Driving growth through a new channel
Williams-Sonoma saw an opportunity to expand its customer base and the reach of its brand by extending into a new channel, the Internet. Critical to the success of this venture would be creating the high-quality experience that customers had come to expect from Williams-Sonoma, without cannibalizing its existing channels.
Prophet analyzed Williams-Sonoma's organizational strengths, brand equities, and competitive environment and recommended that Williams-Sonoma's initial online efforts focus on its bridal registry offering. Upon agreeing to this approach, Williams-Sonoma engaged Prophet's implementation team to ready its operations for launch. These efforts ranged from creating call center/store associate training programs to creating strategies for sourcing inventory and managing distribution. Furthermore, Prophet created a set of detailed guidelines for Williams-Sonoma to use in building the appropriate online experience, as well as an integrated communications plan that aimed to foster cross-channel loyalty.
Based on the success of the bridal site, Williams-Sonoma launched a site to support the entire concept, and has continued to introduce Web sites for its other retail concepts, such as Pottery Barn. Its total Internet sales grew over 500% in its first two years, and over one-third of online customers were new buyers. The Internet continues to be a powerful contributor to Williams-Sonoma's brand and business, and online sales now account for over $1 billion in revenue.