The trajectory of the furniture industry is rapidly changing, in no small part due to the turbulence experienced during 2020. Much of the changes affecting this industry though are occurring around innovations in technology and the move towards more ecommerce options. From changes in marketing, to adapting the means by which people view and purchase furniture—the industry is quickly moving towards meeting the needs of their customer from both a digital and in-store perspective. Here we highlight a few areas that are evolving to better meet consumer needs digitally, and how they are influencing retailers.
In an instant gratification society, customer experience is King, and one way to meet these needs is through tailored experiences. More than half of shoppers generally are expecting brands to offer up tailored suggestions and personalize the experience for them before they even engage with a brand. And each year the competition for this level of personalization increases. In order to meet this demand for personalization, businesses are collecting as much data as possible and using product information management (PIM) software so that the interests and behaviors of the consumer can be properly aligned with the right products. Personalization and tailored experiences work particularly well for lifestyle retail categories such as furniture, and provides another avenue to capture consumers by showing them that a brand’s product can meet their furniture needs.
Once a consumer has committed to a big furniture purchase, many do not have the patience to wait anymore for that piece to be in their home—and any delayed gratification, could be a deal breaker. Millennials are the largest furniture buying demographic, and having grown up in an ecommerce world, don’t want to wait. They are used to instant gratification with their shopping experiences, so are naturally gravitating towards purchasing directly from brands, or through companies who can immediately supply their purchase. This is obviously a challenge for in-person retailers though due to the need to keep a lot of inventory on hand to meet these needs. One avenue to address this is by offering fewer upholstery options in pre-assembled pieces so that the customer can have that cash and carry option.
Another avenue used to stand out in this industry is to incorporate augmented reality (AR) into the customer experience. Furniture shopping is inherently visual, so it only makes sense that this trend would emerge as a means to bridge the gap between the in-store and online shopping experience. By using cameras, sensors and in-app technology, big purchase items can be overlayed within the customers environment for immediate visualization. This helps provide a level of assurance as to fit, size and aesthetic, and reassures the customer that their purchase will exactly fit their needs. The opportunity to essentially try out the furniture is an unmatched offering that can set apart both online and in-person retailers.
While AR can be a great tool to utilize, another feature gaining popularity is visual searching technology. Many companies are moving in this direction, and it is slated to significantly disrupt the way people search for products—although it is not anticipated to fully replace text-based searches just yet. Companies with visual search capabilities are projected to increase their digital commerce revenue by 30%, and the technology alone has been more widely adopted in recent years. Many brands such as IKEA and WayFair have been leading the way with this trend, with Facebook recently increasing their investments in this technology. Having the technology available will only help further the goal of a personalized shopping experience across the industry.
Technology is rapidly changing, and with those changes businesses need to adapt in order to better meet the growing expectations of the consumer. The furniture industry is uniquely suited to optimize these trends to fit both an in-person and online retail experience. Through carefully targeted and strategic initiatives, companies can easily use technology to promote both their marketing efforts and their salesmanship. Proper use of the technology to personalize the experience, help the customer visualize the pieces they are interested in, and provide a direct to consumer or cash and carry model will help meet the instant gratification needs, while also providing assurance that they are making a smart purchase.
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