Like any other retail industry, the furniture retail industry is fast changing. If you run a furniture store, keeping up with these trends is crucial in remaining competitive and setting the right business strategies. These trends will demonstrate what your competitors are likely doing and what your customers will expect from you to keep coming. The hallmark of these trends is technology, convenience, and curation.
Demand for multi-functional furniture with built-in technology
Retailers all over the world are experiencing a surge in the demand for technology-enabled pieces of furniture that also serves more than one function. Such furniture includes sleep-tracking mattresses, beds with in-built charging stations, thermostats, and power recliners.
Technology is becoming more integrated into people’s lives, and many want to interact with their electronics in the comfort of their beds. These items often go for premium prices, but the middle class is both willing and able to pay for them. The cost of shipping these high-tech pieces is the same as non-tech enabled and less-expensive items. Moreover, as technology continues to advance, these clients will want to upgrade their furniture, which increases the chances of repeat purchases.
Cash and carry
Built to order is no longer working nowadays, mostly because of the long lead times associated with this business model. Millennials want to buy their items online and get them in a maximum of 48 hours. Furniture retailers, therefore, have to display the items they already have on hand or can be delivered within the shortest time possible. As mentioned earlier, if it is convenient, it is most likely trending in 2019.
Tech-savvy sales staff
Just like on online stores, clients visiting brick and mortar stores want to confirm the availability of a particular piece of furniture as quickly as possible. Today’s sales staff do not go to the back of the store to speak to the manager or to confirm from an inventory list. They simply refer to a tablet or computer with an updated inventory database and request price negotiations using the same devices. One popular application used in stores for inventory management, communication with staff across branches in other locations, and price list accession is Arcade.
The use of Augmented Reality
In addition to the primary function, today’s buyers also want to buy a piece that matches their interior décor or their sense of style. Today’s clients no longer have to rely on their imaginations only. If you have a furniture retail store, providing AR or 3D configuration is essential to help customers have a preview of your products in their own spaces. All they need to do is take a photo with their smartphone camera. Clients can use these tools either by themselves or with assistance from a sales representative. 3D configurators and AR are excellent sales tools today.
Digital brands are opening brick and mortar stores
Most of today’s native brands like Amazon, Glossier’s, and Warby Parker have extended their influence to the physical end. Real estate experts are predicting that by 2024, over 850 new brick and mortar stores will be opened by digital brands, with most of them being opened in New York. This trend is interesting, especially that many expect the reverse to be happening (traditional stores migrating to the digital storefront).
The use of AI has made it possible for clients to find a replica of what they want by taking a photo of it. AI will then pore through your inventory and return the exact product or similar items. An example of this feature is on Pinterest, where the Lens feature is used to locate similar pins visually. To use visual search, as a furniture retailer, you must upload excellent photos to your website to make your inventory easy to find for customers.
Pop-up shops use the concept of temporary retail storefronts. This interesting trend is used by shops that sell unique products. They leverage the social buzz generated from the unique items and excitement to get clients buying. In addition to making some quick cash, temporary storefronts help in generating customer data, create buzz on social networks, and remind people of your brand. Amazon is one of the sites that has used this trend.
The five trends above show an increased need for the integration of technology to help clients make better choices when it comes to buying furniture. Clients also want to get their furniture home as soon as possible, and clearly, the prices are not a hindrance. The effective furniture retailer will use this information to make the right logistical and technological changes to improve customer satisfaction.