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Serving Customers Through Omnichannel Platforms is the Best Way to Stay Ahead

Furniture World News Desk on 4/25/2017

By Mike Rittler, Head of Retail Card Services at TD Bank

One thing remains true for the furniture retailers this year: E-commerce will continue to disrupt the industry. Keeping up with the speed and connectivity of larger corporations in e-commerce can be a challenge, especially with the pace of innovation and technological change.

In recent years, we’ve seen companies like Wayfair take the industry by storm, by radically changing the perception of assembly required (RTA) furniture, and delivering a fair-priced, quality product, with quick delivery. Their success is in no small part down to their use of technology. For example, Wayfair’s online reviews and ratings allow customers to engage with each other and provide validated feedback. This mitigates concerns about purchasing a product without seeing it in person.

To keep up with industry leaders, furniture retailers should consider improving the overall customer experience by harnessing the revenue potential of different technologies. The first step of taking advantage of the changing retail landscape is to consider attracting customers through multiple sales channels, including online, mobile and in-app purchasing to demonstrate a diversified approach.

Taking an omnichannel approach to sales

A recent survey by TD Bank of furniture retailers conducted at Las Vegas Market found that for nearly half (49 percent) of retailers, their brick-and-mortar store was the most important sales channel. This was followed by online (31 percent), and mobile app (4 percent).

While this survey suggests that there is clearly still great value in brick and mortar sales for furniture retailers, they should consider making their products available for customers through other channels. While the ultimate purchase may happen in-store, retailers that take advantage of all available channels have an opportunity to target a more diversified customer group, and capitalize on purchases that might not otherwise result.

So what technologies should retailers prioritize to add value to their customers?

Launch a mobile app

TD Bank’s Las Vegas Market survey also looked at the use of mobile technology by furniture retailers. Fifty-eight percent of furniture retailers reported that they do not offer a mobile application for their customers, with forty-seven percent of those saying that they do not see the net positive impacts of having one.

So why aren’t many retailers offering mobile apps?

This could simply be due to age. Currently, the principal customer group tends to be older generations, who are not driving technological change and pushing brick-and-mortar stores towards mobile sales.

However, change isn’t far away. Millennials are set to establish themselves as the main target group for furniture shoppers. They will want to browse for their next purchases using mobile apps, and visit the store primarily to pick up items. Stores will need to adapt and roll out a more omnichannel sales approach, including mobile applications. In doing so, furniture retailers can tap into a key demographic that will only grow in significance.

Financing on the Front End

Technological investments by furniture retailers across sales channels present opportunities for new partnerships between furniture retailers and credit providers. As customers browse furniture offerings through mobile apps from their couch or commute, credit providers may see this as a viable opportunity to offer assistance at an earlier stage in the sales process.

TD’s Las Vegas Market survey reported that brick-and mortar stores were still the most popular channel for offering financing options. Nonetheless, as furniture retailers embrace an omnichannel sales approach, additional financing options can be offered to customers through mobile devices, tablets, and other channels.

As furniture retailers start to build out their omnichannel capabilities, it is important they ensure a frictionless and consistent experience for customers. This applies across the whole transaction, from browsing possible purchases on a tablet, all the way to the invoicing, financing, payment and final delivery of furniture.

By making purchases more convenient for customers through uniform mobile, online and in-store offerings, furniture retailers will set themselves apart from competitors, and boost the chances of a sales spike in 2017.

More about TD Bank: TD Cards and Merchant Solutions is a top 10 card issuer in North America with over $24B in card receivables. TD Bank's credit cards are distributed nationally, leveraging our retail distribution network, direct response channels and through hundreds of partnership programs with financial institutions, retailers and other third party organizations, including private label financing.  For more information on TD Bank's programs and services for home furnishings retailers, Click Here