Ecommerce Must-Haves: Furniture Stores
Furniture used to be something you had to trek to multiple showrooms on a weekend to buy. Thanks to ecommerce and the wonders of logistics, you can order a sofa or even a mattress online shipped right to your door.
Visitors are getting more and more used to making these large purchases online, but they have come to expect certain “must haves” when they shop. This article will walk through a few of those necessary features and information that customers expect to see when shopping for furniture online. These include things like:
- Search functionality
- Materials information and care instructions
- Lifestyle photos
- And more!
Photos in Context
Furniture is not only meant to be used, but it’s also a key design feature of any room. People buying furniture are going to want to envision the piece in their space. They can do this more easily if you are able to provide them with photos of the furniture in different spaces. Bonus points if you can provide a video of the item in a space.
By space we mean showing a living room or office reception area, or showcasing a large chandelier in a home or in a hotel. Consider who your typical buyer is (consumer or B2B or a mix) and what spaces would be most relevant to them.
If you’re looking to really stand out and go the extra mile for your customers, consider a visualizer feature. These augmented reality tools allow visitors to take a 3D rendering of the furniture and project it into their space with their phones. When it comes to visualizing whether a piece will look good in a room, AR is going to be the best way to do this.
Big brands like Ikea, Target and Apt2B feature AR tools. But these tools are not out of reach for small and medium-sized ecommerce stores.
Robust, Relevant Search
Search functions on any site need to return relevant results fast. But for furniture stores this performance is highly expected from customers. Many are coming to your store with some ideas in mind and might even know exactly the item they want. Rather than browsing the entire collection of sofas, they want to search for a white modern sofa or Blu Dot chair.
Not only must the search results be relevant, the images of those products should match what visitors searched for. Visitors will be confused if they search for a white sofa, but see a results page featuring images of non-white couches. Even if those sofas offer white as a color option, not seeing the white sofa as the main image will cause frustration.
It may seem like a no-brainer to provide measurements for all pieces of furniture on your site, but you’d be surprised at how many stores don’t always provide this data. Consider the location of your customers, should you provide measurements in both feet/inches and centimeters/meters?
You can go a step further and provide images of the product with measurements. Take a look at Lumens, well known for their lighting fixtures.
Each lighting product has a diagram featuring measurements, as well as a model and table in the diagram for reference.
As much as you can, make it easy for your visitor to understand the size of the item. This is important not only for figuring out if it will look right in a space, but for practical issues like getting a sofa through a door or in an elevator.
Customer Reviews & Photos
Furniture can be a major purchase for many apartment dwellers and homeowners. This expense can mean more doubts and uncertainties one must overcome before feeling confident enough to buy.
To help visitors overcome these doubts, you should provide them with customer reviews, photos, and videos. This will help visitors understand what others like or dislike about a product, as well as provide social proof to show that others like the product too. Customer photos will add additional reference images to see how the product looks in “real life” as opposed to highly staged manufacturer photos.
Customer videos can also be very helpful to visitors who are on the edge about whether or not to purchase. But it’s important when instituting the reviews feature and allowing for photos and videos that you have someone moderating these to ensure quality, relevant content.
Materials and Care
Customers are increasingly interested in every aspect of the products they purchase, and for good reason. When buying a pricey item like a sofa, you want to be certain that you’re buying something of high quality. A product that looks like wood may in fact be laminate or particle board.
Be sure your product description and specifications mention the materials in the product, and be clear about which materials describe which parts of the product. Not only that, if there is fabric make sure to mention the care required to upkeep the appearance.
Shipping & Returns
Furniture is often going to be quite a large item to ship. Visitors are rightly concerned about the cost of shipping. Clearly mention if a product has a shipping cost or free shipping on the product page. It’s also a good idea to repeat this in the cart, in case visitors missed it.
Someone might feel confident purchasing an $800 couch, but then change their mind upon seeing a $75 shipping charge in the checkout.
Not only is shipping information important, so is return information. Because visitors can’t touch the product in person, they might hesitate buying it online. Having a clear return policy will help them understand if they can easily return an item and the costs involved.
Make sure this policy is mentioned throughout the site including the product and cart pages. Even if you must charge a return-shipping cost, make it very clear. Although you could get the sale by neglecting to mention this, it’s not only unethical, it is also going to lead to negative word of mouth for disappointed customers trying to return furniture.
Customer Support Access
Lastly, your site should offer customer support access. Whether you want to do this via chat or phone is up to you, but it should be quick for someone to reach your team during weekdays. A question via email may take too long for a customer to wait, and they might switch to a competitor in the meantime.
Customer support contact information and availability should be clearly repeated across the site. Even if visitors aren’t going to contact you, this information has the added benefit of showing that you have a team available to help the customer if they need it.
This isn’t an extensive list of everything a furniture store must have, but we covered important features customers expect to see. Even if you’re not a furniture ecommerce owner, consider which of these features could work well for your store. Things like lifestyle photos and care information can be important for many other products like apparel.