Q&A: Jeff Douglas, director of ecommerce at Nebraska Furniture Mart, will join a panel of retailers and experts discussing customer experience during the session, “It's All About the (Shopping) Journey,” at the July 29 event, Materializing Your Ecommerce Vision, hosted by Digital Commerce 360. We caught up with him to get a sneak peek of the insights he plans to bring to the panel session.

In this Q&A article, Jeff Douglas, director of ecommerce at Nebraska Furniture Mart, discusses what he’s learned over the years about honing the consumers’ shopping journey to create a great customer experience. Douglas will share his expertise with attendees during the panel session, “It’s All About the (Shopping) Journey,” at the July 29 event, Materializing Your Ecommerce Vision, hosted by Digital Commerce 360.

Douglas has worked at Nebraska Furniture Mart for more than 18 years. Today, he manages commerce operations for the retailer’s website at NFM.com, including implementing Salesforce Commerce Cloud and digital marketing. Nebraska Furniture Mart is No. 285 in the Digital Commerce 360 2021 Top 1000.

Digital Commerce 360: What are the main things you think retailers need to focus on when it comes to the customer experience?

Douglas: The top three things retailers need to focus on right now are order status transparency, being easy to do business with and personalization. While much of the country is closer to being back to normal from COVID-19, the supply chain has a ways to go. Providing customers with accurate, easy-to-access information regarding their orders is key to the relationship.

Second is making it easy for the customer to do business with you. At NFM, customers can shop online, by phone or inside one of our huge 450,000-square-foot stores. Once you purchase, you can set your order up for delivery and install to [drop off at] your driveway or you can pick it up. On some items, we offer two-hour and same-day delivery. If you choose pickup, you drive through and we safely tie the product down in your vehicle in 15 minutes or less. Our Dallas location can load 120 vehicles at the same time. We’ve been doing this for over 25 years, way before it was trendy.

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Last, personalization. We do this online and in store. Online, we personalize the experience so that it’s optimized for each user.  We recently launched a new website utilizing Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Out of the box, it comes with Einstein. Einstein uses artificial intelligence to personalize search results and sort product recommendations based on how each user uses the website. This is important because you have a limited amount of time with each visitor so you must show them relevant items as quickly as possible.

Digital Commerce 360: What is one step you took to improve the customer experience and how did it pay off for your company?

Jeff Douglas, director of ecommerce at Nebraska Furniture Mart

Douglas: During the COVID-19 shutdown, we noticed that some national retailers were struggling with shipping products. Especially ones that were known for doing it timely. We approached this opportunity in two ways. One, we offered free shipping while our stores were closed—no membership fee required. People were struggling to get by so the last thing they wanted to do was pay for shipping. Second, we added same-day and two-hour delivery on many items. The coronavirus transformed people’s homes into their workplace, school and gym. We wanted to be able to service them at the highest level possible. We heard from many customers about how thankful they were for us helping them improve their lifestyle.

Digital Commerce 360: What is a lesson learned or challenge you had to endure related to the customer experience and how did you ultimately solve it?

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Douglas: NFM closed its stores for about two months during COVID-19 last year. NFM was committed to maintaining everyone’s benefits and pay during this time. It was important that we still had revenue flowing in. Most of our business shifted to online. We knew we needed to innovate quickly to stay ahead. One of the innovations that came out of this closure was virtual shopping. While online provides great content for the customer to make a purchasing decision, we knew people would still like to see products and talk to a person. We quickly set up a scheduling process where customers could book a time online with one of our managers still onsite. They would walk the customer around the store and help them look at items through video conference. It was a success and something that continues to this day.

Materializing Your Ecommerce Vision is the third livestreamed, half-day event from Digital Commerce 360 this year. Jam-packed with tactics from some of Digital Commerce 360’s most sought-after and robust research reports, you’ll hear directly from the authors of the not-yet-released 2021 Next 1000 and Online Marketplaces Reports. Additionally, retailers will share how they are pivoting to maintain momentum amid all of the recent changes in online retail and give attendees a better understanding of the current ecommerce landscape and how to compete—and succeed—within it. Secure your spot today!

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