Developing Your Ecommerce Strategy for Today’s Omnichannel World, Part I

January 22, 2018

Despite the growth of ecommerce in all of retail, there seems to be one constant—the phases shoppers go through on the path to making a large purchase. Whether shopping in stores or online (or both), shoppers go through a discovery, understanding and fulfillment phase before adding a new piece of furniture to their home. What technology has changed; however, is the vehicles shoppers use throughout the shopping process and how retailers in return can sell.

Shopping hasn’t changed, but the best way to shop and sell furniture has

If we look at the history of ecommerce, the driver of how fast a category has moved online has been how easy or “Amazonable” the product is. If a product is easy to understand online, shoppers will shop through pure play online retailers. However, if products are difficult to understand online, stores are pivotal to the shopping journey.

But even for a product where stores have a role, online remains critical. Shoppers demand a true omnichannel experience and the ability to seamlessly research and shop across channels. And so, technology has transformed the best way to do all phases above, meaning furniture retailers must bring their physical advantages online to meet shoppers where they are.

One example of this is geo-located availability and delivery data. Retailers on the Blueport Platform can show product availability and earliest delivery date on all product pages based on the shopper’s zip code.  Giving shoppers the confidence that the piece of furniture they want can be in their home quickly and with the delivery and set-up experience they expect is a huge advantage to promote online.

To build an optimized flagship store, there are three phases of your ecommerce strategy to focus on, and we will start with Discovery. The Discovery phase is hugely important in the furniture shopping funnel where shoppers research options and inspiration for months before even considering a brand to shop with and make a purchase. Let’s get into how furniture retailers can win over consumers in the Discovery phase in such a busy, ecommerce-driven world.

Make it easy for shoppers to discover your brand

Shoppers no longer have the patience to shop on poorly-designed, unhelpful websites. However, with the right technology, design and help from your sales associates, you can build a website that engages your shoppers.

Ensure your site is well-designed with your shoppers’ needs in mind

First impressions are everything in the furniture shopping funnel—most furniture shoppers do research on social platforms and retailer websites before even stepping into a store. Take advantage of this opportunity to win over shoppers the minute they land on your site. Do this by:

  • Keeping up with website design trends to maintain your shoppers’ trust. After all, they are coming to you for style and design inspiration for their homes.
  • Involving your entire organization in the building or maintenance of the site. The purpose of the site, how to use it and the content need to be understood by the entire staff to avoid inconsistencies in your omnichannel offerings.

Offer a true representation of your store by bringing your salespeople online

Take what your salespeople can offer in stores and bring it online on a much larger scale. Build or enhance your site by:

  • Tapping into your salespeople and their knowledge – they know who your shoppers are, what they ask and how they shop. This is all valuable information to influence what your search pages, product detail pages, and blog content communicate to shoppers online.
  • Using personalization and segmentation technology to give shoppers meaningful content and product recommendations, as they would receive in stores with your salespeople.

Provide shoppers with engaging content through the right channels

Connect with your shoppers when they are looking for inspiration by:

  • Engaging with shoppers on platforms like Pinterest and Houzz where they are looking for inspiration for their homes.
  • Building blog content, wishlists and gift registries to give shoppers the opportunity to build a long-term relationship with your brand.
  • Asking your salespeople what customers are looking for during their discovery phase in stores. You may find some great content ideas from the people in your organization who are in touch with your physical shopper on a daily basis.

The key to winning in this omnichannel retail race is to focus on your site as a flagship store that helps shoppers find what they need, whether that ultimately be in store or online. Your site needs to focus on getting people into your stores as much as converting online orders because in the end, furniture shoppers want to shop in both channels.  Retailers who can deliver a consistent and compelling experience across both channels will win this omnichannel furniture race. Contact us today to learn more about how Blueport can help you build the best ecommerce strategy for furniture retail.