An online furniture store is a great idea for anyone looking to have a shop online. The US furniture market is among the largest on the planet, being worth over $300 billion as of 2018. Starting an online store gives you not only access to a wide local and global clientele but also an opportunity to reduce the hefty initial costs that come with starting a business. You will not have to pay rent, power, wages, or any other utility bills; with inventory, a stable website and internet connection, and a computer. Here are some reliable steps to help you start your online furniture store.
Select an e-commerce website builder
Most ideas for starting a robust online store start when people sell a wardrobe or sofa on Craigslist or Etsy and realize that it was a great experience. However, these sites are not the best option for starting a long term professional-looking online furniture business. To build a store with a robust brand and professional appearance, a website builder is the way to go.
An e-commerce site builder is a service that lets you design and host a website with little coding and tech expertise. With these builders, you will have a great website in minutes and at a fraction of the cost that it would take to get a website designer. The best website builders include:
Shopify is a fantastic, user-friendly option that lets you build a great website with e-commerce functionality in a short time. It offers you seven free and endless premium themes, its own payment option (Shopify Payments) and an option to add other options, drag-and-drop site customization, and a wide array of site extension features. For e-commerce, Shopify will give you inventory control, shipping management, customer information, and analytics. You can try it for 14 days for free, after which you can pay $29/month for the Shopify Basic plan.
BigCommerce is your best bet if you want to go big from the beginning. Designing your site may be a bit taxing compared to Shopify, but this is because of the extra features that your site will have. The site editor has plenty of features from the beginning for you to take care of, such as tax rates and product variance. Its themes are also minimalist and professional. Like Shopify, you will pay $29 for the lowest plan, BigCommerce Standard.
- Wix e-commerce
Wix is another excellent site builder, supporting about 110 million live sites. It has excellent tools, site functionality and flexibility, and great templates. Opt for the $49/month Business plan for a website with e-commerce functionality, plus domain name costs.
Choose and pay up for a premium plan
Before you commit your funds, ensure that your site builder is an excellent match for your needs, is user-friendly, and meets your budget. Then sign up for a premium plan. Using the free options will make your site crawl with ads, which will not make for a professional appearance.
Select your site’s domain name
A domain name is your website’s address. It is also the best solution to make your site address easy to remember and more professional. These cost around $10 per year. Ensure you choose a website that is catchy, easy to remember, non-vulgar, short (less than 20 characters), and without any numbers or signs.
Select a website template and customize it
A site template is a basic appearance of what your site will look like once your clients type in your domain name on their browsers. The site builders listed above have a remarkable array of well-built templates, so take your time picking. They also let you preview your site’s appearance before you hit save. Your template should be:
- Mobile responsive: it should read well on desktop and mobile browsers, as most people nowadays shop online on their mobile devices
- Easy to customize: can you add images, text, color pallets, menus, widgets, headings, and slideshows readily?
- Appealing: In addition to looking professional, having a traditional looking and basic website may not impress your clients. Make your site look elegant with great slideshows, text, and lovely color pallets.
Upload your furniture images
You need to have some professionally taken photos of your inventory on your online store. Grainy and unclear will not work for online sales; your site visitors will quickly move to an online furniture store with better photos.
Write compelling descriptions
Unlike on brick and mortar store where you can persuade potential clients via speech, in online sales, your product description is the only way you can make clients buy your products. Your furniture description should be:
- Specific: include materials, weight, origin, colors, price, and all the things that a client will want to know before buying a piece of furniture
- Catchy: let your sales instinct kick in and make the description convincing with positive adjectives (e.g., unique, sophisticated, comfortable) and a call to action.
- Have a reasonable price: A price that is through the roof may not get you any clients, while one that is too low will tank your store. Aim to achieve a balance by offering value for money. A DIY job and brand new items cannot cost the same as second-hand items. You can also seek out other prices being charged by sites offering similar products.
Set up payment gateways
Your e-commerce site builder may have its own payment gateway, like Shopify Payments. It is important to add more payment options to make payment convenient for customers, such as Apple Pay, PayPal, Square, and Amazon Pay. Ensure that your e-commerce site builder is PCI compliant for the security of online payments.
Set up shipping
After you sell your products, you will need to deliver them safely to clients. Set up your shipping origin (which is where you will ship your items from), and destinations or shipping zones (locally or internationally) to determine your shipping costs and taxes. You also need to pick a reliable courier to ship your products.
Launch your store
With all the steps above handled, the next step is to test your site, then launch it. Make sure that the site works perfectly and is safe to use, then hit publish.
After your online furniture store goes live, you need to market it aggressively. Use social media, email marketing, and ask friends and family to recommend their friends.
Many people only sell furniture to declutter their home or get some more space. However, with the tips above and great business acumen, you can make a great living selling furniture online.