Just like food and fashion, the growth of the furniture business is fuelled by a constant demand.
Whether you are setting up a new home or office or just changing a few accessories to add character to your four-walled space, these pieces of wood, glass, metal and plastic help you make the place a little more comfy, a little bit more personal and lot more your very own.
And tell us who doesn’t like to have a cosy corner to sit, think, relax or just work on that dream project!
With the growing urbanization and rising trend of modular and state of art home-decor and fixtures, the furniture industry has become one of the most sought after online business ventures by entrepreneurs. Whether you already have an offline home-decor and fixtures business or you are thinking of starting a new online venture this is the right time to take the leap and create an online store and give a winning edge to your business.
Let’s check some facts, figures and forecasts about the industry:
- The global average annual growth rate for the industry is 11.9%
- Indian furniture market is anticipated to cross $27 Billion by 2022
- During the forecast period of 2016-2023, it would grow at 12.91% CAGR
- User penetration for this industry will grow 2X from 2019 to 2023
- Digitally influenced purchases contribute to 60% of sales for this industry vertical in India
Key Drivers Of Increased Online Furniture Sales in India
The above facts and forecasts establish without a doubt that the industry is witnessing an upward surge. In recent years there have been many socio-economic and technological changes that have heavily influenced the buying behaviour of the customers. Some of the key drivers for the growth are:
- Digitization, millennial population and lifestyle changes are driving more sales through online channels
- By 2020, India will have 358 million ecommerce users
- Increase in an efficient and seamless supply chain for heavy and large goods movement
- As of 2018, 86% of the market is still offline leaving a huge untapped online potential
- Growth of online rental-furniture industry in metros and bigger cities
- Increase in demand from tier 2 and 3 cities where customers have a dearth of choices
Challenges And The Way Forward
One look at the above facts, figures and trends establishes that the market for home furnishings and fixtures is bearish. Forecasts suggest that the market is pegged to grow at 36% year-on-year since 2017. The new-age buyers are ready to experiment and willing to invest in stylish, state-of-art and multi-utility furniture pieces.
However, the industry has some unique challenges and requirements. Let us analyze some of these:
- Customers want to feel the furniture before they buy
- Customers prefer to evaluate their purchase in real stores and then buy it from online stores
- Buyers are wary of long delivery time and careful handling by courier companies
- The market is very price sensitive and users go online to compare price before they purchase
- Furniture websites need visibility in search engines and hence should have a good SEO strategy
- Having a good mobile website is essential to reach markets where mobile-internet is the only way to access online stores
- Mobile apps are the preferred mode of shopping for more than 50% of customers
- Customers prefer the integration of offline and online store to get better visibility and understanding of their purchase
- Customers prefer financing options for big-ticket items which necessitates integration with reliable payment channels
- Customers look forward to an omnichannel buying (offline store, website, mobile, social media, on call) experience to trust a brand
3 Most Popular Business Models to Sell Furniture Online
Customers have been slow to adopt buying home furnishing and fixtures online but in recent years the industry has witnessed a steady growth year on year. Once you can address the main concerns of the customers, i.e; the quality, transportation and financing, the new-age buyers are more than ready to put their trust in your brand.
Unless you have envisioned a disruptive business model, you can choose one of the popular models to start your online business. Let us review the top 3 successful business models:
1. Create an Online Store
You can set up an online store exclusively to sell home furnishing and fixtures. This can be for both new or used items of home decor and fixtures. You will have to source vendors that supply you with a rich product range or alternatively you can opt for in-house production if you have the budget, expertise and experience.
2. Set Up A Niche Multi-Vendor Marketplace
This is a lucrative business model and gaining popularity with the rise of brands like FabFurnish, Pepperfry and Urban Ladder. You can onboard vendors to sell a variety of new and curated furniture on your marketplace. While your vendors manage the inventory you take care of the support and technical aspects of running the website. You get a commission on every sale made through your marketplace.
3. On-Rent Model
Investing in home decor and fixtures can be a real big-investment, even if it is for the long run. The new-age theory of sharing and reusing goods is gaining currency throughout the globe. This culture has made furniture on-rent a popular business model which frees the customer from upfront investment and maintenance. It also gives the users more mobility as they do not need to shift the goods if they are planning to move to another town or city.
You can start this model by setting up your own warehouse and having your inventory to put on rental or you can use the multi-vendor model where multiple-vendors can display and put their goods on your marketplace for rent.
How To Sell Furniture Online
Now that we have a fair understanding of the industry, its challenges, requirements and trends, let us begin the process of setting up the store and starting the online journey. Before you actually start your online business you should research and source reputable suppliers of popular items like sofa, desks, dinig-table, beds, cabinets, study-tables, chairs etc.
You also need to decide on the style, material and the quality of the material that would go in making furniture for your store. Accordingly, you will have to source single or multiple wholesalers who can manage your inventory and help you build a rich catalogue of products to sell online.
Once you have your vendors and product catalogue in place you can start the actual process of building and launching your store.
Let us begin the journey:
Roll Out Your Amazing Online Store
To start your online store you can follow one of the two approaches;
- Get it developed from scratch
- Use a turnkey solution to launch the store
Choosing the second option would be a smarter choice if you choose a feature rich ecommerce platform. Such platforms have the experience of handling a variety of business models and can easily offer a comprehensive solution for the requirements of your furniture store.
However, before making the final decision do check the ecommerce platform for scalability and flexibility so that you are not stuck with a rigid solution designed on the premise of one-size-fits-all. Do make sure that you get a good theme design that can be customized according to your unique brand requirements.
Also, make sure that you get the options to create hierarchical product categories and catalogue. With the feature to display product variants, large size product images and videos you can offer your customers an in-store kind of experience. This is important for any business vertical but it becomes a critical requirement for an online furniture store where customers want to have a real-life like feel of the product.
Since online buyers rely heavily on reviews and star rating, make sure your ecommerce solution provider also has this feature. This will help you influence the purchase decision of other buyers with user-generated content and images.
Use M-Commerce To Reach New Markets
Ecommerce is predominantly mobile commerce these days. We already know that more than 50% of buyers research for their products on their mobile. Also, with a broader penetration of mobile-internet, it helps you reach new markets and a wider customer base.
Check with your ecommerce solution provider if they have the feature to convert your online furniture store into a PWA site that looks, feels and works like a mobile app. Along with this if you get the feature to easily create Android and iOS apps for your business it will be an added bonus.
Set Up Trusted Payment Channels
As we have discussed customers prefer financing options for the big ticket items of home-decor and fixtures. To make checkouts easier for your customers you need to make the payment process frictionless and also offer them multiple payment options.
This can be done by integration with multiple secure payment gateways. Go for an ecommerce platform that offers pre-integrated payment solutions. This will help you in offering multiple payment options on your online furniture store to facilitate your customers.
Market Your Brand With Powerful Tools
Even the best store with the best prices needs strategic marketing to be visible and attract buyers. Multi-pronged marketing through emails, real-time unified notifications(SMS, PUSH or email), in-app marketing, social media marketing, discounts and promotions and a good SEO go a long way in establishing your brand in the market.
While deciding your ecommerce solution check whether it is SEO friendly and helps you optimize your site quickly without much technical hassle. Also, check for social media integrations as this will help your furniture store to get popular soon.
Get Reliable Logistics In Place
Logistics can make or mar an online business. Seamless and reliable logistics is the basic requirement for a business that deals with transporting bulky items. Look out for a logistics partner that offers seamless and discounted shipping using multiple channel partners.
A smart choice here would be to go for a shipping aggregator platform that offers automated shipping management using multiple courier partners. This arrangement will not only save the upfront cost, negotiation and paperwork of dealing with multiple partners individually but will also give a variety of shipping options for your online furniture store.
This guide covers everything needed to understand the setup and functioning of an online home-decor and fixture store. Hope you can give wings to your dreams and create an online store that gives recognition to your brand.
StoreHippo ecommerce platform offers all that you need to roll out and market your online business. With ShipKaro shipping aggregator platform you can get multiple shipping options to deliver goods to your customers across the country. If you decide to go global you can even integrate the shipping options of your choice with your store.
Ready to sell furniture online? Leave us a comment if you have any queries or need any advice.