HFN Summit Speaker: Fostering Community Fosters Sales

Twenty five percent of Pier 1’s e-commerce sales come from a Pier 1 in-store device
November 9, 2017Allison Zisko

Jeff Haddox Jeff Haddox
DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—A great in-store shopping experience entertains consumers, fosters a sense of community among them and can only come about with the help of talented store employees, according to Pier 1 executive Jeff Haddox, who delivered the keynote address during HFN’s Total Home Omnichannel Summit here last week.

“Shopping sometimes is a hassle. What if was a bit more simplistic, more fun, more engaging?” proposed Haddox, who is vice president of e-commerce for the home furnishings chain. “What if it was as much fun as going out to dinner?”

As an example, Haddox described The Workroom, a Toronto-based sewing studio, shop and community space that invites its digital followers to meet up in its store. The Workroom’s online influencers, whose profiles are featured on its website, are paired with newcomers to the store and invited to collaborate with them. In the same way, Pier 1’s in-store events, such as how to set a holiday table or make an arrangement using its faux florals, not only educate but bring neighbors together, Haddox said. In both instances, customers are meeting one another and forming bonds and relationships in person, rather than solely online.

It also boosts sales. Pier 1 invites its customers to pull merchandise from its shelves and walls to “play and learn” on its “create and discover” tables. A nearby iPad enables them to obtain additional product information and purchase online. Twenty five percent of Pier 1’s e-commerce sales come from a Pier 1 in-store device, according to Haddox. “We know showrooming is happening and we embrace it,” he said. Store employees get credit for sales regardless of whether they take place in the store or online. “We eliminate any friction,” he said.

Haddox also stressed the importance of entertaining consumers in stores through an immersive experience, just as Sur la Table does with its cooking classes or Lego does with its play-building opportunities. In both instances, the stores’ products are built into the experience.

Haddox urged his fellow retailers not to ignore “the human element.” According to a rough general estimate, Haddox said, retailers should spend 10 percent of their resources on tools and 90 percent on people. “People bring your brand to life.”

Noting the challenge in managing digital traffic, Haddox advised two strategies: determining the right social media approach for one’s brand and then romanticizing it with user-generated content; and paying close attention to best SEO practices and ever-changing Google algorithms.

Allison ZiskoAllison Zisko | Managing Editor/Tabletop Editor

After 15 years of covering the tabletop industry, Allison Zisko is still as enthusiastic as ever about the dinnerware, glassware and flatware categories. An in-depth analysis of how the category works intrigues her just as much as the latest fashion trends. As managing editor, Allison oversees the daily e-newsletter and works behind the scenes to help produce the print issue each month. She also directs HFN’s housewares coverage and covers the cutlery category. An avid reader, Allison is eager to talk to anyone and everyone about the latest book they are reading.


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