Furniture is one of the things that make you feel at home. If you own a home decor brand, you don’t simply sell things. You sell coziness, luxury, comfort. You sell the mood. This business requires diligence.
Full-time employees in the past, Lisa and Pat put all their passion into “various,” an online store of industrial furniture made of stainless steel pipes. Working together as a couple and business partners, they made their first sale in under a week and are now developing ambitious plans for expanding their product line.
This guide is based on their best practices, and it was created for anyone eager to start a home decor venture online. It explains how to open your furniture store online, from crafting an idea to growing your sales.
1. Think Through the Сoncept of Your Store
A staggering 60.7% of respondents of the Franklin Furniture Institute survey agreed that they express themselves with the furniture they buy. As long as you invest enough in your products’ design, you’ll find your customer.
At the same time, there are over 87,000 establishments that already sell furniture of all kinds, according to the US Census Bureau. That’s a strong competition. To get your piece of the pie, you’ll need to tailor your products to a specific niche with a well-defined target audience.
Lisa and Pat started selling furniture online with just a single model, now known as “DUO HIGH”. Steel pipes are at the core of the construction. This key feature let them add more products later while keeping their brand distinctive.
Find your typical style, your kind of language, your personal look, and try to create this kind of overall experience that fits your products. Our furniture is very simple, clean, monochrome, very “black & white”.
Who would want to express themselves with your furniture? You can find out by defining your target customers. It’s best to do it before you start an online business. Everyone needs chairs, tables, and sofas in their homes, but you can waste a ton of marketing dollars trying to sell furniture to everybody.
Lisa and Pat have defined their target audience very well. It took them some time to figure it out, but in the end, they identified three groups:
- Primary group: People who are interested in clean design, something special, often something custom made. Just bought/are in the process of buying an own property or apartment and want to invest in something durable that not everyone else has. Most of them keep not only the big brands like IKEA to a minimum but also try to work around typical design brands and rather invest large amounts of time and funds to find beloved, handmade, and individual items.
- Secondary group: Young students who save up because they like the “various” style and use all their money to express their individual taste.
- Third group: Shops, boutiques, hairdressers, gyms, wedding dress shops, and so on. All of them try to create a wonderful shopping experience for their clients away from the mainstream.
If you struggle to put your concept into words, refer to the Golden Circle model proposed by leadership expert Simon Sinek.
His idea will help you get a sense of your perfect brand formula that will make people really care about your product. In a nutshell, you need to answer three questions (in this particular order):
- Why do you do it?
- How do you do it?
- What do you do?
Simon explains the importance of the Why question in a 5-minute video extract below. Watch it to avoid the most common mistakes when crafting your unique selling proposition.
2. Test Your Product Idea
Is your product something the world wants? You’d better make sure it is. There are many ways to evaluate your product viability:
- Analyze your competition.
- Check out Google Trends.
- Create a free Ecwid Starter Site.
- Launch a crowdfunding campaign.
- Gather a focus group.
Lisa and Patrick were lucky to recognize the demand without additional research:
“Friends and friends of friends always ended up in our bedroom to look at our wardrobe. After building a few more models for our friends we felt that there might be potential to sell them online.”
The forecast was correct — they got their first “official” sale in less than a week. “We were so happy since it gave us huge confirmation for our business idea and the recent launch,” Lisa says. So research is helpful, but don’t ignore your intuition.
3. Build a High-Class E-Commerce Website
Just like any other industry, selling furniture online has its pitfalls.
Most of the time, furniture is priсey. For merchants, it equals additional investments in customer trust. Those who shop for furniture online want to be sure it’ll look exactly how they like it in their homes. Your website should have everything in place to deliver enough information — and still be easy to navigate.
Let’s see how you can get a functional website.
Roughly speaking, site builders can be divided into web-hosted (like WordPress.org) and self-hosted (like Wix).
With a web-hosted site builder, you can create an advanced and very customizable website. You’ll have to host it somewhere, though (at companies like Bluehost). Take this route if you see the big picture of your website from the beginning, and have some time and tech knowledge.
Alternatively, you can use a self-hosted site builder (like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, etc.). Most of them don’t require any technical knowledge: just select a pre-designed template, add your content, and you’re done in no time. They are less customizable, but you might not even need that with everything predesigned for you.
Here are some Ecwid features that’ll be helpful to furniture sellers:
- Deep product customization options (see example)
- Integrations with many shipping providers to save your shipping costs
- Omnichannel tools: sell furniture on Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, or even mobile apps within a single control panel.
Here’s how Lisa and Patrick built their e-commerce website: “The Squarespace template helped us a bit to do so, but in the end we put hours and hours of work…