Omnichannel behaviour changes everything
Old truths. New reality.
Once it was simple. People bought furniture in store. They wanted to touch and feel the prod- ucts, check the quality.
Websites were little more than online brochures, contributing a tiny proportion of sales – and the sales assistant in store was the biggest single influence on purchase behaviour. Not any more. The first wave of millennials – now 25–34 years of age, professional, style conscious and with money to spend – are changing everything. These are true omnichannel consumers, mobile and online first. And online is fast becoming a crucial arena in furniture retail – both as a sales channel and as the single most important influence over buying behaviour across all channels.
Furniture retailers must challenge the old truths and adapt to this new reality – and they must do so fast.
This paper explores the opportunity and the challenges – and outlines the role that intelligent, automated merchandising can play in transforming furniture retail into a truly omnichannel discipline.
A new generation of online-savvy consumers will dominate purchase behaviour for years to come.
This first wave of millennials differs greatly from the consumers who have gone before. They are not store-focused, but ‘digital natives’ who have grown up online and for whom omnichannel is the norm.
They are significantly more likely to buy online, less likely to visit the store at all, and more likely than any other age group to simply ‘enjoy browsing online’.
But this omnichannel behaviour is not the only challenge. Specific online behaviour is changing fast too. Crucially, furniture shoppers no longer search online for brands. They search for category terms. As a result, differentiating the online experi- ence is becoming vital to sales:
To attract visitors and, by delivering a relevant and satisfying online experience, retaining them, whether they buy online or in store.
The retailers that are able to tap into this new behaviour will reap significant rewards.
Why? Quite simply because two inter-related trends mean that those able to adapt will take the lion’s share of the market. First, the European furniture market is returning to growth. For instance, the UK furniture and flooring market – a reasonable bellwether given it accounts for 15.4% of the entire European market – grew by 8.5% to $30.7 billion in 2014, and is predicted to grow by a further 42% by 2019, reaching a total value of $43.7 billion. If this trend were applied across the whole European market, a conservative estimate would put the total market value at $123.8 billion by 2019 – a rise of $43 billion since 2012.
Second, and crucially, taking a share of these sales will demand a highly effective online presence.
Research from Google suggests that:
- Online is already involved in some 75%of all furniture purchases
- By the end of 2016, online will affect 70%of all offline purchases.
Quite simply, the opportunity is massive. But seizing it will be impossible without the right online presence and without delivering the right online experience – and that means one that is relevant and satisfying for every visitor.
Winning in the new reality
The truth is this new reality requires a new approach – a new kind of online merchandising that focuses on intelligent product exposure. This approach will effectively balance the ability to expose more products with the need to inspire
each shopper with deeply personalised, relevant experiences. In this context, personal and relevantmeans making it easy to find the right products, and recommending the right products based on real interests, in real time.
After all, around 24% of shoppers already spend a long time searching for the ‘perfect’ piece: The retailers able to satisfy that need, as well as making it easier to navigate their inventories via category based searching will win in the new reality.