Despite the fact that the high street has been declared officially open by the government, it feels like we’re a long way off ‘normal’. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
They say in every crisis lies an opportunity and in case of furniture retail, the opportunity is digital. Not ‘digital-only’ but digital as part of a new customer journey in which stores still have an integral role to play.
Since re-opening, many furniture stores have reported strong sales thanks, in-part, to pent-up demand but this initial surge will at some point start to subside and in its place needs to be a strategy that engages customers at each step of their journey.
A recent study by EY found that 51% of consumers think that the way that they shop will fundamentally change because of Covid-19, so any retail strategy needs to be able to adapt quickly to these changes.
For bigger ticket items it’s likely that a store visit will remain a key part of the purchase journey, however this may now happen further down the line in the decision-making process, so bringing the online and offline experiences together is key.
With shoppers less inclined to visit stores on a whim, more browsing will happen online so capturing the attention of customers in this ‘discovery’ phase is really important. Content that creates an enhanced online browsing experience will put those using it ahead of the competition and play into a new found digital confidence that can be found across almost all audience groups.
From virtual store tours created using shoppable 3D technology, to digital sales consultant appointments, there plenty of ways to make the experience more engaging, from a distance.
Retailers such as Heal’s, John Lewis and Wren are all offering virtual consultations via video, which enable customers to ask questions, seek recommendations or view products on the shop floor, all from the comfort of their own homes. Simple to set up, these new systems are able to provide a personalised service that forges a connection between the brand and customer.
The next step is to bring the customer in-store and appointment booking systems are working really well for many retailers. They not only help to reassure customers that their journey to a store will be a useful one, but have an incredibly high conversion rate which makes them helpful forecaster for retailers.
Out of town furniture stores with bigger spaces and plenty of parking have seen higher than normal footfall in recent weeks, demonstrating that ease of access is also an important part of the purchase journey to consider.
Those who are managing this new journey well will raise the benchmark and other retailers will need to rise to meet it in order to compete. Are you ready for the challenge?
Get in touch with us on 0191 375 9150 to find out how we can work with you.