In 2020, everyone knows that it’s essential for businesses to have websites. That’s simply a bare minimum. However, so many business’ websites look like they got stuck in the 90s. Outdated designs, inaccurate availability information (or, worse, no inventory indicators at all), and awful checkout procedures dissuade potential customers from purchasing. Over 75% of all customers prefer to find products online first. So if your furniture store doesn’t have a website, or has an outdated brochure-style website, it’s time to step up. Having a basic, brochure-style website without modern features can make a tremendous impact on your brick and mortar store. And that was the case when COVID-19 hit the U.S. hardest in 2020. That’s why we’ve created this checklist of the 5 best furniture website features most valuable in 2020.
When reviewing your store’s website, it can be rather overwhelming. Where should you start to improve it? Which features will offer the most bang for your budget? At the recent Furniture Today Leadership Conference, City Furniture’s Andrew Koenig shared with retail leaders that technology investment is worth it. It may be a big investment at first, but pays dividends when it matters most.
This checklist is the perfect road map to improving your website and quickly seeing more digital foot traffic and revenue. We will talk about the following best furniture website features:
- Accurate product information
- Item availability
- Design Room Plan
- Shopping Cart
Read on to learn about these critical features for your furniture store’s website.
You can’t throw a virtual stone without hitting 500 websites with a chat tool these days. That’s because having a tool, like LiveChat, feature on your furniture store’s website is absolutely essential. It enables customers to get their questions answered fast without having to make a phone call or email. LiveChat is great for helping clinch a sale online. Much like your store would do with the phone. If a customer has a question about the product, they can quickly get it answered within seconds. Your retail sales team can help steer potential customers towards items they may be most interested in.
Home furnishings has one of the highest abandoned cart rates in the retail sector. Over 50% of carts are left without a purchase. Increase the likelihood that they will complete their purchase by enabling LiveChat on your website. Many customers won’t bother reaching out via email or phone if they have a question. They’ll simply leave your website and make a purchase from another business. Retain customers and entice them to make purchases effectively by having LiveChat on your retail store website.
LiveChat has also been beneficial for retailers after the sale. If a customer has a problem with shipping or logistics, they can quickly and accurately get the issue addressed with the company. For instance, if there are inventory problems or shipping delays, LiveChat users can impart information to the customer. This minimizes stress and any frustration that may arise. Customers will be more likely to purchase from your business in the future, even if minor issues arise when LiveChat is available on your website.
2. Accurate SKU Data
Did you cringe when you read the opening paragraph about websites being stuck in the 90s? Perhaps you were thinking about the inaccurate product information on your website. How many items should be updated? Think about the descriptions and photos of each item and estimate that number now. When was the last time your business updated the product information?
The vast majority of people research items online before coming into the store or purchasing online. And when many stores closed down as non-essential businesses, online was the only option. But if your furniture retail website is missing vendor product data, how will customers know what you have to sell?
Having an updated website with impeccable product descriptions is absolutely essential. If product descriptions aren’t accurate, potential customers will get frustrated fast. They might spend 2 hours researching an item online and find the perfect one on your website. Then they find out that the product information on your website wasn’t right, so they can’t buy the item. Do you think that person will consider purchasing from your company in the future? There’s no way. Update product information, including descriptions and modern photography of each item.
Invest the time and manpower necessary to ensure your furniture business’ online product information is up-to-date. It will help you stay in business in 2020 and beyond.
3. Item Availability Features
Supply chains around the globe are in disruption. Orders are backed up weeks to months. And many manufacturers are limiting inventory to maintain revenue flow. Retail stores around the country needed a quick way to identify which products their shoppers could actually purchase. But many were left without a solution. Leaving customers to inquire or purchase a product that is months away from a delivery. Creating mass confusion and dissatisfaction among retail shoppers.
If a customer orders an item and your website is out-of-date, they will be so upset if their order doesn’t go through at all or is canceled. Many people spend hours researching and deliberating before making a purchase. All of that time will have been wasted. There’s no way they will come back to purchase items from your company again. Sometimes businesses hesitate to spend time and manpower on maintaining their website’s product and item availability information.
On average, it costs about $60,750 per year to maintain the accuracy of this data. Is it really worth that investment? Unequivocally, the answer is yes, especially as the pandemic drags on. Everyone is shopping from home and many are restricting the time they spend in stores. Shopping online for furniture and everything else is becoming even more normal than it was pre-pandemic.
4. Online Room Planning Tool
More people are shopping for just about everything they need online. So crafting an in-store experience online is more important than ever, even for furniture stores! Plenty of furniture business owners think that the key to success is in making the in-store experience great, but that’s short-sighted. Especially now, your business’ online presence is more important than ever.
Optimize it with a design room plan feature on your website. Customers will be able to authentically discern how items will work in their spaces. They will likely be more comfortable buying items on your website when they can get an accurate idea of what they look like in person. Interactive design consultations are easy to put together using this feature. When customers plan out a whole room on your site, they may even purchase everything from your business. It’s easy to convert items from the online design room plan to the shopping cart and purchase within seconds.
Online room planning tools may seem complicated to set up, but there are plenty of cloud-based options, including this one from MicroD. Investing the time, effort, and financial expense required to enable the design room plan feature on your company’s website is wise. Everyone loves to research and shop from home, especially during Covid!
Plenty of furniture business owners are intimidated by the thought of adding a design room plan feature to their websites. But it’s really not that difficult or costly when you use cloud-based options such as the one offered by MicroD. It’s the ultimate way to make customers feel like they’re at home and comfortable making purchases that will work well in their unique space. Add a design room plan feature to your furniture business’ website and you’ll be totally thrilled with the increase in digital foot traffic and venue generated on your website. It’s one of the best furniture website features that offers an excellent ROI.
5. Shopping Cart
Last and certainly not least, is the shopping cart. We’ve talked a lot about the value of an eCommerce experience in 2020. If you missed anything, you can read about it here. Strengthen customers’ experiences on your business’ website by optimizing their shopping cart experience. There are so many websites that have cumbersome shopping cart experiences. This deters customers from purchasing. Businesses should shoot for a load time per page, especially in the checkout section, of 3 seconds or less. But the data shows that many customers simply won’t. They’ll just click away from the page and move on.
Businesses should also take care to reduce the number of fields in the shopping cart section. By simplifying the checkout experience, customers will be more likely to complete their purchases. Even reducing the number of fields customers have to fill out by 2 or 3 can make a tremendous difference. There will be fewer abandoned shopping carts and higher revenues when customers can breeze through the transaction quickly. Sounds like a win-win for customers and businesses!
Shopping cart optimization seems rather simple and trivial, but it’s fundamental to maximizing the customer experience on your website. Delete any unnecessary fields for your customers to fill out so they can finish their purchase faster. Make sure your shopping cart pages load in 3 seconds or less. Paying close attention to shopping cart details can boost your business’ bottom line dramatically. It’s one of the best furniture website features furniture business owners should hone in on.
Honorable Mention: EDI
We promised 5 features to the website but, like 2020, we had something extra to add to it. Because this honorable mention doesn’t exactly fit on your website. But it does create a path for your website and your retail store to run at its best. And that is EDI. If you’re new to what EDI can do for retail, read that article. It’s important to note that this year was king for eCommerce. This means that your logistics and supply chain with vendors is critical. So when the best and most successful retailers asked what could make this process better, they found EDI.
Electronic Data Interchange with a company like MicroD connects retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, and logistics companies all together to speak the same language in this ordering and fulfillment process. For many retailers, EDI created automation where so many manual processes (and errors) were in place. For others, it opened the opportunity to get order acknowledgments and shipping notices faster than ever. And that means happier customers at the end of the mile. So while it may not be related to your website, it’s a 2020 must-have feature that retail stores need to carry into 2021.
Adapting to Customer Preference in 2020
Savvy businesses are always making efforts to understand their customers and cater to their preferences. This is just as important – if not more – online. Plenty of furniture retailers concentrate on enticing in-person customers to make a purchase. This is great, but only part of the equation. Even before 2020, so many people shopped for furniture online.
The pandemic has dramatically increased the number of customers who shop online for furniture as well as for everything else. So investing in making sure your product information and item availability are accurate are certainly worthwhile, particularly during this era of social distancing. Many people are still restricting the time they spend in public and limiting contact with people as much as possible. This is particularly true in areas where a 2nd wave appears to be starting. Enhancing your business’ website to offer the best possible online experience is very smart in 2020 and into the new year.
Covid-19 has accelerated the need for businesses to pay even more attention to the features on their business websites than ever. Adding and optimizing these features was certainly important before the pandemic began. Now it’s even more essential. Pick one of these best furniture website features to focus on for your website, and complete it before the end of 2020. That way, your business will definitely start 2021 off on the right foot!