Today´s consumers can choose from a vast variety of access routes to products or services. They love to participate actively in product design and definition, and they demand pleasing shopping experiences whenever and wherever, no matter which device they use and no matter what product they buy, be it music download, fashion or electronics.
Online furniture shops have not yet managed to really enter this loop. The industry´s reaction time is still hampered by too many “show stoppers”. Imagine for instance shipping big sofas: This may take weeks, and even under the friendliest return policy a return would create a major headache for the buyer. Mind that we have not even mentioned the visual furniture presentation quality which online shops would have to provide if they really want to support buyer decisions with the necessary efficiency.
Customers´ Expectations on the Rise
Modern shoppers are flexible, networked and, most of all, omnipresent: The point of sales is not a point anymore, it has become a vast space, and customers get involved across platform borders on widely different contact points, including mobile devices, home computers and brick&mortar shops. Inspiring customers and leading them efficiently through choosing and buying will force furniture stores both online and physical to develop new skills, brand environments and shopping experiences. A fusion of “online” and “offline” across all contact points may successfully establish a new partnership with customers.
The demand for omni-channel furniture shopping is on the rise, and so are expectations and requests: Customers would really like to order furniture like they buy t-shirts, inspecting choices online or in physical shops, collecting information and advice, buying with a few clicks, receiving shipments within days and sending back what they don´t like.
There is ample room for improvement here, especially for the furniture industry. Expectations are huge, and fulfilling them with a seamless, homogenous shopping and service experience, one that is both pleasant and perfectly matched to individual customer requirements, will take a serious effort.
Know Your Customer: Get the Right Data From the Right People
Creating a flawless shopping experience is hardly possible without knowing the buyer´s current position in the customer lifecycle and his or her channel preferences. The best practice is to run all available sales channels parallel, bundling all marketing and communication channels. One precondition for developing a productive omni-channel strategy is a consistent data base for all customer contact points. The focus of the process is inevitably on the customer and his requirements. Mid that this is the only chance to extract the right data from the right people, because “channel-hopping” is a matter of course for today´s customers. Also mind that from the insights gathered here, all existing and future intuitive and innovative solutions related to planning, furnishing, buying and designing furniture will be derived.
Of Course Omni-Channel
The omni-channel theme is still a bit of a wallflower in the furniture industry. Retail has not yet fully realized that furniture can be marketed online and presented digitally in ways that really support a buyer´s decision-making.
What customers really want to do is to plan and to furnish. They want to select furniture, configure it individually, view it in convincing 3-D and augmented reality and take virtual walks through furnished rooms. They appreciate service and support along the way from selection and decision-making all the way to buying after-sales service. Meeting customer´ needs while providing a perfect shopping experience will make all the difference.
These are the challenges the furniture industry is facing, and retailers who meet them by combining all sales channels and applying innovative solutions based on latest technology will manage to keep their competitive edge for the foreseeable future.
Roomle – Bring Your Plan to Life!
All Roomle-related developments are directed towards omni-channel solutions for producers, retail and consumers. The intention is to provide furniture buyers with quality support in all walks of life, learning about their needs and catering to their preferences. All existing and future intuitive and innovative solutions connected with planning, furnishing, designing and marketing furniture and decoration items can be derived from knowledge gathered here. Roomle offers user and shopping experiences on quality levels which are unique in the world of planning tools, thanks to latest technologies which help to simplify interactions.