From Showroom to Smartphone: Actionable Digital Strategies for Furniture Retailers

From Showroom to Smartphone: Actionable Digital Strategies for Furniture Retailers

Home Furniture delivery

The way consumers buy furniture has changed a lot in recent years. Thanks to new technology, evolved shopping habits, and shifts in the retail environment, it’s a whole new ball game. How can stores keep up with today’s home furnishings shoppers?

Challenges Remain, Digital Solutions Change the Game

Winning in the home furnishings industry comes with key challenges.

Extended Purchase Cycle: For example, furniture is often viewed as a significant investment. Pieces are pricey. Consumers expect them to last, so choosing the “right” pieces requires time as well. It’s typically never an on-the-spot, sign the dotted line scenario. This extended purchase cycle has been a sticking point in the home furnishings industry for its entire existence.

It is important to note that the buying cycle is shortening, relative to years’ past. Younger generations are increasingly swapping out their home furnishings in 12-24 months, rather than a more traditional 10 years. However, furniture retailers need to keep both buying trends in mind.

Complex Logistics: There are also logistical concerns. The size and weight of furniture present factors such as storage, shipping, and delivery. Specific to delivery, many consumers face challenges related to scheduling, assembly, and the placement of large items in their homes. No one wants to hire additional resources to get their newly acquired furnishings set up (in a timely manner).

Elevating Consumer Confidence: Given its prominent role in defining the aesthetics and functionality of living spaces, furniture selection is highly personal. Would you buy something that was “just okay”? No. You want a piece you know, with 100% certainty, is going to make you smile every time you enter the room. Technology can help with this. Virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) tools allow consumers to actually view pieces in their space, elevating consumers’ confidence in their decision-making process.

When combined, these factors may appear daunting.  Instead, they exist as great opportunities for furniture retailers to uplevel their capabilities, deliver on consumer expectations, and ultimately promote company growth—using advanced digital solutions.

Before heading down that path, though, it’s important to gain a greater understanding of what trends are shaping today’s home furnishings industry.

Understanding the Home Furnishings Industry Landscape

The following represent three key market trends related to the home furnishings industry.

Tech Takeover: Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere now, even in how we shop for sofas. From smart search features to 3D viewing, shopping is getting a major upgrade. For instance, Walmart is integrating large language models (LLMs) into on-page search. IKEA is launching 3D and more interactive selling experiences.

Smart Furniture: At the latest CES conference, brands showed off beds and appliances that do more than just look pretty. They’re smart, connected, and make life easier. Think: internet-enabled furniture like beds from Ergomotion or even more connected appliances from SONY, LG, Samsung, and Panasonic that make daily tasks more efficient.

Fast Delivery: Remember when two-day shipping was a big deal? Now, companies are racing to get you your stuff even faster, with drones and super-quick checkout processes. Walmart has expanded its drone delivery services in larger portions of Texas, while Sam’s Club has expanded its easy checkout by using computer vision to calculate the total cart contents and bill it to your credit card on file.

We can also look to what some of the top players are doing when it comes to digital commerce and order management:

  • Forward-thinking traditional players are modernizing their entire technology stack.
  • Omnichannel experiences are beginning to rule the day. This includes sales associates with tablets, virtual showrooms, and the ability for customers to move freely between channels.
  • Digitally native players are upending a traditional cottage industry, going all-in on D2C (think: Casper, Wayfair, Burrow).
  • New innovative products that include items like bed-in-a-box and electronically connected furniture are beginning to drive buying behavior.

Digital Commerce Best Practices for the Home Furnishings Industry

Staying ahead of digital commerce trends requires adhering to key best practices, across multiple areas of focus. Here, we look at the six most compelling in today’s home furnishings industry.

1) Invest in Technology

“Tech” encompasses a number of capabilities in home furnishings. For instance, payment options. Retailers need a diverse set of ways to accept payments, including traditional credit, financing, Apple Pay, and buy-now-pay-later options such as Klarna and Afterpay. Payments need to be frictionless as well.

2) Uplevel Inventory Management Systems

Supply chain and inventory management is more crucial than ever. Today’s inventory management algorithms allow the ability to ensure items are in stock, much more so than years’ past.

For example, if there’s an incredible demand in Miami, FL for modern furniture and then a sudden groundswell for traditional furniture in Orlando because of the migration patterns of the U.S., retailers must be able to react quickly and pivot. Agility is a must. Furniture retailers can’t buy a container today and expect it’s going to be the same container next year and the year after that.

3) Pay Attention to Data and Analytics

Decision-making used to be more subjective. Not anymore. Retailers need to use their data and analytics to inform decision-making. Here’s an example: Your data shows that 1,300 shoppers recently searched for a big, beautiful, nail-head brown leather couch. Do you have such an item in stock? This data suggests you should.

4) Understand the Demands of Today’s Consumer Experience

When a consumer is considering that nail-head sofa, retailers must present it in the new buying experience. This is where interactive selling and AR/VR solutions are becoming essential. Can the consumer see it in their room? Is it going to fit? Does it aesthetically fit with other room pieces? Retailers can employ tech solutions to allow customers a more meaningful selling/buying experience.

We also have to consider the path-to-purchase. Consumers may start online, go to the retail store to get some questions answered, and then they may finish the purchase online. They can do that, because consumers today are armed with better information and more transparency about inventory, pricing, and promotions.

So, if your sales associates aren’t one step ahead, if they’re not able to answer consumers’ questions, they’re easily passed up—and there goes your sale. Consumers will turn to Google or ChatGPT to be their sales associate unless you demonstrate the value your brand provides across all channels. In order to do that, you need to have tech in your sales associates’ hands to empower them.

5) Don’t Sleep on Delivery and Fulfillment

Under the umbrella of customer experience sits a subset of delivery and fulfillment. Will you be able to schedule the delivery when the consumer will be home? If you have a tech solution that caters to delivery predictability, you’ve just upleveled the consumer experience. If not, there’s a good chance that potential customer will buy somewhere else.

This is where having a customized approach can really be a game-changer (and not just in delivery and fulfillment). Instead of buying a monolithic software package and “hoping” it does what you need it to do, you have in place a solution that allows you to highly curate your consumer experience—from their initial product searches all the way through the delivery process.

6) Get Up to Date with Your Promotions and Merchandising

In any retail industry, people want to walk away feeling like they got a good deal on a great product. As a home furnishings retailer, you can’t ignore this demand. When you’re implementing promotions, you need capabilities that really drive those promotions down to the individual level.

Gone are the days of shouting out deals over the airwaves. Here are the days of saying, “I’m selling this to you at a fair margin, and you are getting a good deal on a great product.” Be cautious about insulting your consumers’ intelligence by refusing to personalize the promotional element of your sales and marketing strategy.

In terms of merchandising, it really comes down to whether or not information is readily available. Is price competitiveness available? Are you delivering the best and richest content—ratings and reviews, dimensions, return policy, delivery options? Do you have a chatbot or virtual assistant that can help move the purchase along?

Then, beyond that, retailers have to think about upselling and cross-selling. “Here’s a beautiful rug that would go perfect with your nail-head sofa.” Be intentional about that. It doesn’t serve you to present a generic complementary product; rather, put the next best product in front of the consumer.

Again, all of this requires using your data to merchandise in both a digital world and a physical one. Too often, retailers spend so much on their physical retail space but ignore the behavioral data and its correlation to customers. They miss out on higher average order values, because they think their stunning showroom is going to do the selling for them.

The truth is, about 43% of buyers don’t step one foot into your showroom—nearly half. Your online experience needs to match your store, and that means matching in every which way, from being knowledgeable about a specific item’s popularity to providing guidance and logistical information.

For instance, “Hello, I’m your virtual sales assistant. I’m here to let you know that this particular brown leather nail-head sofa is highly returned, and as such I’d recommend waiting until the next generation comes in. We expect that to happen in three to four weeks.”

Who Has Seen Success with These Strategies?

At the start of this blog, I invited you to embrace shifts in the home furnishings industry as opportunities, rather than obstacles. In the not so distant past, my PeakActivity team joined forces with Kibo to elevate CITY Furniture’s eCommerce capabilities—and thus improve the consumer experience on many different levels.

With a custom-built platform in place, CITY Furniture, a leader in the home furnishings industry, was able to dramatically increase the number of orders, as well as monthly revenue, while also decreasing cart and checkout load times. CITY’s user experience (UX) team now has the ability to craft shopping journeys that convert and build customer loyalty—without costly development. For more information about the work PeakActivity collaborated on with Kibo, please read the related case study.

It’s Time to Embrace the Modern Scope of the Home Furnishings Industry

There’s no returning to how it “used to be” in home furnishings. From tech-driven consumer experiences and AI-powered inventory management to creating a truly omnichannel shopping journey, furniture retailers have immense opportunities within their grasp. With such solutions available in the market, there’s no reason to get left behind.

If you’d like more information about how to best adapt to shifts in the home furnishings industry, or any industry for that matter, we would love to initiate that conversation. Please get in touch and we’ll reach out to set up a time to talk.

About PeakActivity

Achieving the best outcomes through digital transformation requires collaboration and expertise. Kibo and PeakActivity have partnered together to create solutions that empower clients to achieve rapid growth through scalable, future-ready technologies.

As an established and proven leader, PeakActivity provides the expertise, resources and services that unlock the full potential of Kibo’s solutions. Kibo is the only modular commerce platform that includes eCommerce, Order Management, and end-to-end Subscriptions capabilities that serve the unique needs of B2C, B2B, and D2C organizations.

By setting clients up for success with these flexible and powerful solutions, PeakActivity and Kibo are shaping the future of omnichannel commerce together.

Get in touch: or learn more about PeakActivity here.

Manish Hirapara
Manish Hirapara
CEO, PeakActivity

Raised in South Florida, Manish has led PeakActivity to become one of the fastest-growing digital strategy and technology implementation companies in the United States. Prior to founding PeakActivity, Manish oversaw the eCommerce efforts for a large global retailer, where he was responsible for an eCommerce platform that transacted over $7 billion in global revenue. Always keen to elevate his communities, Manish sits on the Alumni Board of Directors at UCF, the board of The Broward College Entrepreneurial Experience (BCEx), is a member the Palm Beach chapter of the YPO, a member of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, and is a charter member on the board of the NSU Broward Center for Innovation. In his personal time, Manish is an avid traveler and hiker and has yet to meet a food that he doesn’t like.