It isn’t always easy to manage furniture customer expectations. To win customers, it’s necessary for retailers to create a connected online experience that’s easy to navigate, keeping inventory updated and also engaging with consumers online in a fun, interactive way.
As a Product Marketing Manager at PERQ, I’m constantly talking to people about their online research habits, especially when it comes to furniture shopping. It helps me to work with our team to create interactive experiences online to not only help consumers, but also improve furniture retailer websites to better manage furniture customer expectations in order to drive more in-store sales.
My co-workers at PERQ also know I like to hear about their online shopping experiences, so I can continue to find solutions to website visitor’s pain points. Two recent examples really stood out, and when I walked away from those conversations, I knew there were some educational tips I could share with furniture retailers to improve the online experience.
“I began my research by seeing what was available on websites like Wayfair.”
Sean Larkin, a Sales Development Representative at PERQ, bought a new house this spring and needed to furnish it. Like most consumers today, he started with a simple Google search. “I began my research by seeing what was available on websites like Wayfair,” he says. He knew, ultimately, he would purchase at a local store in person, but had to first determine what type of furniture he wanted to buy and what he could afford.
After looking at Wayfair, he begin researching local stores. “I looked at about six stores online and visited two of those stores,” says Larkin. “I didn’t end up buying from those stores though.” Sean told me he found himself frustrated and ready to settle when there was no consistency or interaction between the furniture retailers’ websites and when he visited the store. After a futile effort to purchase at a local furniture store, he settled for a purchase from Macy’s.
It’s a must that furniture retailers win both the online experience and in-store experience. They go hand-in-hand. From my conversations with furniture shoppers, I gained some helpful tips to create a connected online experience to move those website visitors into your showroom and manage furniture customer expectations.
Make Your Furniture Website, and Store, Easy to Navigate
Just like you focus on the aisles of your showroom and keeping them clean of clutter, do the same for your website. You can help to manage furniture customer expectations through an easy, guided experience online. Buyers don’t want to figure out a puzzle of a website. Lead them where they want to go, just like your best salespeople do in the store.
“The most frustrating part of my online shopping experience was the unorganized keyword search bars,” said Matt Keller, a Sales Development Representative at PERQ. “There was no helpful tool to really narrow down what I was looking for.”
Re-doing your furniture store’s website navigation structure or search capabilities can be an expensive overhaul, but you can look for other ways to engage consumers and guide them through their shopping journey. Interactive experiences, such as a mattress assessment that guides consumers to find the mattress fit, is one way to improve the navigation process without a complete site overhaul.
Manage Furniture Customer Expectations by Keeping Product Inventory Updated
Consumers want to know what you have available in your store and what it costs. They want to know this before they even come into your furniture store – meaning your website needs to be up-to-date as much as possible. And if they see it on your website, they expect that same furniture to be in your showroom. Yes, it gets daunting when you consider all the custom options, colors and fabrics, but try to mirror your digital showroom to your physical showroom as much as possible.
“What I saw online and in-person were two completely different things,” Keller says. “Eventually, I just stopped online shopping after five long, frustrating months.”
Also be sure to have accurate dimensions available online. Consumers research on your website to better understand not only what products could be right for them, but how something could potentially fit into their home. A little information goes a long way when you’re helping to manage furniture customer expectations.
Engage and Interact with Your Consumers in a Respectful and Creative Way
Consumers are thirsty for real, useful engagement. In a showroom, consumers don’t want to feel like they’re being stalked or followed, but they also want someone to be available to help if needed.
The same goes for online. Consumers want to engage with you in an easy fashion, but on their terms. Give them a way to engage and interact with you. Online interactive experiences such as “Ask an Expert” or “Request More Info” give consumers a chance to raise their hand with a question when they want to do it, on their own time.
“Furniture store websites were very boring and static with no real way to engage or interact with the brand. They didn’t offer a whole lot,” Larkin says of his online furniture shopping experience.
Furniture stores have an opportunity to help to manage furniture customer expectations and stop buyer frustrations. Consumers are shopping and researching online and are pre-conditioned to expect great things from your website. Don’t let them leave your website feeling disappointed with their experience. Engage and interact with them – start a conversation that will ultimately bring them into your store and not a competitor or big box retailer.