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Optimizing Furniture Retail Strategies for a changing customer

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.

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