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Dan Minor

The Internet Report Card

February 25, 2013

The long-term success of every business, regardless if it is furniture or toothpaste, depends on the business being a force online!

I've put together a helpful grading tool to measure where you are with your Internet presence. Figure out your ‘grade' and make changes as necessary ...

F (Failing) - We have a company website that has our location, names of our brands, store hours, and maybe a promotion that we are running this month.

D (Below Average) - Our website has (in addition to the basics) a store locator to send local consumers to the closest retailer, and the retailer has links back to our webpage where customers can see all photos from each collection.

C (Average) - We've got a website that clearly presents basic information on our company, products, and retailers where customers can buy the items. In addition, we have a social media site like Facebook, where consumers can see and interact with our posts and be a fan or friend of our business.

B (Above Average) - Beyond our great website (it tells customers, reps, and retailers all about us and our products, including their images and where to find them) and an active Facebook page, we have developed a solid IMAP (Internet Minimally Advertised Price) for the online sales of our products. Our IMAP policy balances the pricing of our product online, so that our brick-and-mortar retail partners have protection from showrooming, while providing our consumers with a consistent pricing model nationwide.

A (Exceptional) - With an interactive site that not only shows product, but actually recommends items to the end consumer based upon specific needs, our website is more than just informational; it's e-commerce as well. We use third party sites to enhance our brand and to create added exposure for us, in order to tell our story to a much broader audience. Real time data is sent over regularly from a daily focus group to help determine our growth strategies. More than just having an IMAP policy, we are actually policing it, keeping rogue retailers from abusing it by spreading our assets to unauthorized sites that poison the entire system. We keep our website current by actively blogging to expand our message.

What is your grade? I would argue that a good grade should be a top priority, since over 85% of all Home Décor purchases begin online. Retailers, manufacturers and customers all interacting together will lead to a better shopping experience, as well as effective top-line and margin growth for every business. If this is not already a priority, my suggestion would be to move it to the top of the list. No one wants to fail, and believe it or not, each time a retailer ceases to do business or a manufacturer shuts its doors, it hurts us all!