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Understanding furniture shopping in 2014

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Furniture shopping is, for most people, an important decision-making process.With seemingly endless variety in design options at every conceivable price point and a virtual ocean of information, furniture shopping has never been more complex - and neither has furniture selling.

To understand modern furniture shopping, we will look at the 3 different phases shoppers move through on their path to purchase to and examine some of the challenges that today's furniture retailers have to content with.

The 3 phases are: Browsing, Researching and Purchasing

It starts with a dream
Furniture is rarely bought in a state of emergency, more often the process will begin while the consumer is indulging in nesting and home decorating dreams and becomes aware that they have a need for new furniture, and so they will start to browse around to see what is available on the market. The design and look of furniture is often perceived as a reflection of the owner’s personality, making furniture purchasing a highly personal and emotional matter.

Approximately 70% of shoppers use the internet for browsing, it is what they see during this phase that will be embedded in their minds and follow them through the rest of the process. It is very important for furniture retailers to be visible online, and make sure that what they show is attractive and elicits a desire to explore further. Furniture shoppers anno 2014 are fickle creatures; a furniture retailer has roughly 10-20 seconds to capture their imagination or they will abandon the site with a single click. Sink a hook into them quickly, and you significantly increase the likelihood of them staying on your site to explore further.

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The modern path to purchase is far from a straight line and if you thought the internet made things easier you are dead wrong. Half of all shoppers use 3 or more channels while shopping, which means that retailers have to deal with numerous consumer touch-points, making sure the experience is consistent across all of them is a massive challenge and ads to the complexity of being a modern furniture retailer.

An American survey showed that 41% of consumers felt overwhelmed by the amount of choice given to them when they are shopping for furniture. It takes time to sift through all the information, which has caused the average decision making time to jump nearly 100% in the last 10 years; from 5,2 days in 2002 to 10,3 days in 2012. That is a mighty long time to keep the shopper engaged.

Research and design
Once the dreams start to take on a more concrete form, the shopper will start to research options that are more specific, such as available colors, dimension and the like. The internet also plays a large role during this phase, upwards 80% of shoppers will check and compare product information online. Incorporating smart tools on the website such as Cylindo’s Room Planner, will ensure that shoppers can have all of their questions answered, even some that can’t be answered in a store like “will the furniture fit in my living room?” or “what will this sofa look like together with this rug and this table?”

Engage shoppers during this phase by helping them to really understand what they can have, this will increase their emotional investment in the process and they will start to feel a sense of ownership, making them much less likely to abandon your website in search of alternatives.

Purchasing
When it comes to making the final purchasing decision, most shoppers still want to see and touch the furniture for themselves before they commit to buying it, which is why nearly 90% of actual conversion from shopper to buyer takes place in a brick & mortar store.

The challenge here is to deliver a cohesive experience to your customers when they move from the online process and into the store; they should experience the transfer as a seamless flow. One way to do this is to have the Cylindo Room Planner accessible in-store, allowing customers to log in to their profile and pull up the design they have been working on. Now they can see their design on the screen and the real furniture on the shop floor, they can make adjustments to perfect the design and feel confident that the final design will result in a beautiful and enjoyable home.

Furniture retail in 2014 is complex, it involves multiple channels and deals with shoppers who have little if any brand loyalty, they are tech savvy and meticulous in their pursuit of the best outcome. It is not possible to push products like earlier, instead retailers must pull shoppers towards them by being interesting, innovative and have a good understanding of what a shopper’s path to purchase really looks like.

At Cylindo we bring the future to the furniture industry through the fusion of 3D technology and a deep understanding of what moves the modern consumer. For more information please contact hello@cylindo.com

Customized furniture is increasingly popular

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Lisbet Hansen

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