If you sell furniture online, or have plans to start selling furniture online, you have probably thought a great deal about how to do it successfully.
Selling furniture online is not easy. Some retailers report scary return rates in the double digits. Enough to make the most forward thinking retailer press pause and give this new channel a little extra thought.
But there is no way around it - online shopping is here stay and the furniture industry will have to join the movement. It is what customers demand. And the demand will only grow with time. So learn to do ecommerce right from the start and save yourself a whole lot of headaches… and money.
Furniture retailers can’t show fabric options
A common pain many furniture retailers experience, is the inability to show customers the many fabric options that a lot of furniture is available in.
In-store you can show actual fabric samples that are large enough to allow the customer to imagine what the sofa would look like. It is not quite the same as seeing the sofa in the desired fabric, but it is often sufficient to persuade the customer to make a decision.
Online the problem is much worse. Fabric options are sometimes displayed as thumbnail swatches. While this is helpful it is rarely sufficient to make customers feel comfortable enough to make a purchase decision. Most customers need to see the fabric applied to the product in order to really understand what it looks like. Seeing the product in the selected option reassures customers that they are going to be happy with their purchase.
Taking pictures of all fabrics applied to all sofa models is an option, albeit a very expensive and time consuming option. It is also very difficult to keep the fabrics updated; you would have to arrange a new photoshoot every time a new fabric design becomes available. This is not feasible for the majority of retailers.
The result is missed sales because the customer wasn’t able to understand what the desired fabric would look like applied to a particular sofa model.
People shop with their eyes
Images are the most important element on a website when communicating your products to customers. They provide additional information that product descriptions are not able to convey and they give customers a clear sense of the product.
Online customers are left with only one sense to rely on - sight. So it is not surprising that what you show them has a tremendous impact on their decision making.
Large images of good quality are essential. To communicate the product effectively, there should be two types of images available. Images that are clear of any kind of clutter, they should only depict the product itself, and images that show the product in context, such as showing the sofa in a living room.
Having both will give customers the best understanding of the product itself and also give a sense of dimension, which can be very challenging to convey online.
Details are important for most furniture. Be it, the texture of the fabric, the hobnails used, the wood finish or some other element that makes the furniture unique and alluring. Showing these details are also essential, both to making the sale in the first place, but also to avoid returned items due to customers not having been aware of the details.
For this purpose you need a high quality zoom. Don’t for a second think it is enough to have a mouse-over that zooms 20%. You need to zoom at least 50%, preferably more. You have to be able to see the texture of the fabric.
The third critical element to successful online furniture display is showing customers products from all angles. The more angles the better - customers will always want to see the one angle you chose not to show, so the more the better.
It is asking a lot of people to place an order, for what most people consider to be a fairly expensive purchase, when all they have seen is the front of the product. Showing the angles confirms the armrests or the corners have the shape that is expected, and gives a sense that what you see is what you get - which is essentially the main purpose in the first place - to make sure that customers trust what they see, because no one is interested in unpleasant surprises when the delivery truck arrives.
Furniture display software can deliver all of the above
Furniture display software using computer generated images (CGI) is becoming furniture retailers’ new best friend. It affords a level of freedom to display precisely what you need, that has never been possible before. Something the big guys are already taking notice of and using. Just think of IKEA whose popular catalogue is filled with 75% CGI images!
This type of furniture display software has evolved rapidly the last few years, it is becoming both more affordable and so sharp you cannot detect the images are not photographs.
When you create a digital version of your furniture, you can angle it any way you want to, you can even spin it around if that is what you want to. You can also apply fabrics to the digital furniture frame, which means the furniture does not have to exist in real life in that particular fabric. This can save you a lot of money, because you can show versions without having to produce them first. And you never have to resort to a “no image available” on your website!
CGI can also produce some pretty amazing results when it comes to zoom functionality. The rendering techniques that are available are so sophisticated you can zoom in close enough to be virtually rubbing your nose in the fabric. This is what is required for customers to fully understand the furniture they are looking to purchase.
As online continues to play a bigger role in furniture retail, more attention must be given to the online experience. Retailers that master this channel have a significant advantage.
Using furniture display software that enhance the customer experience is a strategic opportunity for furniture retailers. One that can help deliver a cohesive multi-channel shopping experience, increase sales and reduce return rates.
For more information on improving your online furniture display, you can check out the 360 HD Viewer or feel free to contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org, I will be delighted to help you assess how you can achieve better conversion rates and lower return rates with CGI furniture display software.