Not Just IKEA: technology helps retailers succeed in today’s dynamic furniture and home decor market
Before IKEA erupted on the market in the 1980’s, furniture and home decor was not a very dynamic part of retailing. Furniture was often inherited or bought only when people set up home and then kept as long as it lasted. Furniture stores often kept pieces in the showroom or in stock for long periods of time.
But thanks partly to the innovation introduced by IKEA, furniture and home decor have today take on some of the characteristics of fashion apparel, with higher turnover, seasonal product cycles and more style options than ever. Expect to find curated options for holiday table settings and warm fuzzy blankets in the winter or light beach house linens and flower vases in the summer.
With so many increasingly affordable and diverse options, people are more likely to change and adapt the style of their living spaces more often. While the market is increasingly competitive, furniture retailers with a store and online presence have an advantage over online-only furniture retailers, particularly if they have reasonable shipping charges and a flexible return policy which allows them to browse, buy, and return items either online or in different stores.
Online stores help boost overall growth
The global home furnishings market will reach $664.0 billion by 2020, according to Allied Market Research, and retailers face stiff competition. The US alone accounts for 15,000 stores with a combined annual revenue of about $27 billion. Online stores are becoming the fastest-growing channel at a CAGR of 16.6 percent, three times the rate for the overall market .
Despite the rise of etailers, the majority of retailers in this segment want both a physical and digital presence. From a product and marketing perspective, the omnichannel retail strategy can be used to help guide customers at any point during their purchase journey.
More Flexibility, Better Experience
A centralized product management system allows furniture retailers to add new products quickly and across all channels. A flexible system allows them to use an unlimited number of attributes and group them into any number of assortment types.
These assortment groups can be used to create integrated web-room and showroom displays that can help customers visualize their purchases more accurately and even inspire them to buy multiple coordinating items. French retailer Maisons du Monde allows you to view any item in a room setting on any mobile device. Whether customers are at home or in the store with the help of a sales associate, the information is organized so that they can find more easily what they are looking for.
Crate & Barrel, a longtime home furnishings retailer with an online outlet available in the early days of online stores, has also cultivated a more experiential venture into modern, affordable home furniture and furnishings called C2B. With just 11 stores, C2B uses their only online and social channels create a more personalized interaction between their designers and their customers. And they offer a flexible returns policy as well as international and free shipping options, in case can’t come to the store to see and feel the items for themselves, or decide the piece doesn’t quite work as well as they thought in their living room.
Extra Management Support Boosts Store Productivity
Business analytics, demand forecasting and inventory planning tools can also help manage seasonal demands, not only for larger assortment over faster product cycles, but also responding to sales needs across stores more quickly. So, if one particular item is selling faster in one store over another, the inventory can be balanced out so that over-stock or out-of-stock situations are avoided. The flexibility to set pricing and time-specific promotions can also be used to drive sales and balance inventory across stores or channels.
A well-rounded technology platform like Openbravo Commerce Suite can help stores integrate and enhance their online and in-store presence. For more information, please visit Openbravo for Furniture and Home Furnishings Retailers