Omnichannel Strategies for Personalization and Engagement

When shoppers visit your store in-person, it’s easy for sales associates to tell if they need assistance or if they would be better served by a hands-off approach.

Salespersons can point customers in the right direction and build a rapport. These personal touches matter, and all a salesperson needs is experience and intuition to accomplish this in the store. But when it comes to online interactions, how can you inject some of this immediacy and personalization into your website?

In order to create the same level of connection that customers would receive in store, your online presence requires engagement strategies that can feel individualized without being intrusive.

Why Personalization is Important

Customer relationships and online personalization are the top priorities for ecommerce executives in 2022, according to a survey conducted by CommerceNext in partnership with CommX.

When you’re coming up with fresh ideas for engaging your customers, try not to confuse personalization with customization. Customization will allow your customers to see different color swatches for a particular couch.

Personalization, on the other hand, is about showing solutions that are relevant to them. A personalized ad can use data gathered from online activity to send a customer information about a product they might be interested in. If a customer has been searching for recliners on your website, the “recommended products” section of your website can direct them to your top sellers.

Think about the following questions as you work through ways to personalize your website:

To provide your customers with an experience that addresses all of these questions, your website needs to be properly optimized.

Challenges In Web Personalization

It can be frustrating after years of perfecting the in-store buying journey to navigate a whole new frontier of communication online. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by data when you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. You need a plan to use the data you gather for personalization and engagement. Misinformed or mistargeted engagement might turn off more customers than you gain.

Feeling comfortable with online personalization might take some time if you are just getting started. But, there are some tried and true tactics that work for any business, big or small.

Personalization Tactics That Work

Amazon has perfected the algorithms that help the retail giant understand and influence its customers’ shopping habits. You can use some of those same techniques in a way that’s unique to your business. Here are a few ideas to engage your website visitors by playing up your strengths as a local retailer.

On-site Engagement

Events and Promotions by Location: It’s possible to track site visitors using their IP address, showing you where they are when they interact with your business. You can then use this information to show them deals, promotions, and sales from stores in their area.

Surveys and Quizzes: If a visitor signs up for a newsletter or gives you their email address during a purchase, send a follow-up email to gather their feedback — even if they haven’t made a purchase yet. Include a survey to ask about what recent sales initiatives they liked and which ones they ended up passing on. Use this information to refine and improve any future campaigns.

Personalized Product Recommendations: If customers have been searching for a specific type of furniture, show them suggestions that are relevant to them. This takes some of the burden off of your customers to search through hundreds of options.

Off-site Engagement

Targeted Remarketing: Using personalized marketing techniques helps visitors see ads relevant to them. Compared to simple display ads with no personalization, targeted ads have an average of about 10 times higher click-through rate.

Shopping Cart Reminders: Sometimes visitors get distracted and don’t get all the way through checkout. Sending them reminders about what they left behind can bring them back to complete the sale and improve your abandonment rates.

Email Campaigns: With the information you’ve gathered from your customers and visitors, you can craft email campaigns that are directed at their interests and needs. You can create email lists for every customer who bought furniture during a promotion and invite them to come back for the next big sale.

Chatbots For Retailers

Having a chat option on your website is an important personalization tool for retailers. Once chatbots have been integrated into your site, you can more easily close deals with online shoppers who are ready to make a purchase online.

Chatbots are helpful tools when retailers use them to respond to simple and frequently asked questions, like how to get to the store, what are store hours, and other basic information. By filtering out those customers, a LiveChat feature can then connect the remaining customers with a sales professional.

Tools like chatbots or LiveChat are not only used as part of the initial product search but they can also assist with questions when customers are making purchasing decisions and when they move to post-sale.

Here are some things to know about chatbots right out of the box:

If you haven’t implemented tools like a chatbot into your website or integrated your own personalized marketing tactics, make it a top priority. Even if a customer never meets a salesperson or walks into your business, it’s still possible to create an online experience that’s up to your standards. All it takes is a little guidance and a solid strategy.

If you’re ready to form your own online personalization strategy, scheduling a demo of the digital tools you’ll need along the way.

Optimizing Furniture Retail Strategies for a Changing Consumer

The future of omnichannel furniture retail is all about the consumer — and the modern consumer wants a personalized shopping experience. For some, that includes spending time on the website while others prefer visiting the retail showroom. According to research by the IBM Corporation and the National Retail Federation (NRF), 40% of consumers in the home goods category use a hybrid shopping method, mixing in-store and digital channels. They expect brands to support that buying journey.

Think of the customer journey like an iceberg. The part you see above water is the in-store experience. It represents their decision to walk into your store, pick a product and make the transaction. But just like an iceberg that exists mostly underwater, the majority of this interaction happens below the surface — and it starts online. Everything that happens before your customers walk into your store is the online shopping journey. And in today’s world of retail, that bottom of the iceberg represents about 90% of the shopping journey.

Some of your customers are looking for exclusively online shopping experiences, like an online room planner. Others want to make a trip to the retail store — but only when they’re ready to make a decision on their purchase. It’s also possible they’ve already made their decision and they’re just going to pick it up.

To appeal to hybrid customers, you need to create an engaging experience to close the deal in both the physical and digital arenas. Your online experience and how you engage retail shoppers online can be the deciding factor for either group.

What We Have to Change

The most popular strategy in furniture retail is still to focus primarily on either the website or the retail showroom. But, the future of furniture commerce is about providing one seamless experience. Both the website and the brick-and-mortar showroom should be equal partners.

Changes to the retail landscape in 2020 brought plenty of competition to this space. Wayfair saw exponential growth, especially in home furnishings. Manufacturers put value in the retail channels that could drive the most sales when volume was the biggest challenge.

Many retailers had to close down showrooms and rely exclusively on digital channels to generate sales. But now, a substantial brick-and-mortar strategy with an equally reliant web strategy is the only way toward a successful furniture retail business. Consumers demand it.

Recalibrating the Retail Website Experience

Most retailers will need to optimize their online experience to compete in this new hybrid market. Here are some tips to get your business on the right track.

1. Focus on Analytics

Analytics show so much more than how many visitors are coming to your website. The future of omnichannel furniture ecommerce is about connecting all of your business systems and reviewing the data to see how consumers interact with your business on each channel.

Analytics should be the first step when reviewing potential optimization opportunities. Retailers have to stop just focusing on the number of leads from a website, especially if they don’t provide prices to complement online listings because it won’t show the full picture.

Retailers that want to thrive in the future of furniture ecommerce will take all of the data from their website, Google Analytics, RMS and point-of-sale systems, and any third-party marketing technology to create a holistic view of the way consumers interact with their business.

Which brands are the most visited on your website? Does that match what happens in the showroom? Which of those same brands have information on available inventory, product information, and pricing built into their data?

Analytics can answer these questions and help you to determine what’s working for your business as a whole — not just what’s happening on your website.

2. Improve Product Data

Digitally merchandising furniture to favor trending items that also align with a shopper’s personal style encourages them to keep exploring your website. A modern website is no longer a static place — it’s a dynamic digital showroom. And it should appeal to a variety of customers who land on your pages.

Are you struggling to keep your digital product catalog up-to-date? Is it a tedious and costly process? When information is outdated, this creates a poor customer experience. Even your most loyal customers who write glowing reviews and refer all of their friends will be disappointed. It’s vital that you have systems to update data straight from the manufacturer and that you automate the process to reduce excessive work hours spent doing monotonous updates.

3. Make Product Discovery Easier

If you’re a retailer, you can employ smart search engine optimization (SEO) practices to help content rank high in searches over time. As more people visit a product page, it will move up in the search engine ranking. Search engines want to show users content that’s popular and relevant to them. The same goes for social media. As you gain traction, you’ll find social media sites, like Instagram and YouTube, begin recommending your content to new customers.

All product data has to be digital and available on your website. It needs to be complete, accurate, and consistent with your in-store brands. This is the hardest part of taking your product data online. Here are some tips that can help:

Set a goal for content creation. It’s so easy to push content creation and listing updates to the back-burner during the busy season. But if you can be consistent all year, you’ll get to the point where customers begin to discover content organically.
Create a schedule to reach your goal. You can’t set a goal for content creation without a plan for how to get there. Setting a schedule for this progress helps you stick to your intention.
Use product data on your website to improve the product discovery process. Embed videos and image galleries into digital sell sheets and product catalogs. Provide customers and partners with stunning imagery, the kind that makes them feel inspired and trust the quality of your products.

4. Ensure Your Website Is Versatile

Because consumers are using multiple devices at different times throughout the buying journey, furniture website design is more challenging today than it was a few years ago. Retailers need mobile-friendly pages to attract customers using smartphones to shop. But, no matter the device, your website should complement the brick-and-mortar showroom experience.

Want to create a more optimized and modern omnichannel buying experience for your
customers? scheduling a demo of Revalize’s digital solutions that can make this possible.

The New Furniture Retail Buying Journey

The new furniture retail buying journey is one that takes place both online and in-store. Today’s furniture shoppers want limitless access to product information, customer service, and interactive experiences. Whether they are on their electronic devices or visiting the store, consumers expect to be able to engage with brands, manufacturers, and retailers.

From the minute they land on your website, your customer should understand what you sell and how they can make a purchase. The first step is to create an online shopping experience that matches what customers expect from shopping in-store.

Digital tools can make it feel like your website is staffed with a full set of furniture experts. From personal shopping tools to live chat software, you can continue to build onto a strong digital foundation that makes shoppers feel like they’re getting a customized experience.

Here are the stages of the omnichannel buying journey you can refine to make online and in-person shopping cohesive for your customers.       

Discovering Your Brand

The discovery phase of the buyer’s journey is the point where your potential customers are just that — potential. These customers are called prospects. They’re in the stage when research is their top activity, and your goal should be to pop up during their research.

When buyers are at the beginning of researching products, they may not be looking for something in particular. They’re just looking for content that inspires them, often using social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. You can use this to your advantage by warming them up to your brand while they’re still in this phase.

After all, furniture isn’t an impulse purchase. That’s why the awareness stage isn’t about finding the right product — at least not yet. It’s simply about getting prospects acquainted with your brand.

Here’s what the awareness stage looked like in the past:

Years ago, customers became aware of your business through the yellow pages, TV commercials or simply by driving past your store. Companies ran radio spots, printed flyers, hosted tent sales or sponsored events to get people into their stores.

Here’s what it looks like with a modern omnichannel strategy:

The internet has changed where discovery takes place. It’s important to meet customers where they are spending the most time. Today, that includes a lot of digital spaces like social media platforms and search engines.

They’ll see your furniture advertisements while scrolling on Facebook. They’ll search Google for new furnishings and, hopefully, come across local reviews that mention your business. Your omnichannel retail strategy needs to cover all of the online channels where prospects are researching for your products.

Weighing Other Options

The consideration stage of the buyer’s journey is the point when consumers begin comparing your store to others as they arrive closer to a decision. In some cases, they’re evaluating whether or not they even need the furniture piece at all.

Customers in the consideration stage usually don’t have loyalty to your store or know everything you can do for them. So, the goal is to keep shoppers engaged through social media channels, emails, or your website—whichever they visit

Here’s what the consideration stage looked like in the past:

Once a customer found your store, they came in to look around in person. Their primary interaction was with sales people. In this way, your sales team could learn about customers’ preferences and help them find the perfect set.

Here’s what it looks like with a modern omnichannel strategy:

While the actual sale might still happen in person, much of the consideration phase now takes place online. Shoppers can have a handful of tabs open with different styles and color options from various stores all at once — and from the comfort of their own home. They can even use online design tools to visualize what certain pieces will look like in their home.

This is a critical point in the customer journey. Prospects go through much of this stage online but some may pop into the store, too. You might see customers come into the store asking about something they saw on social media, or maybe they’ll call your showroom after reading something on your website. The goal is to guide this buyer to the decision-making stage.

Making a Purchase

The decision-making stage is the final stage of the buying journey. It’s the stage where a prospect is justifying their purchase decision. By this point, you may have an in-store visit from the customer.

If you use ecommerce platforms or allow customers to pick up products in-store after shopping online, you need to focus on product page conversions. Once a customer has decided to make a purchase, it’s a good idea to give them as many options as possible to pay. Digital solutions like multi-channel payment integrations and instant financing can make this process much easier than it was in the past.

Here’s what the decision stage looked like in the past:

Customers used to decide what they wanted and then sign up for financing or paid in full while in the store. You would schedule a delivery date that worked for you and the customer and then follow through with that delivery. This could be the end of your experience with that customer until they were looking to make a future purchase.

Here’s what it looks like with a modern omnichannel strategy:

Today, customers complete financing applications and check out online. So, your chances of having a one-on-one interaction in the store is unlikely. That makes your website’s conversion rate even more important. If you don’t offer an ecommerce option, customers may visit the store in this decision-making stage.

The relationship between you and your customers doesn’t have to end when they leave the store or close out of your website. If they added items to their cart, you can send an abandoned cart email to remind them about the pending purchase or continue to find ways to bring the customer back to your brand.

Reengaging Customers Post-Sale

Congratulations! You made a sale. Time to start the cycle all over again, right? Not exactly. Customers who have already made a purchase from your business can become repeat customers — one of the most valuable assets a business can have. Increasing your retention rate by just 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%.

It’s also much cheaper to market to existing customers, since you already know what interests they have and the type of products that interest them. This helps you target their future needs. If a customer purchased a patio set from you during a previous visit, you can send them deals on outdoor furniture and accessories that could complement the first purchase.

Here’s what customer reengagement looked like in the past:

Once you acquired a customer, your re-engagement campaigns were simple. Hand-written
holiday cards were common, so were event invitations for customer-only, in-store events.
Maybe you even called to get a review from the customer a few weeks after delivery.

Here’s what it looks like with a modern omnichannel strategy:

It’s critical to keep in touch with customers after the purchase. An omnichannel strategy is the best way to approach this stage of the buyer’s journey. They’ve made the purchase. But now, you have to make sure you’re continuing to delight them through engaging emails, retargeting ads, social media posts, and more. Why? So your store stays at the top of their minds for future purchases or referrals — not to mention collecting customer reviews. Technology makes re- engagement easy to do.

In a nutshell, this is what the typical customer expects from the furniture buying experience today. How well does your business fit into this new buying journey? If you see areas of your omnichannel strategy that could be improved, contact Revalize to learn more about the digital solutions that can help.

Why Omnichannel Commerce Is the Future of Furniture Retail

To truly become omnichannel, you have to bring all of your points of service and advertising together. Then, you can build a strategy around the best way to move prospects through the buyer’s journey and improve the customer experience.

 While the channels have changed, the customer experience has always been multichannel. But the definition of omnichannel retail has evolved as customer expectations have changed. Each business may define it a little differently. But an adaptable omnichannel strategy has always been the best way to reach success.

Building an omnichannel furniture retail strategy is how you reach more customers. It’s the way to provide an exceptional customer experience and earn more loyalty and referrals. 

The future of commerce in home furnishings is not a one-size-fits-all approach. But it does require a consistent omnichannel strategy. Retailers in the home furnishings industry need more than just leads and conversions. They need an explosion of growth in the business, with fewer staff and inventory control.

How We Got Here

For years, omnichannel strategies were more focused on using marketing channels to get conversions. Some more advanced retailers might have added a website presence to capture some leads, but it was mostly for surface-level interactions. Brick-and-mortar was the driver and everything else was secondary.

 But the consumer shopping journey has changed dramatically. Now, omnichannel means more than just a marketing strategy and a web presence. It’s about fully integrating your entire digital and traditional commerce experience.

Omnichannel Strategies

Before you step into the future of retail, make sure that you don’t leave your current customers behind. The right omnichannel strategy will introduce them to digital channels in a familiar way, complementing online interactions with real-world touchpoints. 

Retail furniture shoppers want to discover products online, customize them from the comfort of their own homes, visualize the end products in their space, and then visit your showroom to be able to touch and feel the sofa. An omnichannel strategy that supports this progression toward a purchase lets consumers have their cake and eat it, too. 

The more limitations you put on the consumer’s ability to find your product, interact with your product, and buy your product, the less likely you are to acquire that consumer.

Attracting Consumers with the Endless Aisle

The aisle in your brick-and-mortar showroom is limited, but an endless aisle on a digital platform can carry all your products at once. It’s one of the most significant benefits of having a robust website filled with product data. The more products you can show, the more customers can shop, and the more sales you’ll see. 

The endless aisle is at the heart of every consumer-first omnichannel strategy. It removes the roadblocks that could otherwise keep your products from the consumers who want them. Variety is your primary advantage as an omnichannel business, and the endless aisle helps you capitalize on it.

The Amazon Effect

Thanks to the Amazon effect, retailers and manufacturers are constantly competing with Amazon for product discovery. But now, with so many shoppers relying on local furniture showrooms to supplement product discovery experience online, retailers have found the Amazon effect is easier to overcome with an omnichannel furniture ecommerce strategy.

Fasting-growing Amazon Categories:
 High-priced electronics
 Luxury beauty products

It wasn’t always clear that consumers were willing to buy these kinds of products online. However, the success of these categories on Amazon makes it more imperative for competing retailers to focus on improving their online personalization. Without a robust web presence, you are essentially throwing profit out the window. 

But, you’re never going to beat Amazon at their own game. So, beat them playing your game. Amazon doesn’t have local showrooms like established furniture retail brands. They don’t have informed salespeople who know how to add a personal touch. They just have the endless aisle. And now, so can you.

Omnichannel furniture ecommerce takes the best of the brick-and-mortar experience and the best of the online experience and marries them together — not just for generating leads and not just for closing deals. The omnichannel furniture ecommerce experience is an end-to-end consumer-first strategy.

For more information on how to improve your omnichannel presence and reach customers with an endless aisle, contact Revalize to set up a demo with our furniture retail experts.

5 Ways to Improve Furniture Store Marketing

Your furniture store’s success relies on more than the strength of your sales team. To drive sales, you need to start by developing a marketing strategy that will set your business apart. 

Many retailers are intimidated by the idea of furniture marketing. They’re worried it will be too difficult to implement. But, no matter if your furniture store is large or small, advertising doesn’t have to be a dreaded obstacle. To get started on your marketing journey, take a look at these five tips for improving marketing for your business.

1. Keep Your
Website Updated

Most customers will research a company online before they shop in-store. This means it’s more important than ever for your furniture ecommerce website to be attractive, optimized, and user-friendly. If your website is visually outdated or difficult to use, consider giving it a facelift. 

Clean, fresh colors and intuitive designs appeal to users and encourage them to explore your website. Tools like augmented reality or 3D technology can help you display your furniture to customers so they can get a true sense of your inventory. Digital renderings give them the option to explore your products and augmented reality gives them the ability to see how those products would look in their own environments.

2. Create a Comprehensive Marketing Strategy

To create a comprehensive marketing strategy, you must approach customers from each of the following angles:

Traditional Marketing

Traditional outlets like print, radio, and TV have always been a go-to for furniture store marketing. Although many industries are moving away from these avenues, it can make sense to put some ad budget into them. Since not everyone shops online, you don’t want to ignore older generations if they’re part of your customer base. Don’t put all of your eggs in this basket though, either. Digital marketing is most likely where your ad spend should be the highest.

Digital Marketing

In the “age of Amazon,” digital marketing should be prioritized. If you're not marketing digitally, you're losing sales. Full stop. Furniture retailers looking to increase online traffic need to find SEO services to bring local traffic and pay-per-click services to expand their reach fast. There are a lot of ways to tackle digital marketing for furniture stores. Starting with the basics, there's search engine optimization, pay-per-click ads, rich content, social media, podcasting, and more. It's important to work with a seasoned marketing agency or individual who can help you utilize all of your marketing assets — both digital and traditional — to their fullest potential. Both types of marketing should work together to drive online and in-store sales.

3. Engage Your Audience Where They Are

One of the most important furniture store marketing strategies is identifying your audience and engaging them through the platforms they use — you can’t assume they’ll just find you on their own.

Who is your audience?

The first step to discovering which platforms to use is identifying your target market. What age group do they fall into? Where do they live and what is their income? What are their hobbies? What are their pain points? Understanding what drives them helps you to better relate to them and, in turn, helps you develop more targeted marketing campaigns.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools available today. However, it’s important to find out what channels your target market prefers. Posting pictures and videos of your products on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok can help you reach the Millennial/Gen Z market. Or, if you’re focused on selling classic or traditional furniture and housewares that could appeal to an older demographic, you may want to target audiences on Facebook or Pinterest. Find out where the people most likely to buy from you spend their time. Then, go meet them there.

4. Keep Your Customers Coming Back

Furniture store marketing is critical for customer retention. The cost of acquiring new customers far exceeds keeping current customers, so it’s important to keep your customers engaged with your brand. Don’t market only to potential customers. Make an effort to market to your current customers to maintain their relationship with your business. When your customers feel supported, they will continue to be faithful to your brand. And that means more sales in the future.

5. Give Your Sales Team What They Need to Deliver Results

When your furniture store marketing efforts begin to work, it’s important that your sales team knows how to close the deal. Leads only matter if they convert to sales. That means your sales team needs adequate training to help potential customers through the entire buying journey. 

Educating your sales team about your products will allow them to pass that information along to the customer and answer any questions they may have. It also means giving your sales team the tools they need to show the benefits of your products over your competitors. This can be in the form of brochures, demonstrations, or hands-on comparisons. Ask your sales team what they need to make a better impression on potential customers. 

Don’t forget to give your phone representatives training, too. Your sales team should be able to close a deal over the phone. Customer service representatives should be able to troubleshoot problems and resolve customer issues in a positive manner. While not directly related to marketing, it’s critical that when your marketing efforts bring people in the door that you’re not pushing them right back out with misinformed customer service.

Find Out What a Marketing Strategy Can Do

Furniture trends may fade in and out of popularity, but solid marketing will always be in style. Creating a brand image and getting your mission and story out there to potential customers is the start of creating a solid customer base. Marketing is a never-ending process and it should continually be refined. 

Review analytics and find out what works and what doesn’t work. Put your ad dollars into marketing tactics that have proven effective for you and keep optimizing your campaigns. Listen to the feedback from customers and potential customers. Listen to the feedback from your sales and customer service representatives. 

If you keep looking for ways to improve your marketing and the service you provide to your community, you can cultivate a strong brand and set your business up for growth year over year. 

For questions about the different tools you can use to up your furniture marketing game, schedule a demo with us and discover exactly what your business needs to create effective marketing campaigns.

Request a Revalize demo to learn how you can bring better sales and marketing alignment to your business.