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Recently, Wholesale Furniture Brokers was mentioned in an article in "NoSpin Marketing", a monthly internet-based debunking newsletter. This article rates our marketing / business practices and behaviours, then offers insights and practical approaches to selling more products and services specifically to

"NoSpin Marketing" Debunker Newsletter - October 26, 2005

Next, and last, on the firing line is Wholesale Furniture Brokers which sells a wide range of furniture online and via warehouses located throughout the U.S.

This is the third in a 3-part series of NoSpin Marketing "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" web site analyses. See Part I that critiques NorthPoint and Part II that critiques Sales Executives. Again, I sincerely appreciate the companies that have volunteered to go under the NoSpin microscope and hope that the results are beneficial to both them and others. Please keep in mind that portions of NoSpin "The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly" critiques are a bit tongue-and-cheek. I'm a believer that all business does not have to be so dry and boring. Nor does my sidekick, Clint.

A couple caveats - I am not reading every word on every page, but I am attempting to view each page on the sites being analyzed and hit some highlights and lowlights. Also, though, some recommendations are implicit in the comments, this is not to be taken as a complete plan for a revamped or new site. And without knowing the company's overall marketing approach, some comments below may be out of context.

The Good

BRAVO!, says Clint,... "finally, a really fine web site. You folks should check this site out and listen up to this Debunker. There's a ton of good stuff on this site, but here are a few of the highlights:

It's very obvious what they do from the get-go: they: they sell wholesale furniture directly to consumers and also to retailers. And we like the tag line: "buy smart, buy wholesale."

Contact information (to get people to take action however they choose) is very clear and emphasized on the homepage and throughout the site. You can contact the main office by phone, email, online form, chat, or contact individual locations as well by phone. YOU CAN'T HAVE ENOUGH WAYS FOR FOLKS TO INTERACT WITH YOU ON YOUR SITE (and of course, then, you have to provide exceptional, timely, professional follow-up). There's also a newsletter to sign up for and a contest if you're a winner. You can even customize your user experience for subsequent visits; pretty advanced still even for good e-commerce sites. Note, that they really don't care how the sale is made; via their site directly, over the phone, or via one of their warehouse locations. That's the way that it should be.

There is a lot of content on the site (and a lot of pages which search engines love as well) but it is very well organized:

  • By furniture type
  • By location
  • By brand
  • With search and advanced search options

Photos are important on a site like this to show actual goods, and each can be seen in different 3 sizes - not just the puny one size so often seen on other e-commerce sites. It is highly recommended that your web site merchandise photos are large--but still highly unusual for businesses selling actually stuff from their site.

The site currently gets 4000 visitors per DAY. Three years ago they started at zero traffic and traffic has doubled almost every 9 months. A lot of sites would like to get that kind of traffic in a week or a month. How does that happen? WFB does a ton of ongoing search engine marketing work (and this was verified with the company through a follow-up interview):

  • Excellent title and meta tags
  • Excellent html content on the site (and as mentioned they have a lot of pages of content that expands the chances they will be found by searches on many engines)
  • Links on other sites
  • Paidy links on other sites (I got a good tip from WFB to try out
  • Good url names (that incorporate key words)
  • Selective pay-per-click on Google Adwords, etc (this is optional for their warehouses by location).

As a result of WFB's continuing search engine marketing work, they have a Google first position ranking for "wholesale furniture" and good rankings for a huge number of niche key words related to furniture products, furniture locations, etc.

The site generates a significant number of contacts and sales, with an estimated 10 to 1 of local sales coming initially from the site.

The Bad

Clint and I hate to be nit-picky, but here are a few observations: is owned by the company and re-directs to (which is good), but Clint and I are old fashioned: yes, the company's main url is shorter but we don't think memorable and certainly doesn't help brand the company like a good lead url should (yes, the long version is a mouthful, but we still prefer it).

We also find the contact (and other company) email addresses a bit confusing for most. Most folks are only used to .com or .org at the end of an email address.

We may be wrong, but one of THE first questions that would pop into our heads would be about shipping and delivery costs. Yes we eventually found that information on the site but not in the FAQ section (it at least needs to be there as well).

We like the fact that the site is organized by furniture and stores... we were a bit confused, though, in looking at some items that have a store location on them (is that the only location?), and the ones without a location (are coming from where?)

Testimonials are good but I'd have a bunch more that illustrate even more the range of positive acceptance for multiple products in multiple geographies. There are no magic numbers, but for a substantial e-merchant, I'd include at least 15-25 testimonials and keep changing them.

The newsletter is also good but we would put the information re: what is in it (and the contest offer) above the actual contact form.

None of the above are huge deals at all in the grand scheme.

The Ugly

No Ugly here that either Clint or I can see. As mentioned, in spite of having a ton of content, it's easy to get around and find what you need; and the search function works great.

Overall, Clint thinks this is one of the easiest sites he's seen in quite some time to find what the heck he's looking for and it's "purdy" as well.

That being said, the primary "North Carolina" blue around the WFB logo is a bit nauseous for a Duke basketball fan like myself and I've turned Clint into one as well; he sometimes just shuts down when he sees that putrid "sky blue" versus royal blue color.

Overall Grade: A is definitely in the top 1%-tile of sites that you'll find on the Web. Yes, they are a bricks and clicks business that depends hugely on e-commerce to market and sell products. So they had better have a good site, right? Yes, but that's no excuse for the huge percentage of businesses (with or without things or services to sell online) to operate such pathetic web sites.

My sidekick Clint says, "It's obvious that you've put a huge amount of work into your site. Keep on doing what you're doing: updating your site regularly, enhancing it, and trying new search techniques to increase traffic and conversions. More sales will come."

Thanks again to Wholesale Furniture Brokers for being part of this Debunker.

Tom Ranseen, Principal
NoSpin Marketing