Website refresh aims to boost business

Andy Walker, owner of Style Furniture and Relax Sofas and Beds, talks about the year so far as well as recent investments including the launch of their new websites.

Louth-based independent furniture retailer Style Furniture has continued to evolve over the last 50 years, which has now seen the business complete another milestone, an overhaul of their online presence. Understood to be one of the first furnishing companies to retail furniture online some 15 years ago, the business has now revamped both its Style Furniture and Relax Sofas and Beds websites.

In fact, ever since their first website was launched, the company has continued to invest and improve their online operations, alongside other projects. Owner, Andy Walker, explained: “We are always investing and improving the quality of the business. Over the last few years, we have again upgraded our online presence and also streamlined our internal systems, both at the ‘front’ end of the business and at the ‘back’.

“We began this investment journey back in 2017, when we partnered with RetailSystem. Since then, we have been able, with their help, to establish an effective, simple and tailormade ERP & EPOS system, which has consequently helped to make the business more effective and more profitable.

“More recently, I needed a more exciting fresh look to both our websites, but even more importantly, it needed to work more efficiently and it needed to consistently find searches by my potential customers. This conundrum is not easy to solve, but WebSystem, a division by RetailSystem, with their expertise, made the new sites not only look better, but they designed them in a way to capture more potential customer searches, geared at boosting traffic to our websites.

“It doesn’t finish there. A search by a customer needs to be converted into a sale within a few minutes at the most, or potentially you have lost that sale forever. WebSystem designed the site to give that potential order, by that potential customer, the best chance of finding its way into the sold basket within 3-4 clicks and then it’s up you, the retailer, to do the rest. The launch has been a big success for us.”

And on success, so far this calendar year, the company has, as a group, seen sales grow 4% up on the comparative period, with sales margin increasing by 3%. In challenging times, Andy said that performance this year has been very positive, despite “erratic” footfall. “The average unit price achieved per sale is up, accompanied with a higher sales margin, and a part stabilisation of overhead costs,” he said.

“There seems to be less footfall, but we are also now selling more quality and more expensive products at a higher margin. We always ‘protect’ our sales margin. There are aways challenges to the business, but specifically at this point in time, it would be the general economic and political environment we all have to work in and around.

“Confidence with the general public is at a particularly low point and this translates itself to a less vibrant market place. We counter this, as we have always done, by building a business that is completely customer focused, has quality products, a strong sales margin, the best service we can provide, employees who are looked after by their employer and who look after their customers. It may sound easy, but in practice it’s exceptionally difficult to achieve consistently. We’re very proud of what we have achieved.”

Andy added that they are seeing a customer shift from cabinet furniture sales, while their core categories are all performing well, including their disposal service, which helps customers too. “Our sales of cabinet furniture are down, but dining sets, beds and sofas are still our mainstay. We give our customers the option to let us dispose of their old furniture when we deliver their new products. Any items we collect are uplifted by a waste disposal company who we pay to separate fully recyclable items. All our cardboard waste is collected and recycled too.”

Looking ahead, Andy revealed that the business plans to expand further. “We are planning to increase the size of our sales floor, by building onto to land we acquired some years ago. We also plan to incorporate a café within this new extension, so watch this space!”

Save this article for later

You can revisit this article if you save it as favourite news!

Leave a Comment