Realigning customer orientation?

Why furniture retail and e-commerce go together much better than you think

If you buy a sofa, you have to try it out. The size of wall shelves can only be estimated by standing next to them. And the quality of home textiles can only be judged if you can pick them up and touch them. Anyone who works in the furniture and interior design market knows these beliefs only too well. They are incredibly deeply rooted and you might think that there is no way around them. I see it differently. With the right measures and the right expertise, e-commerce also works in the furniture trade – and much better than one would assume at first glance.  

Nov 03 2021

Customer success can also be achieved online

Let's take the example of the corner sofa again: test sitting is of course a valid and important step in the customer's decision-making and purchasing process. But there are now other methods that can replace these common tests and ultimately lead to at least as much customer satisfaction.

Professional product videos, for example, show how the piece of furniture behaves when a person sits down on it – even with a swing. A video sequence also makes it easier to show the assembly process. When it comes to fabric quality, the uncomplicated sending of material samples can offer the same service as the fabric flaps in the furniture store.  

What is important here, however, is that customer orientation and service thinking must be rethought from the ground up if they want to make the leap from analogue to digital. Simply digitising individual elements will not work. In concrete terms, this means that a brochure or an information sheet in pdf form is digital per se, but it is completely out of touch with the customers' usage behaviour.

Furniture, to name just one example among many, is no longer bought only in the big furniture store, but increasingly also on the go (at least selected) - anyone who has ever tried to read a pdf on a mobile phone knows that this is not very practical. Mobile-optimised pages and the aforementioned digital (moving) content that presents information clearly and comprehensibly lead to much higher customer satisfaction.

If you get it right, you can achieve at least the same level of service online as customers are used to in bricks-and-mortar retail. And with the right push marketing approaches, the content can also be placed everywhere where customers like to get inspiration, i.e. from Pinterest to Instagram to the big platforms and websites like 

Great market potential 

So customers can be just as well looked after online. That's why we go a step further to the question of the market: without a doubt, the biggest difference here is between online and stationary. In stationary trade there are structures that are established and have grown over decades. They certainly have their justification, but they are not without alternative.

According to figures from Statista, the furniture e-commerce market in Germany is expected to have a volume of around 8.9 billion euros in 2024. The fear that there is a threat of a loss of reliable sales channels outside the established structures is unjustified, because the pool of potential customers has grown enormously. Nevertheless, the number of (global) competitors has also increased.  

E-commerce expertise is elementary 

The potentials are undeniably large and offer certain retailers a good alternative to sales via established stationary structures. For others, there is no alternative to e-commerce in the long run because stationary trade is no longer up to date for some product groups and is a discontinued model. Ultimately, however, it is also the case that greater responsibilities arise from independence from associations and organised structures.

Those who underestimate the e-commerce dynamics and have not internalised the platform logic will have a hard time and face major problems despite good products. In addition, other areas of the company must also follow the changeover to e-commerce: The right people must be approached in the hiring process so that, for example, the right steps are taken on the technology side and sufficient content marketing expertise is in house so that sales via the large platforms are not an unknown quantity and value creation in global competition can take place primarily through optimised performance marketing. 

Conclusion: e-commerce and the furniture trade go together wonderfully if you understand the new (digital) rules of the game, act according to them and are prepared to get into the deep end yourself. 

Contact persons
Portrait of Philip Kehela
Philip Kehela Senior Management
mokebo GmbH
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