Today’s world of savvy consumers expect a lot from online retailers; whether you are pure-play online or store plus online, you cannot ignore the power of the modern consumer, as a retailer the viability of your existence is at the mercy their clicks – they can make you or break you.
Although brick and mortar stores still account for 90% of the revenue created, there is a clear shift in the purchasing habits of shoppers, they are migrating online. A survey by UK’s webloyalty shows that overall online purchasing has increased by 27,6 percentage points over the past ten years.
When you think of furniture you don’t immediately think online shopping. But maybe you should. Just maybe furniture today is where shoes were 10 years ago. Back then everyone was saying that you couldn’t buy shoes online, that you had to try them on first. And along came Zappos and ASOS and changed all of that!
Today online sale of furniture account for 8% of the total industry sales in the US and it’s forecast to grow 45% by the time we hit 2015.
But how exactly do you buy furniture online? I wouldn’t trust buying a new sofa from just seeing a picture on a website! Well, some pretty nifty creative gadget are now available courtesy a few businesses with enough foresight to see that this is what tomorrow’s shopper wants.
I want to share two of them with you.
The first one is called LoveMyHome and before I get on with how awesome they are, I want to have full disclosure and let you know that I work with LoveMyHome, but that doesn’t make them any less awesome 🙂
LoveMyHome supply the furniture industry with interactive product visualization tools that help you and me when we shop furniture online. First up is the issue of viewing products properly, that means knowing what a product looks like from all angles. Don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t buy an armchair that I didn’t know what looked like from the back. That’s where 3D product visualization comes into play – it allows you to spin the furniture around, zoom in and out and change things like fabric or material if the furniture comes in different colours.
Second issue when buying furniture is will it fit in my house. This problem has always existed, whether you shop online or in store. I often get misled when it comes to the size of things when I’m in a furniture store because the store space is so huge it makes the furniture appear smaller than it really is.
Then when you receive delivery of the new King size bed, you realize why they call it King!
So LoveMyHome created a super user friendly 3D Room Designer that allows you to draw your room or house to scale and then place furniture in it to see if it will fit. It is fun to use and you can jump into your own design and take a walk in your own virtual home. It resembles a computer game when you are in this mode, and it is a powerful experience to see your home and the new furniture online like this.
A great way to really understand what something will look like before you buy it. The furniture store equivalent to the fitting room!
Check it out for yourself www.lovemyhome.net. I think all furniture retailers should have this feature as part of their website.
The second one is SnapShop. This little fella is really cool if you just quickly want to get an idea of what something would look like in your home. It works as an augmented reality app and can be downloaded for free from the Itunes store.
You simply take a picture of the area you want to furnish and then place items on top of the picture. There is access to a number of stores directly from within the app which makes it really easy to find new stuff for your home. You can scale items so they look correct in the picture. For me the big issue with this app is that you don’t actually know when you have hit the right size. Not so cool if you buy something you believe will fit because you have scaled it to fit, but in reality it looks like you have purchased a child’s furniture.
Still it is a very cool tool if you just quickly want to see if something would go with the decor of your home. Check it out here www.snapshopinc.com
 Experian White Paper: “The changing face of UK retail in today’s multi-channel world” page 8
 http://www.webloyalty.co.uk/images/webloyalty-conlumino-home-retail-research.pdf page 19 viewed Feb. 26th 2013