If you’re new to furniture retail or want to start from scratch in building a retail website, this article is for you. We’re going to explore easy steps to help you. You’ll learn how to create a retail website for your furniture store and how to measure success over time. For furniture retailers that already have a website, read more to see if your website experience is on the right track.
Create a Website Design Style
You have heard it before and we’ll say it again. Your retail website is an extension of your brick and mortar store. When it comes down to how to create a retail website, the design is critical. Retailers need to create a website design that mirrors the showroom.
Why Design Matters
Design is an important stage of building a retail website for a few reasons.
First, it gives your customers the first expectation of the in-store experience. If your showroom is a modern, clean, simple design then your website should duplicate that style.
Next, your website design will showcase the most important elements of your business. If your store is a very consultative design-based store, you will want your website to convey that information. If most of your showroom is filled to the brim with the product, you may want to incorporate more product features into the website design.
Focus On Navigation
Once you’ve determined an overall look or theme of your design, it’s time to focus on the navigation. If you want to know how to create a retail website that is successful, this tip is critical.
Retail website navigation determines the user experience online. What does that mean? Think about your website navigation like a retail store layout. Retailers design the flow of a showroom to make the shopping experience very customized. Some retailers choose to design vignettes throughout the showroom and focus on the brands. Other retailers choose to focus on the category and group all living room sofas together. The website navigation should be designed the same way.
Here’s how you can make this decision.
First, look at local competitor websites. This should be part of your research in learning how to create a retail website that reaches your target audience. If your competitor designed a website that you admire, take notes and build it into your initial layout.
Second, look at successful eCommerce websites. Now that you know how your local shoppers are browsing local competition, you need to expand. Visit retail eCommerce websites like Wayfair, Overstock, Pottery Barn, or other nationally-recognized home furnishings retailers. When you find a consistent theme of the navigation, build a retail website navigation similar to it.
Third, if you have a website already, look at your own data. Make decisions based on data you can collect. Whether from your competitors or your own website. If you use Google Analytics, look into the analytics and find out how customers shop your website. This information will be critical in learning how to create a retail website that works for your existing shoppers.
Collect Vendor Product Data
Without a doubt, vendor product data is the most critical component of your website. Retailers cannot learn how to create a retail website without working with their manufacturers.
A retail showroom can’t be successful without products. And just like your showroom, you cannot create a retail website without products.
If you want to try this alone, contact manufacturers to request the online product catalogs. Retailers find this piece the most challenging. Because getting the data one time is great. Keeping the product data accurate is the challenge. You can’t leave discontinued items on your website just like you can’t leave them on the showroom floor. Up to date and accurate vendor product data can make or break the retail website you create.
If you want to use a partner, make sure they have the product catalogs that will work for you. Some vendors have partnerships with the manufacturers and others will simply go to the internet and find the product data. Vet these partners carefully to create the best retail website for your shoppers.
Things to Look For in Vendor Product Data
Here are some things you can look for to evaluate the vendor product data from your partners.
- Does the data include images?
- Does the data include product descriptions?
- Are item details included?
- When is the last time the catalog was updated?
Build Website Content
Now that you have a design theme, user navigation, and vendor product data, it’s time to build out the content.
In this phase to create a retail website, you need to consult an SEO specialist. Content on your website plays two core roles.
- Improve online user experience
- Improve search engine ranking
Content will help your shoppers learn about your retail store. The most successful retailers include content pages about the store, the history, and the advantage they offer. For retailers with an interior design consultation, content around design is crucial. All of this content will set the expectation of the shopping experience. You can add a blog to your website for an easy way to continually add more content.
SEO content is important because you need the traffic to that new retail website. It is important to have an SEO retail content strategy before you begin. Consult with an SEO specialist to create this strategy. SEO content is not an immediate traffic driver. But without adding SEO content in the early stages of creating a retail website, you will lose the long term impact. Talk with your SEO specialist about the local markets you serve, the keywords that are important to your business, and they will build a strategy for you. SEO is not a one and done solution. So when you create a retail website, you need to create the ongoing SEO strategy as well.
Maintain Retail Website
A retail website is not a static resource. Like a retail showroom, it should be dynamic and updated frequently. But you can’t make changes without a strategy.
Review Google Analytics and your website analytics before you make website changes. You won’t just learn how to create a retail website. You’ll learn how to maintain its success over time. Maintain the integrity of your store and your website with frequent updates.
Google likes fresh content often. Your SEO team should be maintaining the website content to stay ahead of Google trends.
Start ranking your products based on what is the most popular on the website. You’ll need great analytics from your website platform to showcase this data. If you offer custom furniture, you’ll need even better analytics to create a retail website with customizable data.