Consumers have changed their approach to shopping since gaining access to more technological resources. Rather than going into furniture stores to search for a product, inquire about its features, and establish a long-lasting relationship with a brick and mortar establishment, they are turning to their smartphones and tablets to find their ideal product at the perfect price point.
Fortunately, technology has not made physical furniture retailers obsolete. In fact, the fear of purchasing a pretty couch that turns out to be uncomfortable or a table that does not fit the intended room still drives people to stores. The only change is that consumers have a clearer understanding of what they want to purchase prior to their store visit.
With that in mind, furniture retailers should heed the following advice for appealing to a new generation of consumers, known as omnichannel shoppers. Their purchasing behavior and preference consists of both shopping at a physical retailer as well as online.
Create a seamless experience.
Instant gratification is a must, so making the shopping experience as convenient as possible will increase sales. Give consumers multiple outlets to research products. Depending on how they shop, a person may engage in either “webrooming” or “showrooming.” A combination of both may also occur.
Webrooming involves researching products online prior to visiting a store to view them in person. The store visit comes with the intention to buy. Conversely, showrooming starts with checking out a product at a brick and mortar retailer and then turning to an online store to procure the product at a lower cost. In order to cater to both types of consumers, retailers should have a physical location and a website that fulfills the wants of omnichannel shoppers.
An online platform is a good place to provide the specifications of a product, so consumers can measure their space to make sure it will fit. In addition, retailers should use online platforms to share other information that can boost the chances of a sale, such as color swatches and an example image of how a piece of furniture looks in a space. To enhance the customer service, having an online representative available to answer questions encourages consumers to explore more and may reduce barriers to purchase.
A brick and mortar store allows a person to see a product in person and test its comfort. Further, it provides an accurate representation of what a sofa or table looks like, so a consumer can decide if a color matches their room scheme or a product’s size fits the intended space. While it is not advised to offer different shipping prices in-store versus online, reducing shipping costs by purchasing in-store can be viewed as an added benefit of purchasing directly from a brick and mortar location.
Analyze shopping behavior.
Omnichannel shopping creates a new opportunity for retailers to better understand their consumers. Retailers can create marketing and operational strategies based on what shoppers are viewing on their site and how they are purchasing their products, among other factors.
According to the TMO Group, retailers that execute a successful omnichannel shopper engagement strategy have the potential to retain nearly 90 percent of their customers. The statistic is more than twice the retention rate of companies that are not active in omnichannel engagement. Google also indicated that the demographic possesses a 30 percent higher lifetime value. For these reasons, having an omnichannel program in place to leverage information efficiently and convert it into a sale is essential for future success.
For example, a retailer may determine that a significant percentage of their consumers want to support a local store. However, the option to purchase online is more appealing. To give shoppers the best of both worlds, a brick and mortar establishment can give buyers a “ship-from-store” option, which consists of shipping products from the closest store available.
This option improves customer satisfaction by reducing delivery time and, possibly, fees associated with shipping. The tactic also enables retailers to stock products based on regional preferences, thus alleviating inefficiencies derived from operating a large warehouse with inventory that does not take into consideration local buyers’ wants. Rather, it focuses on the old-school model of having an abundance of products just in case they are ordered.
In terms of marketing and advertising, a retailer can utilize consumer data to influence purchasing behavior. The concept of a customer-centric, channel-agnostic retail model boosts sales activity because it takes into account consumer buying habits and expectations. To maximize potential, a retailer may realize there is more value in combining the marketing, merchandising, and planning efforts of both their store and ecommerce teams to create a single strategy for omnichannel shoppers.
An ecommerce team can weigh in on products peaking consumers’ interest online during a specific timeframe and work with representatives in a store to develop marketing collateral that strategically promotes those items. In the same respect, the team, as a single unit, can create digital collateral that targets specific audiences most likely to purchase a product, based on need or want. The approach increases awareness among prospective buyers about products that may interest them, which potentially can increase sales.