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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.

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