Is selling furniture online profitable? Yes!
One of the most successful and perhaps unexpected retail areas to shift online is also one of the most traditional: furniture. In fact, selling furniture online is one of the most profitable areas in e-commerce. Surprised?
Here Postmedia Solutions breaks down why the furniture business was ripe for disruption, and how you can set yourself up for e-commerce success.
Why is selling furniture online profitable?
The North American furniture business is booming and growing. In 2019, the market was worth US$86.2 billion. It’s expected to grow at a rate of 5.3 per cent a year to 2026. There are a few key trends driving this ongoing strong demand.
The work-from-home experiment
The world is just emerging from more than a year-long shift to remote work caused by COVID-19 and the need to shelter in place. The success of this experiment is changing the way we work and where we work. A growing number of organizations are looking to make a more long-term shift to remote-work arrangements, which is helping to drive demand for “office” furniture.
For more information on how to adapt your business during COVID-19, refer to our guide.
The emergence of flexible work spaces
This shift was happening before the global pandemic changed how we live and work but has taken on a new urgency. Hoteling (a means of office management that facilitates workers sharing and dynamically scheduling their use of work spaces, such as desks, cubicles and offices), as well as the addition of collaborative work spaces and mobile components that allow people to move from one to the other, are on the rise.
A booming residential housing market
This is a result of two important trends: people moving out of high-density urban centres to more suburban and rural areas, and increasing construction of new residential buildings and homes.
A shift to sustainable furniture
Consumers are demanding that businesses reduce their environmental impact. Furniture makers are listening and developing furniture that is made from recycled and sustainable materials.
The rise of e-commerce
E-commerce isn’t just growing, it’s unstoppable. The pandemic added to an already increasing number of people purchasing goods and services online. Today, more than a quarter of the world’s population is shopping online. It’s a massive number and one that is driving online sales to hit ever higher peaks. Global e-commerce sales are set to record a new high of US$4.1 trillion in 2021. Furniture and furnishings are forecast to be the fastest growing segment of online sales for the next two years at least.
How to start an online furniture store
Emerging technologies and e-commerce channels, as well as advancements in warehousing and logistics, are making it easier than ever to start an online furniture business. To get started:
Take an iterative approach
Focus on a niche market, address any challenges and create an effective e-commerce site designed to convert visitors into buyers. Use lessons learned to grow your business.
Postmedia Solutions has identified eight best practices to convert clicks into purchases:
- Make conversion analysis part of your marketing strategy.
- Be clear about who you are and the value you bring.
- Build an email database and segment your email audience.
- Develop landing pages that link to and align with your pay-per-click AdWords campaigns.
- Build your credibility on social media.
- Turn your website into a great customer experience.
- Create a blog and post new content regularly.
- Leverage live chat.
To learn more about how to grow your online sales, refer to our guide which identifies the best practices to increase sales on your website.
If you want to be part of a larger marketplace, you can set up shop on a high-traffic e-commerce platform such as Shopify. Or, if you’re not ready to start your own e-commerce site, you can set yourself up as an online seller on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.
Understand your buyer
Are you selling high-quality, luxury home furnishings? Sustainable, modern office furniture? Who are your buyers? What are they looking for? Create research-based buyer personas for your ideal customers. These are fictionalized versions of your target shoppers that describe who they are, what they want, their challenges, interests and how they make decisions.
Create a digital marketing strategy
Use your buyer personas to personalize all your marketing and advertising campaigns. This is critical as 66 per cent of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. The buyer personas will also help you show up on the social channels your target buyers frequent. Invest in paid search and social advertising campaigns and expand your reach by linking with other sites through affiliate marketing partnerships.
Deliver an excellent online shopping experience
Use high-quality product images and video so people can feel as though they’re walking through a showroom. Showcase rooms, specific items and interior design themes. Make sure your site is easy to navigate, optimized for mobile users, and features testimonials and reviews from happy customers. Ensure the checkout process is easy to use and includes a variety of payment options.
Online furniture businesses are poised for growth as e-commerce becomes the preferred way to shop for consumers around the world. It’s not a question of if your furniture business can be profitable online, it’s how profitable.