It’s a booming market
The furniture market is rapidly growing. The UK is the second largest furniture consumer market in Europe, with Germany being the largest. Reports show that in 2020, UK households spent approximately £14.4 billion on home goods such as furniture and furnishings.
Although, some may argue that home furnishings were in demand during the pandemic – with everyone redecorating and remodelling their homes – it actually put a huge restraint on the market. Supply chains were unable to trade efficiently, deliveries were delayed, and consumption decreased due to lockdowns globally.
However, 2021 seems to be looking much more positive for retail in general. Sales on average have reported to have had an increase of 16.1% in February 2021 compared with January 2021, and since last year the market has increased by a total of 5.1% in sales. Furthermore, the news article, Furniture Today has predicted that the furniture sector will continue to grow throughout the year, with an overall anticipated growth of 3.3%.
In order to keep up with the rise in demand, smaller businesses must now adopt the latest ecommerce and industry trends, to be able to compete within the growing market and offer the experience that today’s consumer expects.
Now let’s take a look at two of the most effective trends of 2021, that furniture retailers can implement to offer a superior online customer experience.
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Augmented reality (AR)
Larger pieces of furniture (e.g. sofas, beds and dressers) that are more costly are treated as investments, and most consumers (approximately 80%) still prefer to buy these products from showrooms so that they can see, feel, and gage the product’s size before making a final purchase. However, we know that a major trend of 2020 and 2021 is ecommerce – it’s growing and it’s growing fast. It is no surprise that technology has been built to try to combine both experiences.
AR is a relatively new piece of technology that allows retailers to give their customers the ability to ‘try before you buy’ online.
In 2017 virtual dressing rooms were introduced with the concept that customers can try on clothes whilst shopping online at home. Then furniture retailers decided to adopt this ‘try before you buy’ technology to add an additional layer of personalisation that even an in-store experience cannot provide. Ikea and Wayfair, earlier adopters of AR, have stated that it has hugely driven their sales.
Further reports have revealed that 60% of people shopping for furniture online have stated that they would like to do so through AR technology. I for one would love the option of AR when shopping for furniture. I think it adds another layer of customer experience – and it sounds fun!
Say you wanted a new dining room table but was unsure of the size and shape of the table in your space. This software allows you to see the item within your own home in its real life size.
“Ultimately, the furniture industry is transitioning towards an even more visual and customisable experience. The industry needs to meet the consumer demands for the customer service experience, and be able to provide an experience that is unique and unmatched in order to earn their dollar. This includes the flexibility to shop with ease and the same expectations from the comfort of their home. While e-commerce and the online experience are paramount, it is important that traditional retailers don’t forego their core services, continue to provide excellent customer service and try to meet the needs of the customer on a day-to-day basis in order to stay competitive.”
Some of the most popular AR commerce softwares include; Elementals, Spark AR, Vossle, and Bundlar.
2020 revealed that over half of online shoppers expect online stores to accommodate their needs through offering personalised experiences, such as relevant product recommenders, content, and live chat. The need for personalisation has only grown in 2021.
“77% of all people will only engage with messaging on a website, if that messaging is personalised to them.” – Adapting to the Changing Behaviours of the Online Consumer, Rachel Swann, Commercial Director
Our recent market research (March 2021) revealed that SMEs are currently searching for proven solutions that allow them to deliver better customer experiences, achieve their ecommerce goals, and stay ahead of the competition. Out of the selected larger SMEs 25% of them were from the furniture industry. After further questioning we found that the solution that people were most interested in to achieve their goals was personalisation.
Now that people are trading online more frequently, the likes of Amazon and other big ecommerce companies are the ones that their customers will compare their products, prices, and services to. Amazon are experts at offering seamless experiences and one of the main ways that they do this is through their real-time personalised content.
In our recent podcast ‘The Journey from High Street to Online’, featuring Yorkshire furniture retailer, Naj Hussain founder of Comfy Homes discussed how impactful personalisation has been to his business since moving online.
When the pandemic hit Comfy Homes quickly decided an online model was the only way for survival. Shortly after adopting an ecommerce strategy they implemented PureClarity. Within 60 days of using PureClarity’s personalisation software 20.8% of their total orders were due to PureClarity with an average order value increase of 5%.
Like many furniture retailers, repeat purchases from the same customers of highly priced products are rare. People tend to buy a bed or a sofa once every blue moon. Understanding this Comfy Homes decided to harness the power of our product recommenders and personalised content. Naj, goes on to say:
“Every customer is different. Everyone has different tastes and personalities. Furniture is an extension of your personality, so personalisation is a great tool to connect better with individual customers and show them the products they want and will like online.”
How can PureClarity help
PureClarity are experts in delivering personalised and unique shopping journeys. We have a vast range of experience of working with online retailers, providing strategic advice and tools to overcome ecommerce challenges and drive online conversion.
We offer a range of inclusive features that support and help fulfil your ecommerce goals.