In 1992, Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign famously quipped, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
And in 2016, I’m here to tell the kitchen cabinet e-commerce business, “It’s the customer experience, stupid.”
If you’re in the business of selling kitchen cabinets online, you need to ask yourself:
“How come other websites can sell expensive items to the public, and I can’t?”
Because other websites are selling big-ticket items online, and people buy them.
- Amazon.com sells expensive jewelry
- Zappos sells designer women’s shoes
- Carvana sells Porsches online
Think this has nothing to do with your business? Wrong. You can learn a lot from Amazon and the like. That is, if you want to get serious about selling kitchen cabinets online.
If not, you’re free to stop reading and go home.
How Amazon.com solved the classic retail problem
Until recently, pricey jewelry, clothing, and cars were classic retail sales. Consumers needed to go to a store and touch and feel these items before they’d be willing to buy.
Online retailers like Amazon.com built that trust by improving how they presented their goods online. More images, 360° views, and even videos of their items gave consumers the sensory experience they were looking for.
So, now it’s normal to buy high-end items just by seeing them on a computer (or tablet, or smartphone) screen.
(Many) Kitchen cabinet retailers are stuck in the Stone Age
Cabinet retailers, on the other hand, still force customers to visit their showrooms.
You and your cabinet business can stay several steps ahead of your competition if you remember customers don’t want to visit your showroom.
Forward-thinking cabinet manufacturers and retailers can plainly see the market trends and know that they have to sell more online. Consumers want to buy cabinets online for the same reasons that they buy other products online:
- It saves time
- It costs less
- It’s just easier
But there’s a hitch. One of the most significant reasons why consumers don’t buy kitchen cabinets online is because they want that same sensory experience. They want to:
- See the cabinets
- Open and shut them
- Review a full display
So the smart businesspeople are bringing the kitchen cabinet showroom to them – on their computer!
I know from experience that online kitchen cabinet retailers who “get it” sell more cabinets. They know the 3 steps to giving online customers the showroom experience.
Step #1: Talk about the entire kitchen, not just the cabinets
Very few kitchen cabinet buyers change their cabinets without considering or changing anything else in their kitchen.
So, at a minimum the online retailer must work with the customer to combine the cabinet door with the pulls and the countertop. Better online retailers put together a small 15″ x 15″ palette showing the selected cabinet door and handle with a large countertop sample – and even a backsplash sample! The customer pays for this and it usually results in a sale.
Step #2: Let your customer see how their kitchen will look
Kitchen customers want to know what their new kitchen will really look like.
The answer is showing your kitchen customers photorealistic images of their kitchen. It takes a little more time to render them but it’ll allow the online customer to truly see their entire kitchen.
My company OKD gathers as much information as possible about the entire kitchen and provides your customer a near photo quality image of their kitchen.
Even most showrooms don’t help their customers this much. It’s your advantage that they don’t.
Step #3: Help your customer get a feel for the cabinets
Then there’s the online kitchen customer who wants to open and shut the cabinet door, and feel how it works. OKD knows how you can satisfy that customer, too.
First we explain in simple terms how their cabinets are built and will work.
We also point out that aside from the differences between frameless and framed construction, that for the homeowner cabinet construction differences are minimal.
We suggest that they visit a home center and review a cabinet with the same characteristics as the ones we’re selling online. They’re often happy to do this because they can browse lots of other kitchen products while visiting.
Buying kitchen cabinets online is a win-win situation
Through this personalization we’ve taken away most of the barriers to purchasing online. There are no surprises because the customer has touched and felt what’s most significant in their kitchen; and have also received an excellent and highly understandable design.
That’s how you facilitate a sale between the skeptical customer and the innovative cabinet business owner.
Not by complaining that your customers just don’t understand you.