Today’s interview is with Anthony Soohoo, Co-Founder & CEO of Dot & Bo, a curated and thematic home design and furniture shopping experience that is particularly targeted at millennials. Anthony joins me today to talk about what customer service means to Dot & Bo, why millennials, what they have learned from their experience and what the future holds.
This interview follows on from my recent interview – Proactive customer service drives retention, advocacy and growth – Interview with Monica Higgins of eSalon – and is number 178 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.
Here’s the highlights of my interview with Anthony:
- Dot & Bo is the first home brand in the US that is targeted at the millennial generation.
- They aim to make their experience entertaining, approachable and shopable.
- Anthony launched Dot & Bo in 2013, following his own experience of going shopping for furniture and being frustrated by not knowing how a piece would look in a certain style of room and his experience working for CBS Interactive where he noticed that many people buy as a result of watching TV shows.
- Whilst they are almost exclusively online they do have a large showroom area in their office in San Francisco and are looking to open up more show offices/spaces in the future.
- From Dot & Bo’s perspective, customer service is not reactive and is intertwined with how they mange and nurture their customer relationships across the lifecycle. That means that design their experience such that they predict and solve problems throughout their customer’s journey.
- The way that Dot & Bo view themselves is that they see themselves as a media company that monitises through commerce.
- That means that they can take an approach that allows them to sell without selling.
- The millennial demographic will become the largest consumer group in the US in terms of shopping in the next five years. So, if you don’t get ahead of it you will be left behind.
- 60% of their audience are 45 years and younger.
- In their experience, millennials want:
- A digital native brand that they can connect with.
- They are looking for customer service/customer relationship.
- They want to communicate on their terms, in their language and that can tend to mean less voice and more text based communication.
- They want a personalised experience and one that is specific to the style that they choose/prefer.
- They don’t want to be sold. They want to fall in love with and/or connect with a product before they buy.
- They prioritise a relationship over a transaction.
- As a result Dot & Bo take all of their customers depending on their style preferences through a thorough onboarding/acclimation process so that they don’t feel overwhelmed by the number of products that they have on their site.
- They have also learned a number of things about millennials and their shopping habits:
- Impulse items tend to be bought on their phones in the morning whereas larger, more considered purchases tend to happen after 5/6pm.
- However, many prefer to buy using their phones as it is seemingly easier to buy – millennials find it easier to type on a phone as they are more used to it than it is using a tablet (hardest) or a desktop.
- There is an assumption that the larger the screen size the more transactions….that is not necessarily the case in Dot & Bo’s experience.
- They launched on January 28th 2013 and have since grown 14x from the end of Year 1 to Year 3, have at least 25% of their original customers still shopping with them today,they have done no marketing in a traditional sense and are now ranked as the No. 5 online furniture store in the US.
- In terms of the future, Dot & Bo are looking at three different areas:
- 1. Experimenting with Augmented Reality to help solve the perennial question ‘How would this look in my home?’.
- 2. How they communicate with their customers and how they utilise platforms like Snapchat and also Pinterest, where many of their customers create ‘mood boards’ and
- 3. Really understanding what their customers want and what they don’t want and then focus on eliminating as much of the ‘noise’ as possible. Remove the friction.
- Go and check out Dot & Bo, even if you don’t want to buy anything, as you’ll get a better idea of how their experience works and how they do ‘thematic’ entertainment on a daily basis. And, by all means send them an email at email@example.com as Anthony would love to hear your thoughts positive or otherwise. He also reads about 90% of all customer feedback so email away.
About Anthony (taken from his bio on Crunchbase)
Anthony Soohoo is Co-Founder & CEO of Dot & Bo, a uniquely curated shopping experience that makes modern design accessible and inspires people to create their dream homes. Drawing upon his background in media and technology, he launched Dot & Bo in 2013 to solve for the often-frustrating experience of shopping for furniture, in which design advice is traditionally expensive and customer service is extremely limited.
Prior to starting Dot & Bo, Anthony was the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Entertainment Division at CBS Interactive which included CBS.com, CBS Audience Network, TV.com, The Insider.com, Chow, Chowhound, UrbanBaby, and CBS Interactive Web Original Studio. During his tenure, Soohoo helped grow the CBS Interactive Entertainment Division to become one of the leading entertainment networks on the web. He joined CBS in 2007 with its acquisition of Dotspotter, one of the fastest growing community-powered entertainment properties on the Internet where he served as Co-Founder and CEO. Prior to Dotspotter, Soohoo held product and leadership roles at Yahoo!, Inktomi and Apple.
Soohoo earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He was selected in TechCrunch’s “40 Over 40” list and The Hollywood Reporter’s Digital Power List as one of the top 50 executives leading the charge in new media. He is an advisor/investor to a number of consumer startups.
Check out Dot & Bo’s website, say Hi to them and Anthony on Twitter @DotandBo and @anthonysoohoo and connect with Anthony on LinkedIn here.
Photo Credit: Meoded_Paint_Plaster via Compfight cc
I went and had a look Adrian, but I couldn’t browse around the website without setting up an account. I can understand why they would want me to, but I didn’t fancy it.
Interesting dichotomy between what Anthony says and how the web site works.
Thank you, James, for that feedback. You are not alone in saying so and I will ask Anthony to respond directly.
Thanks for taking the time to read the interview with Anthony and check out Dot & Bo. Our content-based shopping experience is centered on providing design inspiration and creative decorating ideas that are delivered via email each day.
Instead of simply encouraging transactions, we’re focused on building a relationship with our community. Our membership model is similar to that of a cable network, such as HGTV, a magazine subscription or even a retailer that requires membership, such as Costco.
Visitors who are on the fence about joining our service are encouraged to check out our blog, Design District, which does not require a membership: http://www.dotandbo.com/designdistrict/