Flipping through paper catalogs within a furniture store is slowly becoming an obsolete element of the discovery and sales processes. These days, shoppers conduct product research digitally. During the first quarter of 2018, 52% of shoppers did their shopping on a mobile. Customers expect easy electronic access to all your merchandise rather than an in-store showroom visit. Making your brands known to your online shoppers means integrating digital catalogs on your website.
Digital catalogs allow you to get rid of the paper catalogs from furniture manufacturers cluttering your showroom. Visitors can do a deep dive into different product lines with a few taps of their fingers. They can find out information about product lines you carry, customize fabric options, and learn about the hottest new introductions.
Still wondering if it’s worth the investment? Here are six reasons why it is and why you should make it an integral part of your furniture website.
Expand Your Customer Reach with Digital Catalogs
Switching to digital catalogs allows your business to move at a faster pace. You can introduce new products to customers from the moment a manufacturer launches a new collection. When your catalogs are quickly updated on your website you’re able to dramatically reduce the time it takes to present your new offerings directly to customers. Think about it, you may be the first retailer in your area to show off the newest merchandise!
Your physical store can benefit as well. We live in a heads-down, smart-device society. Whether it’s a store computer station set to display your digital catalogs or a customer’s mobile device, shoppers prefer to educate themselves before engaging with your sales team. Let them check out your offerings online and then ask questions. More educated shoppers, turn into more confident buyers.
Better End-to-End Business Integration
When you integrate a retail management system (RMS) into your business as part of your digital catalog you get seamless integration between your pricing and inventory. Customers who are browsing for an item at 3:00 am on your website will know if you have it in stock because your RMS pushes those updates to your website.
Gives customers 24/7 access to all the brands you carry. Whether the items are in-stock or able to be ordered from the manufacturer, the options are endless with digital catalogs. They’re easy to share across different platforms. When a shopper shares a sofa she’s fallen in love with via social media, your store is top-of-mind for that shopper and her entire social network. Makes updates easy to manage. How long does it take for a manufacturer to assemble, print and ship paper catalogs to your store? What if a collection changes or a product is dropped? A customer that has her heart set on a dining set only to be told it’s out of production is going to get frustrated with your store. But, with digital catalogs, updates happen quickly and the data is always accurate.
Inspire Product Confidence in Buyers
Customers always find a way to come up with a custom design you may not have ready for immediate viewing. They want a visualization of the idea in their mind and may not be satisfied with reassurances from salespeople that yes, you can get them what they want.
Imagine your salesperson immediately being able to pull up a catalog item and allow the customer to try out different combinations of fabrics and colors right there in the store. This is the same functionality that you offer them on your website. They automatically become more educated and confident buyers because they can see their design. The reassurance of seeing customization come to life goes a long way towards closing sales.
Improved Lead Generation Opportunities
Your digital catalog can also present you with a prime opportunity to collect information from potential buyers. If a shopper sees a product they like in your digital catalog, they can request more information from your store with a click of a button. That user will fill out a form that emails the store. Your sales team can then follow-up with that shopper on the exact item they inquired about.
In addition, access to a digital version of your inventory makes it much easier for shoppers to do their homework and evaluate your offerings. They can share the digital catalog with friends and family ready to make purchasing decisions (social sharing is so important). You could find yourself receiving a new order within a couple of hours of providing visitors with information. Digital catalogs make it easier to find your retail business through an online search. Google wants to see content on your website and it gathers info about your site by indexing the pages. Digital product catalog pages automatically give you hundreds of thousands of valuable indexable pages.
Better Data Insights From Your Customers
Selling efforts to either business or consumers means knowing your audience and learning from their shopping patterns. Infusing digital catalogs with the power of machine learning and other interactive technologies lets you access valuable information. Artificial Intelligence (AI) learns to interpret and anticipate the needs of your customers and place corresponding collections directly in their view.
You can figure out the path they took to purchasing from your website. Data tools let you know how buyers found your catalog and which brands they took the time to browse. Plus, you learn what consumer trends look like in your store. Which is the most popular collection, piece, or fabric. Gathering this information allows you to learn what’s most popular with different types of customers and inform your own purchasing needs as a furniture merchant, your email marketing efforts, and your curated showroom vignettes.
Questions Data Insights Can Help You Answer
- Should I order more of an armchair style/brand?
- Do you see conversions from linking products to your social media sites?
- How many items are being purchased directly from your online catalog?
- Are people taking the time to customize products in the catalog?
- Should I increase action calls prompting sign-ups for email lists?
The information gleaned from users going through your digital catalog can help be used to fine-tune your business processes and digital marketing campaigns. You can also improve your interactions with customers and find additional opportunities for engagement.
Transition to eCommerce
Digital catalogs are an excellent way for retailers to ease themselves into the world of e-commerce. Having a rich product assortment on your website allows users of all types to find exactly what they need for their space. The more information your digital catalogs offer, the more confident buyer they become and the more ready they are to purchase from you. When you add product pricing and an ecommerce utility, you can close sales even when your brick and mortar is off the clock.
No business is immune to the encroachment of mass online retailers like Amazon. There’s a real danger of even seemingly impenetrable markets like furniture being swallowed up. Failing to continue expanding your e-commerce marketing effort could leave you playing catch-up with them and other market competitors willing to invest.
MicroD specializes in helping furniture retailers establish a strong online presence with digital catalogs. With over 300 manufacturer catalogs (filled with product specifications, descriptions and high-resolution images) and product visualization tools, we can help you build out and optimize your digital catalog for consumption by today’s digital consumers.
Start your digital evolution today by contacting us at (800) 964-3876 or learn more about how the manufacturing product catalog data feeds work on your website..