Whether it's a new country coffee table or a swivel recliner, furniture purchases are never easy to make. They require time and research for shoppers to feel confident that they're making the right decision.
What's more, the $100 billion annual furniture market is highly competitive, so patrons have a lot of choices to pick from. The companies that can best help customers move forward in their purchase journeys are the ones that succeed.
Technology can save the day—and the sales—in the increasingly crowded world of furniture retail by doing what it does best: creating convenience. We'll look at three specific ways that tech integration can help consumers find the right furniture for them.
Tech outsmarts limited floor space
Any retailer understands the pains of expensive floor space, especially if they sell large products like sofas or bathroom counters. To keep costs low, furniture stores may have to limit the amount of merchandise they can display in their showrooms.
Imagine a customer enters a small showroom, hoping to buy a specific dresser. They've already checked out possible solutions on a few e-commerce websites and become familiar with different materials and finishes. Usually, brick-and-mortar stores don't have the floor space available to house multiple options—whether it's maple, highland oak, or royal cherry. If the customer finds the dresser but it's in a maple finish rather than oak, they'll be less satisfied with their in-store shopping experience.
Thankfully, tech can solve this dilemma by bringing the virtual product offering into brick-and-mortar stores. Visual merchandising—through an in-store kiosk or tablet—can display products in every color, fabric, and style from various angles, so customers know what to expect if they make a specific purchase. They no longer have to buy "sight unseen".
Tech answers customer questions
Customers are already integrating their web and offline experiences. According to the 2016 Deloitte Holiday Survey, 84% of shoppers will research holiday gifts online before visiting a brick-and-mortar store to complete their purchases. The survey also shows that patrons will only research some of their gift purchases, such as large or expensive ones, before they buy. And more than half of customers will check out online product reviews as part of the research process.
What this means is that shoppers want to be informed when they're making purchases. Brick-and-mortar furniture retailers can help customers by giving their sales associates tablets that provide crucial product information, like reviews. That way, when a customer has any questions or uncertainties, the sales associate will be able to provide them with the solution and help them move along their purchasing journey.
Tech personalizes the shopping experience
Brands such as Amazon and Netflix tailor the user experience to each customer, with up-to-date recommendations based on past actions. In part, personalization explains why these brands are so popular. According to an Accenture survey, 57% of consumers want to receive real-time offers and promotions.
Tech can easily provide a personalized shopping experience. For example, a POS solution with robust reporting can identify a retailer's top customers—those who regularly visit the store and make a purchase. With that knowledge in hand, sales associates can make sure these individuals' needs are met when they enter the store. Specifically, they can look up a patron's profile and discern their preferences (no industrial styles, please!) so they can quickly focus on what best suits the customer's interests.
Furniture and technology together
The innovation of technology can help make furniture shopping more convenient and satisfying for customers. By integrating tech into your furniture store, you'll confirm that your products are seen in the best light—so shoppers are compelled to make the purchase.
Find out how you can use iQmetrix's Endless Aisle to boost the in-store shopping experience at your store.
Feature Photo: GoodMood Photo / Shutterstock.com