The future of commerce in home furnishings is not a one-size-fits-all approach. But it does include one powerful, consistent strategy. Omnichannel is not a new strategy, though. Wait–we’ll explain. Retailers in the home furnishings industry need more than just leads and conversions. They need an explosion of growth in the business–with less staff and inventory control. That’s where an Omnichannel furniture eCommerce strategy will separate those who will thrive from those who only survive. We’re going to walk through what an Omnichannel furniture eCommerce strategy looks like, how best to implement it, and what it looks like for the future of commerce.
Why Are We Talking About Omnichannel
It’s no secret that the retail industry has talked about Omnichannel for years. But omnichannel was more focused on marketing channels to get conversions. Maybe advanced retailers added a website presence to capture some leads. But it was surface-level interaction. Brick and mortar was the driver, and everything else was secondary. We like to call this “Omnichannel Lite.”
But after the pandemic of 2020, the consumer shopping journey changed dramatically. Now, Omnichannel means more than just your marketing strategy and your website’s presence. It’s about fully integrating your entire digital and traditional commerce experience for the retail consumer.
Omnichannel = Consumer-first Commerce
The Future of Furniture eCommerce is Omnichannel
The future of omnichannel furniture ecommerce is all about the consumer. Today the home furnishings consumer is demanding. Everyone wants a personalized shopping experience, and many of them like that to include some time spent on the website and some time spent in the retail showroom. What has to change in our existing strategy is the focus primarily on either the website or the retail showroom. The future of furniture commerce is about one seamless experience. Both the website and the brick and mortar showroom are equal partners in the future of furniture commerce.
Changes to the retail landscape in 2020 brought the competition to life. Wayfair saw exponential growth, especially in home furnishings. Manufacturers put value in the retail channels that could drive the most sales when the volume was the biggest challenge. Many retailers had to close down brick and mortar showrooms and rely specifically on the website to generate sales. But now, in the wake of the new era of retail, a substantial brick and mortar strategy with an equally reliant website strategy is, quite frankly, the only way to do business well.
And that’s because consumers demand it.
Retail furniture shoppers want to discover products online, customize them in the comfort of their own home, visualize the end product and rely on the tangible touch and feel of the sofa in your showroom to make the final purchase. The right strategy is the Omnichannel strategy, where these consumers can have their cake and eat it, too.
Because the more limitations you put on the consumer about how they find your product, how they interact with your product, and how they buy your product, the less likely you will acquire that consumer. And in a time when finding the right consumer is so critical, “no” is not an option.
Let’s start talking about what the specific areas of omnichannel should look like in the future of furniture Commerce.
Omnichannel and the endless aisle
Endless aisle is another term many retailers are familiar with, but once again, that definition continues to expand. Shoppers are looking for products everywhere. The aisle in your brick and mortar showroom creates a limit to the net you can bring in for new sales. An endless aisle brings the products that you can sell in the store into the digital space. It’s one of the most significant benefits of having a robust website platform with product data included. The more products you can show, the more customers can shop, the more sales you’ll see.
The Amazon Effect
Several years ago, the topic of the Amazon effect was front and center in the retail marketplace. Retailers and manufacturers both were competing with Amazon for product discovery. But now, with so many shoppers relying on local showrooms to provide a product discovery experience online, retailers have found the Amazon effect is easier to overcome with an Omnichannel strategy.
In other words, you’re never going to beat Amazon at their own game, so beat them playing your game. Omnichannel furniture eCommerce takes the best of the brick and mortar experience and the best of the online experience and marries them together as one complete experience. Not just for generating leads, not just for closing deals. The omnichannel furniture eCommerce experience is an end-to-end consumer-first strategy.
Recalibrating the Retail Website Experience
The furniture retail website experience is where the significant recommendations come in for retail store owners. The future of Commerce and Omnichannel strategy for furniture does a great job on the brick and mortar side. But where most retailers are only surviving and not thriving is the retail website experience.
Focusing on Your Analytics
Analytics is so much more than how many visitors you have coming to the website. The future of omnichannel furniture eCommerce is about connecting all of your business systems and reviewing the data to see how consumers interact with your business on each channel. Analytics should be the very first step in reviewing successful performance changes and budget planning in your showroom. And retailers have to stop just focusing on the number of leads from a website, especially if retailers are not showing pricing on the website.
Retailers that want to thrive in the future of furniture Commerce will take all of the data from their website platform, their Google Analytics, RMS and point-of-sale systems, and any third-party marketing technology and create a holistic view of the consumer interaction. What brands are consistently the most visited on your website. Does that match what happens in the showroom? Which of those same brands have available inventory in product information and pricing built-in. What’s your order to cash like on these same products. Analytics is your first step in determining what’s working for your business as a whole. Not just what’s happening on your website.
Furniture Website Design
Because consumers are using multiple devices at different times in the buying journey, the furniture website design is more challenging than the previous. For years we’ve been talking about mobile-specific website pages as mobile-friendly pages and making so many changes based on Google’s best practice. And some of these things are still important. But when it comes to design for your retail furniture website, it needs to mirror the brick-and-mortar showroom experience.
Retail Website as Store Locations
Design on your website and layout of your products should match what happens in the retail showroom. For a truly omnichannel experience, retailers must create a synonymous online to in-store shopping journey. And you should use your data (see section above) to identify what design techniques and layouts serve your consumers the best on different channels. Use website design to create a meaningful shopping experience. That means advanced product visualization, customization, high-quality product photography, videos, and interactive elements to bring all of these in-store experiences online.
But omnichannel is a two-way street. The design of your retail website should match the furniture store and inform changes that happen in the retail showroom. Use the technology and layout of your website to power a customized and personalized in-store retail experience, especially for those shoppers that you can identify as digital-first consumers. Also known as those shoppers who saw you online first. An inconsistent experience is a negative experience.
Powerful Visualization Experiences with Products
Your furniture retail website is more than just a few product pages and a contact us form. Retailers who want to focus on a proper omnichannel strategy will take their retail website to the next level
- 4K 2D visualization
- Customized product draping
- 3D visualization
- Custom pricing and configuration tools
- Connections to third parties
- Integrating your business systems
The retail website is as vital as the brick-and-mortar showroom. So creating connections between your website and the vendors that make you successful is a priority. That also means pricing your products on the website. Retailers who are still focused and concerned about getting price budgeted online are the ones who will only survive the future of furniture commerce, not thrive. Every retailer needs to create an enterprise-level retail website experience. And have their teams using the retail website as a tool and not an afterthought.
At some point, it became taboo to talk about integrations. As if your website should operate exclusively without any other support from your other partners. But like the most successful people in business, you are better by those you work with. This is why you need to embrace third-party integrations that will boost your website and store consumer experience. Omnichannel is about embracing technology, not trying to hide it. Integrations can accelerate your performance.
So if your website partner is not engaged or developing solutions that bring these integrations to life, find another partner. Retailers cannot afford limits on their growth because commerce does not have a ceiling.
Scaling Digital Commerce
And this means finding a partner that can help you scale. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are not far-reaching features for a retail website anymore. Having the ability to grow without limits, create seamless interactions between your website in your showroom are not just benefits but standard operating procedures now.
Join the digital transformation at MicroD, where we are scaling commerce at the speed of business, integrating the retail website to create competitive consumer experiences built to drive customer engagement in business sales.