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The importance of having online tools

Everyone needs furniture but what makes a furniture store successful?

I’ve come a long way working in the furniture industry and later on with VividWorks’ digital selling tools. Thanks to my history, I not only have long-term insight about the industry itself but also about the tools needed to succeed.

My early days in the furniture industry were the stepping stone when VividWorks began to market 3D technology solutions. For example, Denmark and Sweden had a flourishing furniture industry, but online 3D technology had yet to be introduced in the sales process.

Today, approximately 75 percent of consumers research products online prior to visiting a physical store to make a purchase. The ongoing Covid-pandemic is pumping those numbers up and providing proper online tools has become a must for most businesses.

More options and better planning leading to customer satisfaction

The furniture industry can be described as a conservative industry. After the outbreak of Covid-19, many companies said that the situation opened their eyes and now there is a growing need to find a way to present products without travelling or meeting face-to-face.

Some companies have online catalogs or limited e-commerce solutions but with these tools one can only browse through different products, not configure or tailor them. Proper online tools provide almost limitless options that are available 24/7. Consumers want to see the exact version of the product they desire before even considering the purchase – who wouldn’t? People won’t buy what they can’t see. AR and VR technology make it possible to see the products in the environment and space they are planned to be set.

This shopping behavior can be seen as a benefit for the retailer. Thanks to the tools provided, consumers have clear ideas when entering the shop or contacting the salesperson. Seeing and co-designing the product beforehand also eliminates most pre-purchase concerns. Also, when the customer builds something, the price is no longer an issue.

Not always or all the way online

The interesting thing about the furniture business is that despite all the online selling tools, most people still want to make the decisions at the shop, especially when the purchase is big. With this behavior in mind, furniture stores utilize digital tools in combinations. For example, there can be an online designing tool on the homepage where customers have the possibility to play around with different options and dreams, and continue the experience finalizing the design in the shop via Digital showroom with a salesperson who can provide additional information and insight if needed.

Digital tools can also take showroom layout planning to a new level, especially nowadays as stores should be considerate of customers keeping social distance. Store managers and salespeople can use the solution every day to redesign the showroom layout and to plan for future designs to incorporate new furniture pieces, collections and style themes. These layouts can then be shared with other store managers and designers for feedback and inspiration.

There are many ways to utilize technology and different digital tools, online or at the shop. The most important lesson to learn is that technology supports a better shopping experience and as studies show, when it comes to shopping, 65 % of all people prefer experience over price.

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