How The Company Store is reimagining customer experiences for pandemic-era growth

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Throughout the pandemic, some retail categories have been inherently successful. Home furnishings and décor are among them; with consumers spending so much more time at home, updates and renovations flourished. 

Criteo data from the first half of 2020 showed sales for items like outdoor furniture sets up 434% year over year, with other home items like folding chairs and stools, activity tables and rocking chairs not far behind.

However, just because consumers were investing in their living spaces did not mean that home furnishings retailers could sit back and relax. The influx of consumers also brought a whole host of new competition. If companies were not prepared to differentiate themselves, they risked being left behind. 

The Company Store responded: Its marketing team made sure, throughout 2020, that it was communicating its differentiators along every step of the buying journey. 

Finding new customers in a pandemic

As a 110-year-old business with a rich heritage, The Company Store was no stranger to driving customers online. That said, the pandemic did bring a host of new online audiences, many of whom had never before purchased at-home items, such as bedding, online. 

The first tactic The Company Store used to find new customers was ensuring its teams had the right online prospecting tactics in place. Identifying and targeting high-value customers, and serving them highly relevant ads, was a key strategy. 

“Any retailer nowadays needs to target, optimize, change and try, try again,” said Corinne Bentzen, CEO of The Company Store. “Criteo has been a key partner in similar audience targeting, and more recently, we have seen success with commerce audiences, which is specifically going after high-value prospective customers and serving relevant products, which is driving above-average AOV.”

The Company Store also rebranded its website in March 2020. While the brand always planned to spend the year making its site better, the influx of online shoppers made it even more important to improve browsing capabilities and increase meaningful content. 

“The pandemic only accelerated us — making our site better, making it easier to shop, showing products in an easy-to-browse way and giving consumers a breadth of content to interact with once they were interested in a specific product,” said Bentzen.

How the company kept consumers coming back

While pure-play e-commerce retailers have seen many benefits emerge from the model over the last year, the rise in vaccinations in the U.S. is allowing consumers to feel more confident re-emerging into society. In many cases, this also means a return to in-store shopping. 

The Company Store is not worried about consumers heading back to its brick-and-mortar competitors, though. Beyond the company’s site’s ease of use, it has also worked on critical differentiators, like its return policy. 

“We have our ‘Rest Easy Guarantee’ where you can test your product, use it, wash it and after 90 days, if you don’t like it, you can still return it and we will credit you back for that purchase,” said Bentzen. Since launching the policy, Bentzen noted that returns have decreased.

And The Company Store paid attention to the customer experience and tone of its messaging overall, especially in the challenging times of 2020.

“We have a lot of prints, we have a lot more color, and we know this was hugely relevant in a time that was a little grim,” says Bentzen. “We did beef up on a little bit of humor, a little bit of whimsy. We didn’t take ourselves too seriously in a world that was obviously very, very serious.”

Planning for 2021 and beyond

It is clear that even as more consumers head back into stores, e-commerce will remain a huge part of the buying experience and become increasingly competitive. 

To increase customer lifetime value and loyalty in a world where shoppers are online more than ever, retailers need to think beyond big discounts to keep consumers coming back. An easy-to-use website, an extensive return policy and superior customer service are just a few of The Company Store’s success stories. 

Another differentiator that keeps customers coming back? Focusing on the issues that are important to them, such as sustainability. 

“We are looking for solutions where we can communicate without creating waste,” said Bentzen. “One example is using the inside flaps of our shipping boxes for messages as opposed to adding insert cards. Also, I am allergic to a box in a box.”

Finally, it is all about making sure the home feels like a haven. 

“One of the big questions we have out there is if consumers are going to continue investing in the home,” said Bentzen. “While I think many of us are getting antsy and want to get out and about, I think our relationship with the home has changed. It has become our safe haven. Our goal at The Company Store is to continue to make it that safe haven.”

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