​Sur La Table’s 5 website tips to boost customer engagement

The US cookware retailer’s SVP of digital reveals what it took to turn the company’s website around to strengthen its customer community

Sur La Table’s senior vice president of digital, Kevin Ertell, speaking at the Online Retailers Conference 2016 in Sydney
Sur La Table’s senior vice president of digital, Kevin Ertell, speaking at the Online Retailers Conference 2016 in Sydney

“When I say the website should be the hub of the brand, I get some funny looks from people, but even if you have a bricks-and-mortar store, visuals online can still affect sales,” Sur La Table’s senior vice-president of digital, Kevin Ertell, said.

Speaking at the Online Retailers Conference 2016 in Sydney, Ertell argued retailers need to build an engaging, visually-driven website to help influence customers and strengthen a community around your brand.

“We need to recognise our website is our only true vehicle for bringing in global brand members,” he said. “If you look at Sur La Table, we had visitors from over 230 different countries come to our site in the past year. So we really need to think about the impact of our site and web presence on the brand."

1. Don’t just look at your site as a sales vehicle

At Sur La Table, Ertell said customer studies found people were visiting the site to do research on a product prior to making a purchase, which showed the site was not actually primarily a cash register.

“This means we shouldn’t just think about our site as a sales vehicle,” he explained. “That old way of thinking can narrow our potential and all we can do with the site. So that’s why you need to see your site as a hub for your brand.”

In fact, your site is wider a hub consisting of a marketing platform, a merchandising vehicle and customer research tool, Ertell said.

2. A key marketing platform

Retailers also need to think about the traffic coming to the site and how to maximise, target and optimise that, while conveying the brand message in the most effective and powerful way.

“We have a lot of new visitors, and the first place they come to check the brand is the site,” Ertell said. “So we need to ensure that is a premium experience for those people. First impressions are everything, and people make immediate decisions when they land on your site.”

3. Make your site visually exciting

When Ertell first came to Sur La table, the website featured a lot of written content and data. So he and his team spent a lot of time and effort rebuilding a new, more modern version that emphasised imagery and visual over words.

“It was just a hotchpotch of text and imagery,” he said. “It looked old, it didn’t look professional or very solid.

“Now we have a much better impact for our brand, and how we want our brand to be interpreted by people."

4. Improve user experience

One of the key improvements Ertell was involved with in the Sur La Table’s site improvement was its navigation capacity and user experience.

“We even used old jargon like ‘electrics’, that no real customer calls appliances,” he added. “That’s an industry term.”

To remedy the issue, Ertelle’s team asked a select customer base how they would categorise particular products.

“We really wanted to know how they were experiencing our brand and our site,” he said. “And as a result, we came out with a much cleaner navigation – and we now focus on what people do, like cooking, cleaning and dining, as opposed to the actual product types. So by using the same terms customers use, it helps represent our brand better.”

5. Test and learn

Ertell said it’s critical to ensure you don’t become complacent with your site, but continue to test, learn and evolve.

“We have 220 tests currently running at one time,” he said. “And we’re always trying different things to see what we can learn.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

3 marketing mistakes to overcome when courting prospective customers

Marketing that urges respondents to ‘buy now’ is a little like asking someone to marry you on your first date. At any time, only 3 per cent of the market is looking for what you’re selling, so the chances of your date randomly being ‘The One’ is pretty slim.

Sabri Suby

Founder, King Kong

Why are we dubious about deep learning?

The prospect of deep learning gives those of us in the industry something to get really excited about, and something to be nervous about, at the same time.

Katja Forbes

Founder and chief, sfyte

Why you can’t afford to fail at CX in 2019

In 1976 Apple launched. The business would go on to change the game, setting the bar for customer experience (CX). Seamless customer experience and intuitive designs gave customers exactly what they wanted, making other service experiences pale in comparison.

Damian Kernahan

Founder and CEO, Proto Partners

Red Agency YouGov Galaxy Report, February 2019 Predictors Study. https://redagency.com.au/re...

Vanessa Skye Mitchell

DNA-based marketing: The next big thing?

Read more

RIP holden

Max Polding

Marketing professor: For Holden, brand nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

Read more

Where does the claim that 2 million Australians have tested come from ? Anecdotal information suggests that this is way off the mark.

David Andersen

DNA-based marketing: The next big thing?

Read more

Thank you for the info , being part of a digital marketing agency in kerala , this proved handy and get to know with upcoming trends. htt...

Dotz Web Technologies

Predictions: 9 digital marketing trends for 2019

Read more

So who then is correct? The Research or The skilled Digital people.

Anene

Report reveals Australia faces digital skills shortage

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in