After 31 years of delivering superior natural fiber rugs to retailers and the trade, Merida has begun to focus on driving consumer demand as well. In December 2009, Merida launched www.MeridaHome.com, a consumer website aimed at generating interest in well-designed sustainable home furnishings.
The website capped a year’s worth or exploration into how to best build a brand with consumers and also drive interest in Merida to our partners. We are proud of this accomplishment not only because of the rapid pace it evolved but it also marks a major step towards building a brighter future for Merida and our partners.
Simply put, www.MeridaHome.com is part of our long-term strategy to develop consumer demand to support all partners who sell Merida products.
Nine Months of Testing the Waters
In February 2009 we began trying to deliver consumer demand to our partners. Our first attempt was launching blogs plus FaceBook and Twitter groups. We almost immediately saw a rise in consumer interest coming to the main www.MeridaMeridian.com website. We were pleasantly surprised and then dismayed.
We were thrilled and encouraged to see a dramatic rise in visits to our showroom locator as usage tripled over January 2009.
Our website was intended to educate and inform consumers let alone funnel their interest anywhere. In its current state it was going to need some work. We saw this as an opportunity for both Merida and our partners and set about fixing things.
Our first step in June 2009 was to perform a minor face lift to www.MeridaMeridian.com. We added a “Consumers” link from the homepage leading to information about how we work with consumers through retailers and where to find our products.
We were thrilled and encouraged to see a dramatic rise in visits to our showroom locator as usage tripled over January 2009 numbers. We still were not satisfied however. The problem with the showroom locator was that over time it had become filled with companies who were no longer actively carrying Merida products.
In August 2009 we set about revamping the showroom locator by removing hundreds of these companies. We instead included only partners enrolled in our sample subscription program. This ensured consumers would be well supported by retailers we sent them to and allowed increased focus on our partners.
In August 2009 we also revamped the online quote system to allow consumers to quote Merida Rugs using the same system our partners use. The only difference was that consumers were not given prices; instead they were given a quote summary and a list of retailers near them to which they could bring the quote summary.
While the evolution of www.MeridaMeridian.com and the showroom locator were benefit for our partners, and us – it had its limitations. We could only do so much for consumers on the site. The online quote system was confusing to them and gave too many options. Many consumers were frustrated to not get a price attached to the quote summary and then find there were no retailers in their area to buy from.
An unrelated issue we were also dealing with was excess inventory and no easy way to liquidate discontinued items. Because we were not letting consumers buy from our online quote system we could not use that system to liquidate inventory.
www.MeridaHome.com became the obvious solution to all of these problems and in September 2009 we moved into development of the site at breakneck speed with the goal to bring it online before year’s end.
Launch – but how will this help Partners?
In December 2009 we launched www.MeridaHome.com. In building the site we made a number of key decisions with our site to support our partners:
- A conscious decision to provide a deep, rich educational and branding experience rather than a pure shopping experience.
- Merida Home will not undercut partners on any active product line
- Merida Home will not offer the full Merida line (we carry less than 2%)
- Merida Home will not provide the customization available through partners
- Merida Home will work to develop products exclusively for Merida Home so as to further eliminate any competition with our partners
- The Merida Home showroom locator will be a more visible and useful tool adding zip code searches and Google Maps.
Our main goal is to drive high volumes of consumers to www.MeridaHome.com and teach them about sustainability and the Merida brand. While some of these consumers won’t live near a retailer or may want to purchase online, research indicates that consumers are more likely to make big ticket purchases offline whenever possible.
Where We Are & Where We Go From Here
In only its third month www.MeridaHome.com will surpass 10,000 visits for the month through word of mouth alone. 10% of the visitors take advantage of our free 6” samples and 5% of these visitors ultimately end up looking for retailers in our showroom locator. We expect all these numbers to grow significantly as we begin to invest in marketing and in promoting our partners to consumers via email and newsletters.
In the future we intend to expand upon the Merida Home rug lines to put more focus on the “sustainable and stylish home”. This means featuring more product categories for consumers and continuing to ensure that our partners are the best place to access the widest selection of customizable Merida area rugs.
We’re still learning of course but we are thrilled with the progress and investments we made in 2009 and look forward to an even more exciting 2010 with more involvement from our partners.
Note: For Merida resellers subscribed to our Partner Program, many marketing and advertising opportunities exist as part of their current subscriptions. They can contact marketing at Merida and discuss opportunities to partner with Merida Home.