Furniture retail has previously been a very offline affair, but more and more retailers are taking advantage of the many digital tools available to them. This evolution makes perfect sense considering upwards 80% of consumers research furniture online prior to purchasing. Attracting and retaining consumers’ attention via websites has a significant impact on in-store sales, it is therefore more important than ever to deliver engaging online experiences.
Because online behavior is best described as skittish, it’s a struggle to keep consumers’ attention for any amount of time. When shopping in the physical world it takes a bit of effort to leave a store and go visit another one, that is not the case online, with one single click the customer is gone and can literally be shopping at any other store in seconds.
This makes capturing and retaining consumer attention on websites one of the biggest challenges for any retailer. You have to get the consumer emotionally invested, so they move from merely looking at merchandise, to imagining what their home would look like. When they start dreaming about all the great times they are going to have around the new dining table, and the lovely lazy evenings watching movies with a loved one from the new sofa, that is when they will be staying on your site to gather all the information they need to make the vision come true. The longer they stay the more committed they become to shopping at your store.
How do you make your site sticky?
A great tool to increase site stickiness is incorporating a Room Planner on your website. These digital interior design tools help consumers visualize their dreams by allowing them to design and furnish a virtual representation of their home. Room Planners have shown to increase online session time by several hundred percent and they are a great way to connect the online and physical experience, as many consumers choose to sit at home and design everything, then carry their design to the store for visual and tactile confirmation. This often results in consumers purchasing more items, as they have already seen what the sofa will look like together with the rug and the table, and so they tend to purchase the entire setting instead of only the sofa. In addition it saves the sales associate a lot of work in store, since customers have already educated themselves to the point that the only thing missing is confirming they have made the right choice.
So incorporating a Room Planner is a great way to increase both consumer engagement and ticket size, the snag is that all Room Planners are not created equal. Here is a list of 10 elements that you should look for when considering a Room Planner for your website.
1 Visual quality
Nothing will put a damper on a new design like poor visual quality. A Room Planner that does not make designs look stunning is just not going to capture the attention of anyone for very long. Some Room Planners will only display designs as two dimensional black & white outlined shapes, while this is likely sufficient if all that is needed is a size check, it does ask a lot of the consumer in terms of visualizing what their design will actually look like. Many retailers who have opted for this type of Room Planner have reported little to no measurable impact from having it.
2 Logical flow
Very few people get to design rooms on a regular basis, so the chance of repeated use of a Room Planner is slim. This makes the logical flow of the user interface incredibly important, as few things can make a consumer abandon a design quicker than not being able to figure out how to maneuver the program, and since they will have to understand the program the first time they use it, having a super logical flow is paramount to success. So always test a Room Planner yourself and have other colleagues test it, before you decide which one to go with.
3 Ecommerce integration
Although the vast majority of furniture is purchased through a physical store, there should be nothing hindering people from purchasing through the website if that is what tickles their fancy. Obstructing the path to the check-out is simply illogical, it should be as easy as possible. Being able to add items to cart directly from within the Room Planner turns a mainly inspirational tool into a sales tool.
4 Dynamic pricing
Budgets are part of most people’s reality, and keeping check of the total cost while designing can prevent a project going from realistic to “when-pigs-fly”. Once customers get in to the “flying pigs” zone, chances are the design will never be realized, it will remain a crazy lovely dream, but it will not be a sale for you. So choose a Room Planner that display prices, both on individual items and the entire design.
5 Easily maintainable CMS
On the back-end side of the Room Planner, you want to make sure it is easy to change out products and update styles and prices. If it is a drawn out process you will likely not be able to continually have the latest styles featured, which could translate into lost sales opportunities.
6 Your furniture vs. symbols
Some Room Planners will only feature standard symbols, and not a representation of your actual furniture. While these Room Planners are very economical, they serve little purpose when you are trying to sell your furniture - unless your furniture matches standard symbols of course. Be sure to choose a provider that can create exact representations of your furniture, preferably in fully functional 3D so customers can turn the products and view them from every angle.
7 Both software and content
Choose a provider that can deliver both the software platform, i.e. the actual Room Planner itself, and also the 3D content. It quickly becomes complicated when multiple vendors are involved, and should issues arise the frustration of having to communicate with several vendors, is a headache you might as well save yourself from. There are also often considerable cost savings from dealing with a single vendor.
8 Social sharing
We live in a social world and online sharing is part of what we do every day. Giving customers the option to share their designs with their online peers makes perfect sense; it’s a great way to get your products out there and many studies show that peer-to-peer interaction and recommendations are very powerful marketing tools. Some Room Planner providers even offer a branded online community, where your customers can interact with each other and share design tips and ideas.
9 Ability to save
This might sound logical, but not all Room Planners allow users to save their designs. By creating accounts and saving designs, you get valuable information on your customers and they get the opportunity to log in anywhere and work on their designs. Saving designs makes your site even more sticky, since design projects can stretch over many days, and often involve talking to several people and perhaps visiting your store multiple times.
10 In-store use
Room Planners are typically used by someone with a pc from their home, but why not have the Room Planner available to customers while in store? You could equip your staff with iPads so they could walk the store with customers and design on the go. Or perhaps incorporate large touchscreens in-store and give customers a real wow-experience. Choose a provider that will not limit you to a single device or method of using the Room Planner, innovative retail is all about leveraging the power of technology in-store.
There are two things that are crucially important for retailers in today’s super connected market; first is to really understand your customers and second is the ability to engage them. Clever tools like Room Planners offer a great way to learn more about your market and it is a tremendously powerful way to engage your customers and increase their emotional investment with your company, which undoubtedly will lead to greater conversion and more sales.
Cylindo is dedicated to serving the digital visualization needs of the furniture industry. To learn more about our products please visit www.cylindo.com/software and specifically about our Room Planner visit www.cylindo.com/software/room-planner to contact us directly please email firstname.lastname@example.org