Marketing for Furniture Retailers: How Mobile Is Changing the Game

By: Audrey Moistner

There’s no question that the mobile age has arrived. Mobile devices — smartphones, iPads, tablets, etc. —  are dramatically changing the way consumers shop and how furniture retailers should manage their business. It is now extremely important to be up to date with the latest techniques in marketing for furniture retailers.


In 2015, as predicted, mobile traffic became just as prevalent as desktop traffic. Now, with 7.2 billion mobile devices worldwide and over half of all internet traffic coming from a mobile device, it’s essential for furniture retailers to adjust their website and marketing strategies to meet the demands of this massive mobile presence.


As a result of this mobile overload, mobile marketing is becoming an increasingly popular marketing tool for furniture retailers. Tools like location-based marketing, SMS marketing, and mobile search ads allow retailers to advertise and offer deals to their customers anywhere, anytime.


But mobile marketing for furniture retailers has sparked new conversations around how they have to engage visitors and how they must approach their website as well. It’s essential that furniture retailers not only have a website, but also a website that is fully optimized for mobile usage. Without it, there’s no doubt furniture stores will miss out on significant opportunities.


“You have to have a website optimized for mobile, there’s no question about it.”


“Everything is mobile,” says furniture industry expert Bill Napier of Napier Marketing Group. Napier went on to point out that there are still about 30-40% of retailers in the furniture industry that don’t even have a website at all. “Yet 85% of all searches for furniture begin on the web; and they wonder why they’re going out of business,” Napier continues.


With 85% of all searches for furniture beginning on the web and mobile web searches exceeding desktop searches, it’s absolutely essential that furniture retailers have a website that is properly optimized for mobile.


Why is mobile marketing for furniture retailers important?

Furniture shopping was once an activity that consumers preferred to do primarily in the store. Now, shoppers are increasingly relying on their smartphones or other mobile tablets to research, browse, and compare before making a purchase. Smartphone searches related to furniture “near me” have grown 85% in recent years.


It’s key for retailers to have this mobile option in order to be present for what are known as “shopping micro moments” for consumers. These are the moments that matter most — the ones where consumers are making decisions that move them along the buyer’s journey.


While consumers may not yet be at the point of actually purchasing all furniture from their mobile device, this research and browsing taking place on mobile devices is the first step in the buying process and presents a huge opportunity for retailers to turn browsers into buyers.


Early in the purchase journey, for example, consumers may be looking for a general product or style, but usually are not looking at one specific brand or retailer yet. This is an opportunity for retailers to get their brand in a consumer’s mind by having easy-to-access informational content about the products they have available.


The reality is that mobile has forever changed the way people shop. Consumers have a mobile device on them at all times and constantly consult these devices when making a purchase decision. Even when shopping in-store, it’s likely that most shoppers will pull out their phone or tablet and use it to compare prices with competitors, search for coupons or promotions, check product or retailer reviews, and more.


“Websites have to be mobile,” says Napier.  “If people are searching, whether they’re at their house, a party, whatever they’re doing, and they see something they like, they’re going to pull out their phones and see where to buy it, pricing, etc. Mobile is with you 24/7 — when you go to bed, when you wake up, everywhere you go.”


It is important to note, however, that research is not the only phase of the buyer’s journey that mobile is changing; shoppers are beginning to buy on mobile as well.


As the number of consumers purchasing on mobile continues to grow, retailers without a mobile-optimized website may see themselves losing shoppers in the purchase phase of the buyer’s journey as well. 


How should furniture retailers optimize for mobile?

Mobile optimization is important not only because of increasing mobile traffic, but also because Google now favors mobile friendly-websites and will soon be testing its mobile-first index. What does this mean? That Google will soon look first at the mobile versions of the website and will only look at desktop versions if there is no mobile version present.


Essentially, this change means that the lack of a mobile presence may not only lead to loss of customers in the research or purchase journey, but it could hurt a company’s SEO rankings as well.


Luckily, there are several steps that businesses can take to ensure that their websites are properly optimized for mobile usage. The first step is to see how your site is currently performing.


Google recently launched a tool to help businesses test their mobile performance. This easy-to-use tool will test websites for mobile-friendliness, mobile speed, and desktop speed. Once results have been determined, it will be easy for retailers to see which improvements need to be made on their mobile website.


Mobile speed is certainly a component that we suggest furniture retailers place a heavy emphasis on when optimizing their sites for mobile. According to Google, the threshold of time that consumers will wait for a site to load before leaving is a mere two seconds. If your site does not load as fast as possible, you may lose customers to quicker, better-optimized competitor sites.


Be sure to check the images on your site. One of the common reasons for slow-loading mobile sites is the presence of large images. By optimizing the size of all images on your site, you are likely to increase the load speed.


Another way furniture retailers can improve their mobile site is to include interactive experiences on the mobile version of their website. Since many shoppers begin furniture research on a mobile device, having interactive experiences on the website will help keep shoppers engaged on your site longer and guide them through the buyer’s journey step-by-step.


Interactive experiences can include assessments to help furniture shoppers determine their design style, and even which sofa or mattress is right for them, based on the answers they select. Your website can guide consumers in the shopping process and inspire them to keep interacting through scratch-off offer reveals and even help them get pre-approved. After all, shoppers today want to save time online and avoid talking to a salesperson as much as possible.


The more your mobile website can help online visitors with their shopping decisions and help to educate them, the more likely they are to visit your furniture store to make a purchase.


During this research phase, video is also very popular for those researching furniture who want to visualize different looks and styles. More than 13 million hours of home furnishing YouTube videos were watched in 2016. Videos paired with interactive experiences can be a great way to maximize consumer engagement on your mobile site.


Whether your goal is increased consumer engagement, capturing more buyers in the research phase, or maintaining an adequate SEO ranking, there is one common factor needed to achieve these objectives: having a website that is properly optimized for mobile and keeping up with the latest in marketing for furniture retailers. Don’t let your lack of a mobile presence hurt your furniture business.