March 14, 2011, 2:46 PM

A home decor retailer makes a home for its own community

Kirkland’s says the community draws new shoppers to the brand.

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A screenshot of

In 2009 multichannel home décor retailer Kirkland’s set two  goals: Attract new shoppers and bolster customer engagement.

While the retailer considered leveraging online communities that already existed, such as Facebook, it decided to launch its own community because it didn’t think its shoppers were congregating at any single social networking site, says Mark Krebs, Kirkland’s chief marketing officer.

“Everything is very fragmented,” he says. “Facebook makes up a big piece of it, but it’s still only fragment.”



The retailer worked with marketing agency RedPepper to build its community at, rather than on The retailer wanted to foster discussion around home décor and the brand, while making sales a secondary goal, he says.

“Home décor is a space where people love to share,” he says. “However, we had to be careful, because if you mix too much commerce into the site people don’t see the value of sharing; they see the community as place where they’re being sold to.”

The site features discussion boards where home design devotees can trade ideas, along with special promotions and product reviews. Professional designers on the site also share advice.

The retailer launched an in-store campaign last July to draw shoppers to the community. Consumers were handed a game piece offering an undisclosed discount. To find the value of the piece a consumer had to visit, enter her e-mail address and the code on the game piece. The consumer could then use the discount in Kirkland’s stores.

The retailer gathered 76,835 new e-mail addresses via the effort and more than 89,000 total, including consumers who opted out of further contact with Kirkland’s. Moreover, 17,058 of those consumers used the coupons. And the average order value of those transactions was double the site’s usual $30 to $35 range.

Once the retailer had those consumers enrolled in its community, its next task was getting them engaged. However, that wasn’t hard because all the retailer had to do was ensure that it was providing value to the community members, says Krebs.

Shoppers find that value, for instance, by offering professional designers offering advice. “ is a place where people can go and find inspiration,” he says.

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