February 14, 2022
7 Trends to Build a Successful Ecommerce Business as a Furniture Brand
This blog post was originally published by Deliverr, which is now Flexport. The content has been adjusted to fit the Flexport brand voice and tone, but all other information remains unchanged. With the merging of Deliverr’s services (DTC fulfillment, B2B distribution, and Last Mile delivery) into Flexport’s existing international freight and technology services, we’re now able to provide merchants with true end-to-end logistics solutions spanning from the factory floor to the customer’s door.
With the rise of eCommerce in recent years, consumers now expect to be able to buy everything from groceries to cars online. According to the International Trade Association, a steady 8% growth in retail eCommerce sales worldwide is forecasted through 2024. This convenience has fostered increased opportunities to turn your eCommerce business into a thriving brand.
But for some high-touch verticals like the furniture sector, it can be challenging to make the move online when more established brands have taken the lead. With the home decor market estimated to reach $838.6 billion by 2027, however, now is the time to strategize how to stand out from the competition.
Read on to learn more about key trends that can help furniture brands make their mark in the online market and maximize sales.
1. Provide virtual shopping experiences
Online furniture shopping comes with both pros and cons for the potential buyer. On one end, they don’t have to worry about fitting an item in their trunk or being bothered by overly persistent salespeople. But on the other, buyers want to rest assured knowing that the quality of a furniture piece will meet their expectations.
So how can retailers overcome these conflicting needs? Enter virtual shopping. With virtual reality experiences, shoppers can see how a piece of furniture would fit in their home without ever having to go to a brick-and-mortar store. With only a smartphone or other camera-enabled device, shoppers can transform their living room to a furniture showroom in just a few clicks.
One brand that uses virtual reality to create an exceptional online furniture shopping experience is Mercury Row on Wayfair. The shopper is given an empty 3-dimensional room and can add multiple items from the brand’s product catalog. All they have to do is input their room dimensions to get started. Within the experience they can rotate furniture, customize the wall color and floor type, and add items to their cart based on the selections they’ve made—creating a personalized, user-friendly experience.
2. Optimize your website for mobile viewing
Creating a seamless online shopping experience is crucial to drive a conversion. If your website is too difficult to navigate, images won’t load, or if essential information is missing, a potential buyer will abandon your site and go elsewhere.
This is grounds to optimize your eCommerce site for mobile viewing, especially since mobile payments are on track for a growth of 24.5% by 2026. This will help ensure that visuals fit comfortably on-screen, information is strategically linked for shopper convenience, and the checkout process is as seamless as possible. If your product can’t be bought using a smartphone, the consumer will shop elsewhere. Don’t let your website design become an obstacle for potential buyers.
3. Offer virtual design consultations
With people spending more time at home, redesigning and updating spaces has become more prevalent. By offering consultations through your website you can grow your brand and make connections to increase customer loyalty. Even with the convenience of virtual shopping, some shoppers still want a one-on-one experience to get questions answered promptly.
Crate and Barrel does a great job of offering design consultations through their website. The Design Desk connects shoppers with a design expert who will help them work with the furniture they already have, offering expert styling and advice to make their vision a reality. There is also a chat option for quick design questions. Best of all—the service is free of charge.
Offering design consultation helps bridge the gap between shopping in a brick-and-mortar store versus an online shop. The virtual design consultant can get to know the customer and offer a high level of expertise to increase the likelihood of the shopper making a purchase. It also provides an opportunity for the consultant to make recommendations, bundling items that may not have been considered if the potential buyer was just scrolling the website. It provides valuable feedback for your team while boasting a memorable experience for the shopper.
4. Prepare shipping samples to bring your brand to the shopper
Three-dimensional images and consultations are a great way to cater to the buyer and provide a clearer picture of the product. But one thing missing from the online furniture shopping experience is the ability to touch a product. Samples can be curated and sent to potential buyers, especially those wishing to customize a piece. Consider color swatches, fabric samples, and pamphlets that would typically be provided when furniture shopping in a traditional store.
This can reassure shoppers that what they see online is what they’ll get when it arrives at their home. It gives the shopper peace of mind while allowing your brand to ensure the order will meet the customer’s expectations. Moreover, samples can help avoid bad reviews and unhappy customers down the road by allowing the shopper to be as knowledgeable as possible before making a purchase.
5. Set your brand apart by using personalization
Getting to know your shoppers is critical to being successful as an online retailer. Finding out about their preferences through surveys and reviews can help you better market your product. Consider sending personalized emails with the customer’s name, ask for feedback on recent purchases, or reinforce your brand’s commitment to their positive shopping experience. As you gain more insight into your shoppers interests, offer exclusive discounts and promotions and send complimentary product recommendations based on previous purchases. Personalizing advertisements for their particular needs can help you stand out from the competition.
6. Offer exceptional customer service throughout the buying process
As with any retailer, the level of commitment to the customer’s experience can make or break your business. Communication is key when selling online and should be clear throughout the buying process. Confirmation emails, shipping notifications with tracking information, and follow-up emails let the shopper know you are invested in their experience. It also can allow customers to get the information they need, links to resources for questions they may have, and alleviates their concerns for a smooth shopping experience. A positive experience encourages the buyer to revisit your store and recommend your shop to others. Offering support for the consumer throughout the purchase is a great way to be proactive and shows your brand’s dedication to the overall experience.
7. Leverage user-generated content to build your brand
Creating a trusted brand hinges on your reputation with customers. Take advantage of happy shoppers by offering a place for reviews and an opportunity to upload pictures of furniture from verified purchases. The popular furniture website Houzz displays customer reviews as well as a rating scale out of five stars. The site also breaks down the rating into categories: value, true to description, quality, and shipping. This paired with authentic pictures from previous shoppers provides valuable information for those who may be on the fence about purchasing a product.
In the online shopping realm, customers depend on the reviews of others to help solidify their decision and get trusted feedback before committing to a purchase. This is also a way to engage with customers by encouraging them to interact with your site post-purchase.
Making your eCommerce business stand out as a furniture brand means doing your best to translate traditional shopping experiences to virtual ones. Using technology to make your products visible in 3D, offering samples, and providing consultations are just a few ways to make your brand stand out in the saturated market and drive business growth.