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Product Information and Visualization is Key for Furniture Retailers

In my last blog, I talked about the importance of capitalizing on your home furnishings customers’ micro-moments – those “I-want-to-know,” “I-want-to-go,” “I-want-to-do,” and “I-want-to-buy” moments that drive us to our smartphones. I also pointed out that, while many customers start interacting with your brand online, they expect to have a smooth, consistent experience at each interaction they have with your brand, whether it’s online, in a mobile app, or in your store.
So, what should you do to bridge the gap between what customers see on your website and what they find in your stores?

Provide accurate product information, images, and video

To bridge the divide between online and offline, product information and enriched content are becoming more and more important. Four out of five shoppers use product images to make home furniture purchase decisions. Consumers are more often turning to video to generate ideas for decorating their homes. In fact, more than 13 million hours of home furnishing YouTube videos were viewed in 2016.
Assuming these trends apply to your specific merchandising strategy, providing accurate information for each of your products online is critical. Product specifications like dimensions, color, and fabric must be accurate to make sure customers won’t be disappointed when they view the actual product in your store or on their porch.
Delivery options and timelines also need to be clear, easy to find, and accurate to guarantee customer service and satisfaction. Providing an easy “shopping cart” experience both online and in your store will help move customers through the purchase process. Recommending complementary or replacement items can also increase average order value.

Use product configurators and visualization tools to guide purchases

As they look through online product imagery and descriptions, prospective customers may start to zero in on specific manufacturers’ styles that suit them and proceed to check out those sites. The excitement kicks in as they find that some furnishing manufacturer sites provide the rich experiences that include a greater selection, life-like product configurators, and virtual (or augmented) design tools to help determine how a particular piece will fit in the room and complement existing décor. The customer may find the perfect piece right there on their home computer.
However, this is just a starting point for the furniture retail industry, which must take the visualization process one step further by allowing customers to not only visualize individual products, but to be able to customize and submit orders online. Product configurators can include option-based pricing, customer-based pricing, purchase rules, and presentation of only the applicable product options, which take dependencies into account during the product-selection process.
Tailoring a purchase decision to this level is usually not possible within the confines of a showroom or inspiration gallery and can provide the customer with a unique, perhaps one-of-a-kind, product.
Overcoming the anxiety and apprehension around a large home furnishings purchase is the key to conversion. Once a prospective customer has settled on a product or general style, he or she may then experience the “Am I getting the best value?” moment. Moving this shopper to the online shopping cart or to their car to buy in-store requires the ability to compare products and pricing, as well as feel confident in the quality and timelessness of their purchase.
To learn more about how to inform your customers and provide a seamless experience, download our guide, Bridging the Experience Gap in Home Furnishings: 5 Keys to Success, by completing the form below.

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Morgan Hardy, Marketing Coordinator

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