ATGStores, an online-only home furnishings retailer that Lowe’s Cos. Inc. acquired in 2011, has a new name: The Mine.
Along with the name change and new URL, the retailer has decided to put a greater focus on high-income, luxury shoppers.
The retailer pared down its 4 million SKUS from ATGStore.com, and launched The Mine in April with 1 million SKUs, says Michelle Newbery, president of themine.com. Fewer products make the site less overwhelming, she says.
“We made the very deliberate decision not to be everything to everyone,” Newbery says. “We want it to be high quality and shoppable.”
The target customer has a household income of $150,000 or higher, and is college-educated, 34-54 years old, lives in or near a metropolitan area and is particular about her home furnishings, Newbery says.
The Mine takes a different approach than parent company Lowe’s, which aims to be the store that everyone goes to for home improvement projects. The Mine is meant to fill in Lowe’s gaps, says Molly Hartney, vice president of marketing and merchandising at themine.com. For example, a shopper likely wouldn’t go to a physical Lowe’s store for a dining room table, but she can find dining room tables on Lowes.com. The Mine is selecting those dining room pieces for Lowes.com, and choosing higher-end pieces for themine.com.
“We fill gaps on the Lowes.com website, that they can’t currently fill today,” Hartney says, citing furniture, outdoor furniture, bed frames and other large products as examples.
Web-only home furnishing giant Wayfair Inc., No. 16 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, also recently launched an e-commerce site aimed at high-income shoppers called Perigold.com. Newbery didn’t comment on Wayfair’s new venture, saying only that The Mine is focused on acquiring this niche audience.
To let the retailer’s existing ATGStores shoppers know about the upcoming rebrand, about 45 days before the launch, which occurred April 20, it emailed its shopper list to tell them about it and offer a sneak peak of the site. The campaign resonated well with shoppers, Hartney says, as many provided feedback via online surveys, emails, phone calls and chats, saying they felt valued and a part of the process.
The retailer also is making a marketing push via a content marketing initiative called “52 weeks of design” in which each week the retailer publishes a quick question-and-answer with a famous designer or influencer, such as Alexa Hampton and Bunny Williams. The Q&A piece features design tips and favorite home furnishing pieces.
In the first 21 weeks, The Mine has had 100,000 engagements on social media related to the designers, such as a link click or share. Including the designers’ social network, The Mine’s 52 weeks of design content has generated more than 2 million interactions, Newbery says. Plus, the initiative drove a 20%-30% increase in incremental revenue, Newbery says.
The Mine also is advertising via paid search ads and print media ads, Newbery says.
Since the relaunch, The Mine’s sales and traffic results have been in line or slightly favorable with expectations, Newbery says without revealing specifics. The Mine has aggressive sales growth goals for 2017, she says.
The retailer’s customer service team of 150 people is a key part of meeting those sales targets. The Mine started a “wow program” in late 2016 in which every customer service employee has the goal of “wowing” a customer each day. This doesn’t mean great customer service, because that’s expected, but exceptional service, Newbery says. The representatives are encouraged to learn shoppers’ birthdays and ask them questions to build a relationship with them.
For example, a customer provided feedback to the retailer that she had trouble checking out because she recently remarried and had changed her last name. The employee who saw the message sent the woman a decorative frame that read, “Live, Laugh, Love” with the customer’s new last name in it. The “wow program” is so far a success, and employees are exceeding the one-wow-a-day goal, Newbery says.
Being owned by Lowe’s, No. 25 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000, has it perks. The Mine benefits from the Lowe’s Innovation Labs, the retailer’s new technology and development incubator. For example, Lowe’s is making a push into augmented reality and creating 3-D images of its products, and The Mine has 150 of its products modeled in 3-D, Newbery says.