I’m excited to welcome you to the first installment of the Shop.org member spotlight series. The series will feature some of our longest-standing Associate and Retail members in the coming months. Our goal is to highlight these companies’ digital strategies along with the reasons they have been members over the years.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Nancy Miller, vice president of Internet sales and development at Woodcraft Supply, who is an active member of the Shop.org Content and Member Services Committees. Woodcraft is one of the nation’s oldest and largest suppliers of quality woodworking tools and supplies. Read on as Miller shares Woodcraft Supply’s story and why they have some great ways to make their customers fall in love with them every day.
Woodcraft has been a member of Shop.org for more than a decade. What are the top three reasons you’ve found membership to be valuable?
Shop.org member Nancy Miller, vice president of Internet sales and development at Woodcraft Supply
Networking on steroids! Not only have I met fellow retailers who are happy to share their experiences and advice, I have developed a strong group of friends. Also, unbiased content. From day one, I was pleasantly surprised to find the content delivered in event sessions and webinars to be unbiased by vendors. Shop.org takes content seriously and works hard to get retail leaders in the industry to speak about their experiences. And it’s the best way to keep up with industry trends. Through Shop.org email updates and leading vendors who exhibit at the Summit and other shows, I am confident that I am learning about the latest developments in the industry.
Woodcraft first offered its catalog online in 1995, and retail has changed dramatically since then. What are some of the most noticeable developments, both online and in store?
The most notable shift has been in the percent of sales that are placed online as opposed to over the phone through our catalog. Another change would be that our competitors were once easy to define. With the amount of new online companies, marketplaces, affiliates and drop-ship vendors, the amount of competition has greatly increased. It’s more important now than ever to be able to provide our customers with all of the resources they need for their woodworking passion.
You have more than 70 franchised locations throughout the UnitedStates and have worked hard to carve out an omnichannel component to your business. Explain what this means to Woodcraft and the relationships you’ve built to help manage the complexity of omnichannel retailing.
The best way to manage the complexity of omnichannel retailing is to focus on the customer and use values such as integrity and respect to make decisions. The single largest thing we have done is to gain the trust and confidence of our franchisees and customers. We have done this by listening, saying what we are going to do and doing what we say, and being clean and accurate in our communications. We have also worked hard with our franchise store owners to give them the tools to help drive customers into their stores, while focusing on giving the customer the best overall Woodcraft experience.
Woodcraft has been working to enhance local shopping on your website. What are some lessons you’ve learned and successes you’ve seen?
We learned several lessons from our last project on localizing Woodcraft’s homepage with a store image. We found that when the customer is accurately located in the right city, and we are able to show their store on the homepage, the experience is ideal.
We were able to blend the technology and data currently available with better design and customer choice to make a localized home page work. The lesson learned is that digging into the details and outliers is extremely important. We changed the design with a simplified call to action – “We HAVE a Store Near You” – which takes them to a map, shows them where we think they live, the mileage to the three closest stores, and gives them the ability to select the store of their choice.
We have provided our stores the ability to add local store specials that can only be seen by customers who live near their store. In addition, we adapt our weekly email newsletter for each store area, and give the store the ability to add in a manager’s message for their customers. Stores are also able to send “stand-alone emails” to their customers through our in-house application. We also offer local Classes and demos. Woodcraft stores will teach customers how to become a woodworker, from classes on fundamental woodworking techniques to woodworking projects such as making your own guitar. Stores can log in to our internal “Classbuilder” application to schedule their classes online. Customers then have the ability to search for a class either through the local store page or by first finding the class, and then finding locations that it’s offered.
Finding local classes at Woodcraft.com
Woodcraft.com is also mobile optimized. How did this become a reality? Are there plans for a mobile app in the future?
We chose to optimize the site rather than to create an app, and we have been very pleased with that decision. We contracted with a third party to pick up the dynamic content from Woodcraft.com and serve it back on the m.woodcraft.com site. Store locations are also optimized for mobile – the three closest stores with a map and directions are provided from the mobile store link.
We continue to tweak the mobile site with checkout optimization and recently added a buy-it-now with a PayPal button to each product page. We do plan to experiment with responsive design on a smaller site that we own, JapanWoodworker.com, which is built on the same in-house framework. Each move continues to improve our mobile performance.
Shop.org’s Organizational Structure Study examines how some retailers are integrating aspects of digital retail into their company structure. What has the study taught you about a vision and strategy for digital integration?
As the study describes, we have become the digital department for many areas of the company, due to the skill set of the team. What initially started as an e-commerce team to sell tools online has grown into a digital retailing team to serve all areas of Woodcraft.
What originally made us unique, and now seems to be a best practice, is the way we combine developers, designers, merchandising, and marketing within the same group. The conflict that many retailers describe between IT and marketing simply does not exist. The Internet development team is able to have control over code changes. We work closely with the IT department on networking and hardware needs, as they also serve the hardware/software needs of employees and stores. We also have a business intelligence group that maintains data and reporting company-wide. We work closely with that group for data feeds and reporting. We rely on functional teams to develop and execute strategies.
As the study points out, there is no “right” answer on organizational structure. It is important that the corporate vision be communicated frequently and that decisions are made to fulfill that vision using strong corporate values.