Back in March, Williams-Sonoma made a pretty startling declaration about its new brand strategy: With earnings at their peak, the company planned to increase online sales by lowering prices and revamping its Web sites, as opposed to the traditional move of opening more stores.
The Internet has been remarkably good to the kitchen supplies retailer: According to BNET, “in the fourth-quarter, the company saw such revenues rise more than eight percent, to $398 million. Internet sales rose 15 percent, to $309 million, or 78% of the total for direct sales.” These numbers indicate that the Web has not only been good for sales, but in fact may take them over entirely.
Granted, consumers may not be ready to say goodbye forever to their favorite Williams-Sonoma-branded store. But buyers have shown themselves to be just as inclined, if not even more inclined, to stay at home and make their purchases online rather than head to the nearest WS location.
The company is also jumping on the mobile commerce bandwagon: After the introduction of the iPad, businesses have been scrambling to design apps that would increase their customer base online. In August, WS made a somewhat surprising move by launching its own offering: a Pottery Barn Kids Costume Finder for the iPhone. While it’s too early to tell how successful the app will be in driving sales (we’ll have to check back in after Halloween) the launch was a clear effort by the company to cement the brand’s Web status, and shift sales even further online.
But consumers are still left waiting for Williams-Sonoma itself to join the iPad craze — aside from a website makeover and single app creation, the brand has done little to support its goal of reaching a $3.37 billion in 2010 sales. Such a lofty claim deserves an equally confident follow-through, which consumers have yet to see.