A fantastic showroom or retail location and stunning products aren’t enough to stand out in the competitive furniture industry. Furniture brands need an exceptional online presence too.
According to Furniture Today, 8 out of 10 consumers have purchased home furnishings online. Mobile devices are gaining ground too. Google found that one out of every two furniture searches happened on mobile devices.
Whether you’re a furniture vendor in the B2B space or a retail location selling directly to consumers, both your physical showroom and your online presence need to WOW customers at every interaction and across every channel.
Exceptional customer journeys
Research from Deloitte found that nearly 70% of consumers go online before they shop in stores, and 36% connect to the web while in stores. Similarly, a B2B study found that 60% of respondents said their customers spend more overall when those customers touched multiple channels. Whether you’re a furniture retailer or vendor, you must use a mix of channels and outreach efforts to delight customers online and offline.
For example, a wholesale furniture brand might meet a prospect at a furniture market, walk them around their showroom, and they happily purchase. The same furniture brand meets another prospect at market, walks them around their showroom, but they aren’t ready to buy. This prospect needs to be nurtured into a purchase. The brand follows up via email, showing the same product discussed in the showroom and includes a coupon to buy online. This consistent experience across channels, combined with a persuasive offer, motivates the customer to purchase.
On the retail side, you run into similar situations…
A businessman visits a retailer to buy a new office chair. He shows the clerk a picture of the chair he wants, but they don’t have it in-stock. The helpful sales rep signs him up for their email list on her iPad, and a few days later, he receives an email that the office chair is now available in store.
Though each prospect was nurtured via an individual mix of channels, the seamless customer experience from the showroom/in-store, email, and website keeps prospects engaged throughout the sales cycles and guides to the purchase.
Map customers’ journeys to deliver an exceptional experience
Brands that understand their customers’ journey can enhance and guide a pleasant path to purchase.
To map the customer journey, first identify different audience segments, called personas. Then, figure out the different actions each persona is likely to take, so you can identify them. For example, attending certain kinds of in-store events, opening specific-themed emails, or viewing product categories are all ways to identify the person’s interests.
Next, map out the mix of information, channels, and promotions that motivate each persona or turn them off. (We know mapping out different customer journeys can be overwhelming, but our customer journey toolkit, has simple tips, questionnaires, and worksheets to help you out.)
For example, a furniture retailer identifies moms shopping for college kids as one of their personas. Mom Kathy checks out dorm-sized desks online, but doesn’t buy one. Via web tracking, the furniture company knows she was browsing the college desks product category, and sets her persona behind the scenes. The furniture store emails everyone in their database who browsed college-related product categories a 10% off Back To School coupon code.
Mom Kathy uses the coupon code online to buy the desk. At checkout, she decides to save shipping costs by picking up in-store and selects the nearest retail location. On the way to pick it up, she receives a mobile push message offering an in-store coupon on college bedding. Mom picks up her desk and purchases the bedding. She could not be more satisfied that the furniture store anticipated her needs and saved her money.
By using a mix of channels to engage customers, brands can satisfy their current product search, upsell additional products, and nurture an ongoing relationship.
Mobile is critical to the customer journey
As demonstrated with Mom Kathy, mobile is hugely influential throughout the customer journey. Customers basically always have their mobile phones accessible and check them multiple times a day. In fact, nearly half (47%) of furniture shoppers in October used mobile devices, according to Furnituredealer.net.
When the customer clicks on your site, they need to be able to browse, compare, and purchase products from their tiny screens or they’ll visit a competitor’s website. They’ll open and read your emails from their smartphones too, so your emails need to be mobile-friendly. Also, don’t forget about mobile push! Customers are used to immediately checking push and SMS messages, and fewer brands are taking advantage of these technologies, so there isn’t nearly as much competition.
It’s also important to mention that Google boosts mobile websites in mobile search results and uses geo-location to prioritize local search – driving new customers to your website and brick and mortar locations.
Online + in-store customer journeys are an opportunity
Eighty percent of customers think brands don’t understand their individual needs. Furniture brands taking the time to understand individual customers and what makes them tick can leverage traditional and digital channels to always deliver the best possible brand experience. This approach of leveraging behavioral data to identify customers and what they need to best experience your brand is an endless opportunity to capture, delight, and retain customers.