Room & Board


"We’re seeing amazing return on investment with Salesforce."

John Schroeder
Retail Business Intelligence Manager

Room & Board makes recommendations intelligent with Marketing Cloud.

When the team at Room & Board built their first website back in 1999, they thought carefully about how to mirror a customer’s very personal in-store experience online. Any move to the digital would need to convey the same importance the company placed in every product detail and in every customer relationship.

Originally spun off from a family-owned furniture business in Minneapolis, Room & Board focused from day one on modern furniture, with an emphasis on American craftsmanship and the use of sustainable materials. The company quickly earned a following on the virtues of both its heirloom-quality furniture and its dedication to personalized, high-quality customer service.

For years, the Room & Board website essentially functioned as a photo catalog of the company’s products: There was no way to buy anything online, only in the company’s stores. Then, in 2006, Room & Board added a wish list feature to the site. Customers could create a list of items from the site they wanted to buy, and email it to company headquarters, which processed the emails as orders.

“That first month we did it, we broke just shy of $700,000 in sales, and we [thought], wait a minute, there’s something here we’ve got to figure out,” recalled John Schroeder, retail business intelligence manager. So a year later, the company featured the email ordering option on the website; it hadn’t mentioned wish lists much to that point. Sales jumped another 50%.

Schroeder and his team wanted to serve and learn from their customers as much as they wanted to grow an online presence. “We were understanding how customers were utilizing the website, our stores, or our call center, and taking that information and [asking] ‘How do we create the best possible experience for our customer?’” Schroeder said.

Powering recommendations with Predictive Intelligence

Room & Board leadership turned to Marketing Cloud to help create a digital experience reflective of the ways their customers use the Web alongside retail stores and call centers. The company started uploading all of its customer sales history and data to the cloud in 2009 without knowing exactly how the data would be leveraged.

“Now we look back and [realize] that was such a smart decision we made,” Schroeder said. “Every day, machine learning is getting smarter.” All that information now powers product recommendations Room & Board makes to customers using Marketing Cloud’s Predictive Intelligence.

Company leadership considers their design associates one of Room & Board’s greatest assets. In stores, design associates work with customers to help them understand how a look comes together in a room, and what missing piece might help to complete a showroom-perfect room in their own homes. Marketing Cloud helps Room & Board re-create that personal in-store experience for online customers.

Schroeder called Marketing Cloud his “silent partner” that’s making product recommendations to customers while he sleeps. Years of data about what pieces of furniture go together, what styles complement one another, and what products customers tend to view and purchase in groups informs recommendations made on the website and in personalized email campaigns.

Marketing Cloud’s Predictive Intelligence powers these recommendations — and they’re working. Customers who engage with Room & Board’s recommendations place Web orders with 40% higher average values than those who don’t. When customers view those recommendations before coming into the store, the average order value shoots up 60%.

“We are educating the customer. They’re walking in the store, already anticipating they’re going to buy that sofa and that lamp,” said Schroeder. “Then, as they’re working with our design associate, they think, I’ll get the rug too. So, they’re really completing their space.”

Realizing an amazing return on investment

Room & Board realized a 2,900% return on investment in its first year using Predictive Intelligence. “That’s phenomenal. That’s just an amazing return on investment,” Schroeder said. The company is continually refining its use of the technology, using data about how its customers interact with email and the Web to optimize campaigns even further. In one example, a weekly email campaign was moved from a weekday to Saturday to target customers who read mail on their phones. “It’s a nice little reminder for the consumer who’s out and about to actually go visit a store and sit on that sofa, [and] check out those drawer glides,” Schroeder said.

Room & Board’s digital marketing team’s goal is to know each customer well enough to recommend the next piece of furniture or room accent to tie a home together. But today’s customers are shifting more and more toward online browsing in lieu of in-store visits. So Salesforce helps Room & Board extend that in-store feeling to the digital realm, nurturing scores of new customer relationships in the process.

“Marketing Cloud has allowed us to talk to customers individually and create more of that one-to-one relationship like we have had in the stores for so many years,” Kimberly Haase Ruthenbeck, director of Web experience, said. “It’s not replacing the in-store experience, it’s just complementing the idea that the customer wants to feel like we know them all the way through the process.” With Marketing Cloud, Room & Board helps more customers than ever before create their own ideal homes.

Room & Board
Room & Board
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