example, wholesale marketplaces like Faire or Ankorstore allows retailers to have a wider choice of products without managing costly stock.
Consumers still want to buy in-store
For years the leading narrative has been to say that once consumers have shifted online, their spending is lost to Brick-and-Mortar retail. Yet during the pandemic we saw the opposite. Consumers who had successfully shifted online returned to store shopping as soon as it became possible.
This matches consumer surveys by PwC, IBM and others that point to all generations of shoppers saying they prefer the in-store experience.
The Shopify future of retail report is showing that shoppers still love to shop at their local high street and in fact more people are now craving the in-store experiences that they have missed out on in the last two years.
“54% of consumers they surveyed say that, over the next year, they’re likely to look at a product online and buy it in store, and 53% are likely to look at a product in store and buy it online … Consumers who are significantly more likely to buy from brands with a local presence is 47%”.
So,“to stay competitive, 40% of brands surveyed said offering experiential retail would be a top priority for them in the next year” and “32% said they’d be establishing or expanding their use of pop-up and in-person experiences in the next year”.
Local Data Company, reports that there are 2157 more independent retailers in 2021 than in 2020 in GB. First step of a longer trend? Over the 3 years since 2017, they report over 6,000 net new independent retailers, and Deloitte say in their 2022 report that this trend is accelerating.
A good example is that Digitally Native Vertical Brands (DNVB) or Direct 2 Consumer (D2C) are investing in brick and mortar and are becoming a benchmark for the customer experience in store. They are growing fast and are starting to branch out to brick & mortar locations as they see online customer acquisition costs sky rocket. Rahul Welde, former EVP Digital Business at Unilever told us that all Unilever's D2C acquisitions over the last 2 years involved some form of store retail, at least for branding and marketing purposes, even if not always for customer acquisition.
So having a physical retail option can be less costly for these retailers and allows them to grow their brand and provide shoppers with an unforgettable experience in-store. That can take the form of pop up events and short term leases in order to expand their businesses.
Retailers are not yet optimising the conversion of their footfall
With the omnichannel strategy and the improvement of the experience in-store (with more free space) Independent retailers do not display their full range of products.
As Retail Touch point report, it can create a frustration for shoppers that can leave stores without buying :
- They couldn’t find the product they needed (67.3%)
- The store didn’t have the items they wanted (66.3%)
- Lines were too long (51.3%)
A report by IHL finds that retailers are globally losing $1 trillion of sales to store shoppers who came in wanting to buy something but then failed for one of the reasons above.
Staff lacking detailed product knowledge or experience to drive sales in-store and internal competition between sales online vs in store create additional hurdles.
Billboard Furniture started its digitalisation with Shopify
Billboard Furniture in London is selling the finest and most modern styles of furniture.
When speaking with store manager Deepesh and store owner Deen we were able to identify some hurdles they had come across over the last two years.
They explained to us that “It was very hard to convince customers to buy goods after lockdown as they were worried that another lockdown would happen and their goods would not be delivered”.
They followed on from this and said “Customers had money to buy the furniture and we saw higher sales than we anticipated, however these higher sales didn’t cover the sales we missed because of the lockdown periods”. He explains to us that they have a lot of products that are not on display and also many items that are not listed on the website, and so it is really important for them that they have all stock in a central location for customers to be able to purchase directly. Billboard Furniture also advised us that “We launched our e-commerce site in late 2019. In recent months we plan to make the website fully functional".
“Our website is currently managed by staff who also manage our 6 stores across London, so currently not all products are listed on the website and this is a work in progress as it can often be quite time consuming to manage both”. They also said, “Prior to launching the website all sales were generated through our stores in London by presenting catalogues to customers that display our product range”. When we asked why they didn’t use the website, they confirmed what we had heard from other retailers “if we tell a customer they can see the product on the website, they say they will check once they get home, and 9 times out of 10 the sale is lost”
As Cloudshelf allows retailers to display in store all their products available online, Billboard furniture was keen to join our pilot.
In December 2021, we then launched Cloudshelf in Billboard Furniture in their sleek store in Peckham.
Billboard Furniture increased sales in-store using Cloudshelf
In first meeting Billboard Furniture, we learnt that they were keen to try out Cloudshelf in their Peckham store as they warmed to the idea of presenting their beautiful product images on a screen to customers instead of having to use their many catalogues to present their Furniture range.
By showcasing their products, Cloudshelf has helped them to close several sales in-store by presenting their variety of furniture products on screen. After coming out of lockdown and sales being inconsistent throughout this period they were glad to have a sales tool in-store that could help them to increase sales.
Their Cloudshelf allows shoppers to view their Furniture range on screen and the staff in-store have been able to take this opportunity to really show off their stunning photos of their products from their website and upsell in-store, increasing their chances of closing the sale in-store. We are delighted to have set up a 2nd Cloudshelf in their store in Camberwell with a plan to roll-out in their remaining 5 stores by the summer of 2022.
Cloudshelf helps to grow sales in-store
Giles Corbett, founder of Cloudshelf, has a vision that commerce in local high streets fuel the life of our cities and towns. To help them compete with pure online players, we need to help them with technology they can easily adopt to increase their sales.
It was critical for Giles that Cloudshelf be simple enough for a business owner to get up and running especially when they have no special technical knowhow or time to spend on it.
Cloudshelf is an in-store sales solution for shoppers and sales assistants. It provides the opportunity to display, in-store on interactive screens, all products that retailers have on their websites but are unable to display in-store due to lack of space or limitation of stock.
Cloudshelf is a Shopify app and can be set up in just a few minutes to create a flawless attract screen that works in a speedy and simple way to deliver as a sales tool or a self-serve option for shoppers.
To make it happen, it leverages the content of the retailers Shopify store. It can then highlight a specific range of products.
The thought of being able to upsell an additional range that is not visible in-store, but that can be displayed on an interactive screen laying out products in a simple, user-friendly way is music to a lot of ears.
Here is a link to our video on how Cloudshelf is helping our retailers.
We launched the first version of Cloudshelf in the summer of 2021 with a pilot program to improve the product based on the feedback of the independent retailers. After a few months, we now have more than 40 users in London and plan to expand to 100s of retailers in the next 12 months.
You can see reviews from our current retailers on the Shopify app store here.
Providing a solution for independent retailers has allowed us to build some meaningful business relationships with brilliant retailers along the way and we are delighted that we were able to share our story about how we partnered with Billboard Furniture.
We are continuously assessing the market and getting feedback from our retailers on current footfall and activity in the retail sector. We feel their constant battle to move with the times and create a meaningful customer experience for their in-store shoppers.
We are hoping to grow a community of retailers where they can come together and share their experiences.Here’s a link to our app which you can install whilst logged in to your Shopify account:
To find out some more about how Cloudshelf could help you to increase sales in your store feel free to contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org.