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Leverage E-Commerce to Boost Holiday Sales

Furniture World News Desk on 10/2/2015

By Barbara Karpf, DecoratorsBest, Founder and President

As we approach the holiday season, it’s a great time to be a retailer in the furniture-related industry. The data proves it, with studies clearly indicating that the global retail market will see steady growth over the next two to three years. This year alone, Americans will spend an estimated $32 billion on furniture, surpassing electronics as the third-largest e-commerce category in the country. And eMarketer projects that e-commerce’s share of overall retail sales for the year will rise to 9.0%, significantly above its predicted 7.1% share.

With this scale of opportunity, I strongly believe that it's the perfect time for small business owners to set their e-commerce strategies. The holiday season is a key time for retailers to give consumers easy and affordable ways to shop, put products in front of the right people at the right time and offer flexible purchasing options.

So how can we embrace this opportunity? Here are six simple ways retailers can leverage e-commerce to capitalize on sales this holiday:

1. Give crediting options
When people are decorating their homes, they’re likely to be facing multiple expenses – moving costs, closing costs or rental deposits, and even the costs of new construction or renovation. In the online environment, multiple financing options for customers can make the difference between a successful sale and an abandoned cart. Offering shoppers credit could increase sales and boost order sizes.

2. Design for mobile first
Mobile commerce is growing at three times the rate of e-commerce. During this busy time of the year, shoppers will be constantly on-the-go, relying on their mobile devices to research and purchase their holiday goods. In today’s mobile-first world, it’s not enough to just have a functional desktop site. PayPal and Ipsos research found that shoppers prefer apps to browsers when purchasing via smartphone and tablet, so if an app is in your budget, give it some serious consideration. Whatever you choose, stay ahead of the curve by delivering a seamless, efficient shopping experience regardless of whether your consumers are on desktop/laptop or mobile/tablet. If you’re thinking about optimizing for mobile, make that a top priority for your business so you’re fully prepared for the holiday rush.

3. Consider free shipping
Are a significant portion of your sales made outside of the US? Recent research shows that shipping costs are one of the most important drivers of a shopper’s decision to complete an international purchase. Almost half of all online shoppers say that free shipping would make them “more likely to buy” from another country, and the other half of those polled say that free return shipping or postage for returns is a “must-have.” Here at home, one of the biggest pushes by online retailers in 2013 revolved around decreasing shipping times and costs for US online shoppers. There are many partners that can help you with the actual shipping, but you may want to consider offering free shipping to drive conversions among your entire customer base.

4. Build trust with secure checkout options
In this day and age, some shoppers think online shopping puts them at risk for identity theft. In fact, a third of online shoppers hesitate to buy because of the threat of credit card data thefts. I’d recommend offering customers checkout options that do not require the direct exchange of financial information – learn more about digital wallets. Another way for smaller businesses to address customer concerns of online merchant legitimacy? Try enabling payment after delivery.

5. Think globally
Global e-commerce will more than likely triple in the US, UK, Germany, Brazil, China and Australia by 2018, reaching up to $307 billion with 130 million cross-border online shoppers. That means more opportunities for businesses around the world, whose online presence automatically opens doors to a worldwide customer base. Now is your chance to tap into the expanding global marketplace.

6. Choose a payments partner, not just a processor
The commerce experience is being completely rewired. Thankfully, you don’t have to juggle half a dozen payment processers to keep up. The key is to collaborate with the right partner to help streamline and unify all of your payment processing needs to better enable business growth. Look for a scalable platform that is able to optimize your payment processing end-to-end, and always keep pace with this thriving and dynamic industry. It is alongside these types of partners that you will truly connect with your shoppers.

Everything you need to successfully access new opportunities this holiday season is just a few steps away. Happy selling!

About Barbara Karpf: Barbara Karpf is an interior-designer-turned-entrepreneur in the interior décor industry. Through her company, DecoratorsBest, she has combined her artistic sense with the business world to bring first quality designer fabric and wallpaper to the general public. Before founding DecoratorsBest, Barbara graduated from The New York School of Interior Design and Brandeis University. She then spent over 20 years as an interior designer, working in New York City, the Hamptons and the entire Tri-state area.

Barbara was in "Who's Who in Interior Design," was selected as one of the "Great Designers of the World 2000" and is a member of the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Her work has been featured in numerous national publications and she has been a guest lecturer at The Architectural Digest Home Show in New York City. Today, Barbara works passionately as president and founder of DecoratorsBest to further develop her business and revolutionize the interior decor industry.

About PayPal: Founded in 1998, we continue to be at the forefront of the digital payments revolution. Last year we processed 4 billion payments, of which 1 billion were made on mobile devices. PayPal gives people safe and better ways to connect to their money and to each other, offering them flexibility and choice in how they buy, donate, send money and get paid. With our 169 million active customer accounts, we have created an open and secure payments ecosystem that people and businesses choose to securely transact with each other online, in stores and on mobile devices. PayPal is a truly global payments platform that is available to people in 203 markers, allowing customers to get paid in more than 100 countries, withdraw funds to their bank accounts in 57 currencies and hold balances in their PayPal accounts in 26 currencies.

2/16/16 - A Furniture World Reader supplied this infographic that includes data of how the internet has evolved and had an impact on online retail and the transport industry in the UK.