Furniture retailers have been hit hard by the changing shopping habits of their customers in 2022. So how can technology help them bounce back? Strategic shipping, creative showcasing, and tailored customer experiences are a good place to start.
In the rapidly evolving furniture retail industry, technology is vital for success in 2023. To stay competitive, retailers must prioritize strategic shipping, innovative showcasing, and personalized customer experiences.
Efficient shipping practices streamline logistics, reduce costs, and enhance customer satisfaction. Leveraging virtual and augmented reality experiences enables customers to visualize home furniture, bridging the gap between physical and online shopping. Personalized customer experiences, driven by data analytics, foster loyalty, and engagement.
By adapting to changing consumer behaviors and leveraging technology, furniture retailers can seize opportunities and thrive in 2023. Strategic shipping, innovative showcasing, and personalized experiences are key to staying ahead in the dynamic market.
Demand for Online Furniture Buying
Many retailers who make or sell furniture rely on the old-school line of thinking that suggests customers need an in-person shopping experience to make a sale. Industry data, however, suggests otherwise.
A 2022 Statista report shows online furniture buying has skyrocketed from $33B in 2017 to $57B in 2022. While data for 2023 is not yet available, it would be safe to assume this trend has continued, if not spiked even more notably, in 2023.
The demand and expectation for online furniture buying have grown in recent years. What’s unclear for many retailers is a path to joining competitors like Amazon and Wayfair in the fight for online furniture buyers’ business. Without an established e-commerce store, how can they get started?
Using ShipperHQ’s integration with uShip’s pricing API, you can offer real-time furniture shipping rates built into your checkout process, regardless of your e-commerce platform.
Step 1: Get Online
Listing your items online is crucial to gaining an audience and customer base beyond your usual brick-and-mortar footprint. A lesson in taking a business online would take much more time than we’ve got in this particular article. Fortunately, we’ve got a simple, step-by-step guide right here:
While this process is straightforward, it may seem intimidating. Taking it step by step and seeking the right help is vital to a successful transition to online selling. Furniture retailers can benefit from fewer SKUs and inventory than most other retailers, especially stores that offer bespoke, antique, or handmade items.
As a small retailer specializing in creating custom woodwork furniture, you might get started on a platform such as BigCommerce, Shopify, or WooCommerce. Once you’ve launched your store, you can add product pages detailing your most popular requests. Adding customizable options within the checkout process ensures every customer gets exactly what they want without confusion or delay.
Step 2: Integrate Useful Solutions
Once you’ve launched your e-commerce store, you’ll need to integrate with the tools that will enable you to ship your goods efficiently, as traditional shipping options likely won’t suffice.
Two key tools are available to help with this challenge: uShip and ShipperHQ.
uShip provides a nationwide network of in-home furniture delivery services through a program of carefully vetted carriers. When you connect your ShipperHQ account with uShip, you can display real-time rates for in-home furniture delivery anywhere in the U.S.
uShip + ShipperHQ
- uShip is home to a nationwide network of in-home furniture delivery services through a program of carefully vetted carriers. When you connect your ShipperHQ account with uShip, you can display real-time rates for in-home furniture delivery anywhere in the U.S. Rates are based on the company’s 15 years of shipping pricing data. Often, when retailers need to ship oversized items, they need to wait for a custom quote built using the item’s dimensions, delivery speed, service level, origin, and destination. With the uShip integration, you can add these real-time rates to your checkout page with the help of the other tool: ShipperHQ.
- ShipperHQ (that’s us!) is an e-commerce shipping solution that can integrate tools like uShip into your checkout, enabling those smart shipping options and rates from uShip. When you pull a rate from uShip, you get the peace of mind of relying on a network of vetted and experienced carriers specializing in furniture. Without ShipperHQ in the mix, retailers would need to rely on custom development to add these features, which is time-consuming and expensive.
Check out this example checkout page that shows real-time rates, pulled right in a furniture retailer’s checkout page:
Notice the rates are pulled seamlessly, invisibly, and immediately. This is paramount in providing positive customer experiences that won’t feel overwhelming or unwelcoming.
With these tools working together, any retailer can add instant rates to their checkout. Even better? There’s no need for custom development or long wait times for custom quotes.
That retailer specializing in woodwork could benefit from the dual integrations by adding dimensional info on the product. Even if a customer customizes an item, you can add these options to the product info. This means you can produce an instant shipping rate for every order, whether a footstool or a four-poster bed.
Step 3: Appeal to Online Buyers
So, now we know how to sell and ship furniture online. But how do we make it appeal to buyers who are used to choosing furniture in person?
Flexible reverse shipping options
Wayfair has set the bar high for furniture buyers, offering almost universal free returns. This is unrealistic for most retailers, given the associated costs—flexible options such as deeply discounted shipping or a charity donation, depending on your products.
Our wood furniture retailer might offer a partial refund if a customer is unhappy with a footstool. Return shipping on this item would be less significant than oversized furniture shipping, so it may still be viable. A four-poster bed would be less feasible to send back. A retailer may offer partial refund for the specific aspect the customer’s dissatisfaction or provide repair or upgrade options.
Attractive and informative product pages
The key to mastering return shipping on large items is to minimize the chance of it being necessary in the first place. Provide complete clarity on item details, send photos before shipping, and practice open communication to ensure every customer is satisfied the first time around. This is the kind of individual care a small retailer can provide, with which a company like Wayfair simply can’t compete.
Before shipping out that four-poster bed, our woodworker may want to add a step to the buying process of quality control. Depending on the volume of orders, the retailer may arrange a pre-shipping call with the customer to review details and expectations before it ships out.
By now, most retailers know of the vitality of customer reviews and their unparalleled power to convert. Never is that more applicable than when it comes to high-value purchases like furniture—and never more in a situation where a buyer can’t physically touch the furniture before purchasing.
Consider adding customer reviews to individual product pages, even if your products are customizable. Having context from other genuine buyers about impressions and quirks of your product will help everyone stay on the same page with expectations, creating a far superior customer experience.
Are you feeling more energized to get selling online? We’re here to help every step of the way. If you’re a furniture retailer ready to get started, we invite you to connect with one of our shipping experts to discuss how to get started and what to expect.
Efficient Packaging and Cost-Effective Shipping Strategies for Furniture Retailers
Proper packaging and preparation are crucial when shipping furniture across the country to ensure a smooth and cost-effective process. By following these guidelines, furniture retailers can minimize the risk of damage and accurately calculate shipping costs using tools like ShipperHQ and uShip.
- Disassemble and protect: Before packing, disassemble the furniture into manageable pieces. This not only facilitates easier transportation but also helps reduce shipping costs. Ensure to wrap each component in protective materials such as bubble wrap or furniture blankets to safeguard against scratches and dents during transit.
- Choose appropriate packaging materials: Select sturdy furniture shipping boxes or suitable packaging materials to provide ample protection. Corrugated cardboard boxes designed specifically for shipping furniture are ideal. Fill empty spaces within the boxes with packing peanuts or foam padding to prevent shifting during transportation.
- Securely pack and label: Place each disassembled piece into its designated box, ensuring a snug fit and using additional padding if necessary. Clearly label each box with detailed information, including the customer’s name, address, and contact details. This helps with accurate delivery and prevents any confusion or delays.
- Calculate shipping costs: Utilize tools like the furniture shipping cost calculator provided by ShipperHQ and uShip to estimate shipping expenses accurately. These platforms integrate real-time rates based on dimensions, weight, and distance, helping furniture retailers offer competitive shipping prices to their customers.
- Choose reliable shipping options: Consider using uShip’s nationwide network of in-home furniture delivery services provided by ShipperHQ. This network consists of carefully vetted carriers experienced in transporting furniture. By leveraging this partnership, retailers can access reliable shipping options and ensure efficient, secure delivery of their products.
- Insure the shipment: Protect the furniture shipment by purchasing appropriate insurance coverage. This coverage safeguards against potential damages or losses during transit, providing peace of mind to both retailers and customers. Consult with the shipping carrier or insurance providers to determine the best coverage options for your shipment.
By packaging and preparing furniture for shipping using these strategies and leveraging the resources offered by ShipperHQ and uShip, furniture retailers can streamline their shipping processes, minimize costs, and ensure the safe arrival of their products to customers across the country.
How should fragile furniture shipments be handled?
Fragile furniture should be carefully wrapped with protective materials such as bubble wrap or foam padding. Additionally, consider using specialized crates or boxes designed for delicate items. Proper labeling and clear instructions for carriers regarding the fragile nature of the shipment are also essential.
What factors can impact furniture shipping times?
Several factors can affect furniture shipping times, including the distance of the shipment, the chosen shipping method, carrier availability, and any potential customs procedures for international shipments. Weather conditions or unforeseen events can also cause delays.
Does packaging affect furniture shipping?
Yes, packaging plays a crucial role in furniture shipping. Proper packaging, including sturdy boxes, secure padding, and reinforcement, helps protect furniture during transit and reduces the risk of damage. Well-packaged items are less likely to experience delays or be subjected to additional handling.
Why should I consider eco-friendly shipping methods for furniture?
Eco-friendly shipping methods help reduce carbon emissions and minimize the environmental impact of transportation. Opting for carriers with sustainable practices or using packaging materials made from recycled or biodegradable materials can align with your commitment to sustainability and resonate with environmentally conscious customers.
How can I track shipped furniture?
Most shipping carriers provide tracking numbers that allow you to monitor the progress of your furniture shipment. You can typically track the status and location of your shipment online through the carrier’s website or by using tracking tools provided by ShipperHQ or uShip. Tracking information helps you stay informed and provide updates to customers regarding their furniture delivery.
You can also see uShip in action with a free demo: