The Canadian furniture industry is on the rise. According to IBIS World, the furniture retailing industry in Canada, measured by revenue, will be $12.4 billion in 2021. The market size is expected to increase by 17.1% in 2021.
The pandemic has brought significant challenges, but it has also fueled e-commerce, forcing furniture players to prioritize digital transformation and create engaging online shopping experiences.
The impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian furniture industry
Switching from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping at the onset of the pandemic has significantly impacted the Canadian retail industry. Due to the closure of physical stores, 82% of Canadians shopped online in 2020, which was a substantial increase from the 74% that shopped online in 2018, as reported by Statistics Canada.
One of the many industries not immune to the effects of COVID-19 was the furniture industry. The pandemic has rewritten the furniture retail playbook.
At the beginning of 2020, in-store sales started decreasing in favor of online sales. Canadian home furnishing and furniture e-commerce sales experienced a 191% increase from February to April 2020. As a comparison, in-store sales of furniture and home furnishings decreased by 70% in the same timeframe, as reported by Statistics Canada.
“COVID-19 has definitely accelerated a shift toward a more digital world for the furniture industry. Consumers’ willingness to purchase online and overall shopping behaviors have changed and should have a lasting effect. Consumers are much more comfortable making large furniture purchases online without seeing the product in person.” — Parker Stewart, General Manager at Monte Design
The pandemic urged customers to pivot and adopt new habits. Online shopping was accelerated by the lockdowns, but it has slowly transformed into a behavioral shift — even for big-ticket items.
And while many businesses wondered whether these changes would be short-lived or permanent, we can see that the changes are sticking. Once customers witnessed the ease and convenience of online shopping, there was no going back.
“Before COVID-19, furniture purchasing was very much an experiential sale. To buy furniture, customers preferred to go to a brick-and-mortar store, feel and touch the product, roll around, and decide if it was the right product for them. Now customers expect to be immersed in furniture all online and never have to leave the comfort of their homes. The experience that used to happen in person now needs to happen efficiently online. This trend has happened across multiple industries already (e.g., movie theaters, sporting events), where online experiences trump in-person experiences due to ease and comfort.” — Rozin Abbas, Co-Founder of Roo & You
The furniture industry experienced significant transformations even before the pandemic. However, today, creating an engaging online shopping experience is not an option. It's a must.
"COVID-19 brought a mass adoption of technology and e-commerce when it comes to shopping furniture. This means that even the customers that were the most likely to avoid shopping online had to do it if they wanted to get new furniture in their homes. Customers now mainly shopping online for furniture means that companies have to innovate to bring the effect of an attractive showroom and a good sales team to a website. The great digital experience is the new showroom and sales team." — Félix Robitaille, Director of Marketing at Cozey
E-commerce merchandising is more important than ever
Consumers’ shift to digital has accelerated dramatically. The furniture e-commerce boom increased the need for a seamless online shopping experience.
This begs the question: how can furniture businesses reinvent themselves to seize the opportunity?
The short answer: The website experience is everything. Get it right.
“The website experience for furniture businesses will evolve in a way that will digitally bring proximity and immersion with the product and the staff. The goal is to recreate a great and innovative showroom experience in a website by leveraging new technologies.” — Félix Robitaille, Director of Marketing at Cozey
The pandemic was a resilience test that forced furniture companies to think about the future of their businesses. Forward-thinking players realized that creating an engaging website experience will help them set the groundwork for future growth.
“Website experiences should constantly be evolving and changing at a faster pace than ever before. Businesses will try new experiences or layouts to help the customer in the decision-making process. It could be new technology, more/quicker customer service experiences, or new ways of displaying information that is more digestible.” — Parker Stewart, General Manager at Monte Design
As more tech-savvy furniture players enter the market, customers’ expectations are climbing even higher. Furniture businesses are looking to leverage digital technologies to drive new levels of customer engagement and competitive advantage. One area that holds particular promise is augmented reality.
“The furniture business is quite idyllic, especially with on-site media such as photos. This is already starting to take a back seat to immersive experiences where consumers can see furniture in their homes immediately. As time goes on, I truly believe the first interactions people will have with furniture businesses will be ones prompting them to experience products in their homes. As the technology evolves and is more seamless and higher quality (e.g., improved modeling in augmented reality [AR]), consumers will expect to see products in their homes through AR. And AR is only the beginning, as virtual reality has grown exponentially since the onset of the pandemic.” — Rozin Abbas, Co-Founder of Roo & You
Product page analysis of the top 10 Canadian furniture players
The businesses that were best prepared for the pandemic were the ones that had an infrastructure in place to handle e-commerce. To help you understand the features that make top furniture players stand out from the competition, we analyzed the product pages of ten leading Canadian furniture businesses.
The analysis is based on 18 key drivers of success, including: product customization, HD zoom, 360 views, alternate angles, detail shots, lifestyle imagery, augmented reality, videos, reviews, recommendations, page load speed, mobile optimization, virtual consultation, social media, checkout experience, product information detail, filtering options, and product visuals quality.
Aside from the 18 key drivers of success, we highlight additional features that help these furniture players create an engaging online experience.
This analysis is not indicative of the operational performance of the furniture businesses. Rather, it provides data and benchmarks which enable us to draw certain conclusions about the importance of different e-commerce merchandising features in furniture businesses’ success. Without further ado, let’s dive into those features.
1. EQ3 — Augmented Reality
EQ3 is one of the leading furniture retailers in Canada, founded on the premise of delivering modern, thoughtful design and refined furniture through an outstanding customer shopping experience.
The retailer offers a complete online shopping experience on its product pages — from 360-degree views of the products accompanied by 4K HD zoom, through room scenes and product videos, to product customization and recommendations, EQ3 has it all.
Aside from the rich product page experience, EQ3 offers augmented reality. The AR feature on EQ3’s website allows customers to preview furniture in real time in their homes.
“Augmented reality finds a valuable use case in the furniture industry. We have seen in customer surveys that AR is referenced as a common reason for purchase completion.” — Dan Gange, Director of E-Commerce at EQ3
EQ3 increased AR adoption among shoppers by updating the desktop product page experience featuring a QR code that pops up when customers click the “View in AR” button.
Thanks to this hack, they can seamlessly transfer shoppers from desktop to mobile and unleash the power of web-AR.
EQ3 determined that a shopper who uses AR has a 112% higher conversion compared to someone who doesn't use AR. They also found out that AR users have two times higher average order value (AOV).
“Customers are more serious when they are purchasing on a desktop as opposed to their phones. So when we see the QR code on the desktop, we're also exposing AR to people that are much closer to the purchase. Whereas, with the phones, customers are probably in the browsing and experimenting phase, compared to that purchasing phase. Augmented reality is more important later down the funnel.” — Dan Gange, Director of E-Commerce at EQ3
Index Rating: 93.5
According to our furniture retailers index rating, EQ3 has the highest score of 93.5. EQ3 has an impeccable product page shopping experience. The 360-degree viewer, product configurator, and AR are the three most essential features differentiating them from the competitors.
2. Monte — 360-Degree Spin and 4K Zoom
Monte Design is a family-owned Canadian brand that’s been manufacturing luxury furniture for both adults and children since 2006. Recognizable for their ultra-modern take on classic pieces like rocking chairs and baby cradles and more than dozens of customization options, Monte Design is setting new standards for what family-friendly design should look and feel like.
Monte’s product pages offer engaging online shopping experiences for customers. Their most appealing website feature is the 360-degree viewer of the furniture products. By implementing a 360 viewer, Monte enables its customers to spin the products and examine them from different angles before purchasing.
“Having the image is one thing; but then to be able to spin it, zoom into it, and really get in there … that’s fantastic!” — Ralph Montemurro, President of Monte Design
This 360-degree viewer is accompanied by a 4K zoom feature that allows customers to zoom in on the products and see a close-up of the product’s fabrics. The zoom option gives customers assurance about the product’s material and the exact color they would get. Implementing a 360-degree viewer on its product pages brought Monte a 50% boost in average time on page and increased buyer confidence.
The overall shopping experience on Monte’s website is clean and pleasant. The focus is on high-quality visuals and precise product information.
“Our website will always have the most up-to-date product information, along with extremely accurate and detailed images. We never want any clutter on our site — keeping it clean, simple, engaging, and inspirational is a priority.” — Ralph Montemurro, President at Monte Design
Index Rating: 87
According to our e-commerce merchandising index, Monte Design has a score of 87 points. The rich product page experience is supported by 360-degree views, product customization, AR, lifestyle imagery, reviews, recommendations, and impeccable product visuals.
3. Article — Rooms and Bundles
Article is a Canadian DTC brand launched in 2013 with the idea to create modern spaces for customers. They have built up an engaging website equipped with high-quality visuals, a zoom-in feature, and a product configurator that lets customers choose from various fabrics and colors for each product.
One of the strongest weapons for Article is in-context imagery. Customers can browse furniture by choosing specific rooms, such as: living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, home offices, or outdoor spaces.
Once they select a category, Article provides lifestyle images with shoppable product tags. Customers can click on each product and see more information and product price.
Article also offers product bundles, combining two or more products for the same room setting, selling them at a discounted price. This is a great tactic to sell several products together and increase AOV.
Index Rating: 86
According to our e-commerce merchandising index, Article has 86 points. The overall shopping experience is clean and straightforward. Adding 360-degree views on its product pages and offering augmented reality would help Article enrich the website experience and boost sales.
4. Cozey - Product Customization
Founded in 2019, the Canadian DTC brand, Cozey, offers an innovative solution: a sofa that comes in multiple boxes to fit through any door.
Once you open one of Cozey’s product pages, you will get a 360-degree view of the selected product on the left. Customers can scrutinize the product details and fabric by using the zoom-in feature and rotating the product to see it from different angles.
On the right side of Cozey’s product page, there is a product configurator. Customers can select color, fabric, seating configuration, arm design, and other product details. Using the configurator, customers can visualize how a product looks in the specific configuration.
Aside from product customization, customers can also use augmented reality to see how products look in their space. Even though it has an engaging website with self-service features, Cozey pays special attention to customer support.
“Quick access to human support makes the experience engaging, as people can have a real discussion with our customer happiness team about any questions or concerns. Simplicity through the website and a clear product page make everything easy for users browsing on cozey.ca. Augmented reality is a great feature to make our customers understand and visualize the size of sofas and the modularity of the products.” — Félix Robitaille, Director of Marketing at Cozey
Index Rating: 79.5
Results from our research show that Cozey has a high e-commerce merchandising index rating of 79.5 points. The overall shopping experience on Cozey’s website is pleasant, straightforward, and rich with engaging features such as 360 views, a product configurator, and augmented reality. All these elements create a seamless customer experience and ease the decision-making process.
5. Roo & You - Ratings and Reviews
Roo & You is a family-owned Canadian DTC brand dedicated to creating fun, design-forward products.
Every aspect of Roo & You revolves around the customer. As a result, the website experience is seamless and packed with detailed product information and high-quality visuals.
“The two most important facets we focus on with our site design are minimizing click fatigue while increasing overall knowledge, which helps decrease customer support load and overall consumer fatigue. As the furniture business tends to have a lot of options, potential and current customers can hit fatigue quickly by clicking between the plethora of options, which then results in an increased customer support load for information that tends to be readily available. For example, we prefer to make a different type of fabric a separate product entirely, with detailed information on the fabric itself and its features. That means customers know what they're getting into before they click, and if they do click, information regarding a specific fabric is a drop-down menu away.” — Rozin Abbas, Co-Founder of Roo & You
Aware of the fact that customers are constantly looking for unbiased feedback to help them decide whether they should buy a product, Roo & You puts product reviews front and center.
Customers can read reviews and filter them by most recent, most helpful, lowest rated, highest rated, oldest, or reviews with images. The shared personal experiences of previous customers help new shoppers make better purchasing decisions.
Index Rating: 77.5
According to our e-commerce merchandising index, Roo & You has 77.5 points. Engaging website features such as product customization, 360-degree views, and 4K zoom enrich the online shopping experience and increase customer confidence.
6. Structube — Virtual Store
Structube is a Canadian furniture retailer of contemporary and modern home furniture and accessories.
The website offers customers a good shopping experience with a product customization feature, high-quality product images, and a zoom-in option.
Structube has a virtual store where customers can browse through products displayed just like in a physical shop. Visitors can easily click on the displayed products and get a pop-up with all the information about the selected furniture piece. The pop-up lets shoppers customize the product, view its details, and add it to their cart. The virtual store helps Structube engage customers and recreate a brick-and-mortar experience.
Index Rating: 69
Structube has an e-commerce merchandising index rating of 69 points. The product page experience abounds with valuable features that ease the customers’ purchasing process. Adding features such as 360-degree viewer, 4K zoom, augmented reality, and virtual consultations would contribute to an even better online shopping experience.
7. Mobilia — Design/Create Your Space
Mobilia is a Canadian furniture retailer founded in 1966. The team is passionate about quality and style, and they pride themselves on offering an exceptional range of new and exciting home furnishings.
One specific feature Mobilia offers is their “Design” tool that lets shoppers create a room according to their preferences.
Customers can personalize the room by adjusting its width and height and choosing wall and floor colors. Next, they can search for products by category, add them to their space, and move, arrange, and adapt to their budget. The Design tool also lets customers save their design, share it with friends, and add the products to their shopping carts.
Index Rating: 64
According to our e-commerce merchandising index, Mobilia has a score of 64 points. The retailer offers product customization, alternate angle images, and detail shots to help customers get a better understanding of the product. However, implementing additional features such as a 360-degree viewer, 4K zoom, and AR would create a more engaging online shopping experience.
8. Urban Barn — Find Your Fit
Urban Barn is a Canadian furniture retailer that started its business 30 years ago, offering high-quality and stylish home furnishings at an affordable price.
When you enter the product detail page, you can see alternate angle images of the product, a zoom-in option, and a product configurator. Below the fold, Urban Barn provides its customers with product specifications, warranty information, shipping and returns, customer reviews, and product recommendations.
One feature that separates Urban Barn from other furniture players is its “Find Your Fit” tool. Using this advanced filtering tool, customers can narrow the selection by size, color, and price to find the right product for their home.
Index Rating: 56
Results from our research show that Urban Barn has an e-commerce merchandising index score of 56 points. The retailer has a pleasant online shopping experience supported by alternate angle product visuals and lifestyle imagery. Adding features such as a 360-degree viewer, 4K zoom, and AR would enrich the overall online shopping experience.
9. CouchHaus — Build My Couch
CouchHaus is a DTC brand from Vancouver that designs mid-century modern furniture products at affordable prices.
The CouchHaus product pages are equipped with alternate angle images, detail shots, and a product configurator that enables customers to choose a product color. Below the fold, customers can read product descriptions and see product recommendations of related products.
One feature that separates CouchHaus from its competitors is the “Build My Couch“ tool. The CouchHaus design builder lets customers create their couch in 15 steps by choosing what they prefer from the pre-given options.
Shoppers can choose from four types of couch styles and pick one of the eight offered configurations. The next step requires them to choose a fabric for the couch or customize their own. They can also select the couch color, fill (foam, feather, or both), length, and depth.
Index Rating: 44.5
According to our e-commerce merchandising index, the rating for CouchHaus is 44.5 points. The product pages are rich with features that create a seamless shopping experience. There is room for improvement with the implementation of a 360-degree viewer, 4K zoom, AR, and lifestyle imagery. All these features would help customers visualize how a product looks and boost conversions.
10. Elte — Alternate Angles
Elte is a Canadian furniture retailer that works closely with designers and craftspeople all over the world to curate the best designs for home, from timeless pieces to the most distinctive creations.
On the product page, customers can see product images from different angles. Alternate angle images can help buyers get a better sense of how products look from different perspectives. On the right side, there are product descriptions, measurements, as well as availability and delivery information.
Index Rating: 31.5
Elte has an e-commerce merchandising index rating of 31.5 points. The website experience is clean and straightforward. Adding engaging features such as a 360-degree viewer, 4K zoom, and product customization, as well as user-centric features such as reviews and recommendations, would help Elte improve the overall shopping experience.
And there you have it — a product page analysis of ten leading Canadian furniture players. Taking a page from a successful furniture company’s playbook can help you enhance your e-commerce website experience.
Interested in finding out how you can use 3D product visualization to redefine furniture shopping?