#OpenUpOrNot: How Search Offsets In Store Declines

Companies like Overstock and Floor & Decor are leaning how to offset brick-and-mortar declines, as they turn to search and ecommerce on desktop and mobile. 

Overstock is experiencing growth online heading into the second quarter of 2020. Year-long efforts to improve its website helped boost by 120% in April compared to a year ago, according to the company’s earnings call.

“It’s important to reiterate that we were already demonstrating strong performance before the stay at home mandates hit,” Jonathan Johnson, Overstock CEO and President of Medici Ventures, said during the company’s Q1 2020 earnings call.

From March 13-March 31, Overstock’s sales grew in its Signature categories as people began to focus on their homes. Rugs grew 20%, office furniture grew 100%. The company also growth in outdoor play equipment like swing sets and exercise equipment.



 Overstock has begun to measure performance through website speed and relevance. While relevance makes it easy for customers to find the products they want, site search improvements during the past year have helped the company to achieve higher conversions, about 8% increase in searches year-over-year.

Traffic continues to shift toward mobile, as more consumers make purchases from their phones.

At Overstock, mobile traffic rose 13.5% year-over-year and represented 68% of unique visits at the end of the first quarter. The increase in traffic impacts top-line revenue, a 7.8% increase YoY and mobile sales in the first quarter.

Mobile sales relative to desktop continue to climb a steadily and now represent nearly one half of total sales.

Analytics is being used to refine Overstock’s machine-learning models to improve site search, and put engineers on organic search to optimize listings in search engine traffic.  

Overstock took advantage of traditional brick-and-mortar store closures by increasing some of its advertising and marketing spend to acquire more customers at lower costs, with “nearly 250-ish, 249% growth in customers,” Nielsen said. “We’ve been softly aggressive, but continue to monitor everyday as the situation goes forward.”

Floor & Décor Holdings, a retail home improvement store, turned to search, YouTube, and Pinterest as consumers looked for ideas to redecorate their homes, the company said Thursday during its earnings call.

“The investments we've made in ecommerce and changes in store operations have enabled us to retain a significant amount of sales while our stores are closed to the public,” Trevor Lang, Floor & Decor EVP and CFO, said during the company’s earnings call.

Despite limiting store operations to curbside pickup on March 21 and in some cases completely closing stores, the company said Thursday that net sales rose 16.3% to $554.9 million in first-quarter 2020 -- up from $477.1 million in the year-ago quarter. Comparable-store sales rose 2.4%. At the end of the quarter, best-selling items were moved outside, so consumers could see them in person after viewing the products online.

As the company moved to curbside pick-up, Floor & Décor’s website made it easy for customer to place an order online and then just pick it up at the store. The change in the model pushed sales up 270%, compared with the previous month, and now represents approximately 60% of company sales.

The company also invested in a call center team. When combined with advanced technology it allowed Floor & Décor to handle the significant increase in call volume they’re experiencing.

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