That the last year and a half has totally revolutionized our work, our life, our movements and our social relationships is now evident. However, it is important to keep in mind that consumer buying habits have inevitably changed as well.
The furniture sector , by its very nature made up of direct contact and moments of pure sensory experience in showrooms and sales outlets , is one of those that most have had to deal with the so-called ” new normal “.
How has consumption changed for this particular industry, for which we too have carried out countless projects over the years?
How the furniture industry changes after COVID-19
In Italy alone, the interior design sector alone accounts for 5% of GDP with a total of 29,000 companies throughout the country. Made in Italy , in furnishing, is also synonymous with quality, craftsmanship, tradition and excellence all over the world.
In broader and more general terms, we discover that the American Institute of Architects has highlighted in the last year an increase in requests for the construction of home offices (68% of the 425 companies interviewed underline this), a greater search for eco -sustainability , of brightness and contact with the outside through solariums, porches, balconies, verandas and outdoor furniture (33%), and also a surge of customized projects for the so-called ” filter zones “, rooms in the house designed to house objects such as shoes and coats, ie elements that have had contact with the outside potentially contaminated. We are presenting only a few data, but which already make us understand the importance of this particular industry (of which Italy has always been one of the main drivers) on the world-wide market .
And again, according to the recent report ” The future of Home 2030 “, the trends to keep an eye on in furnishing , at least for the next decade, will all gravitate around the concept of home-island : the home will increasingly become a multifunctional place where you can relax, play sports, read and enjoy the infotainment , but also work . Furniture in antibacterial materials such as copper, cork, glass, but also accessories such as air purifiers and flexible filtration systems will be increasingly in demand. And then make way for the partitioning systems of the interior spaces to createflexible homesthat focus on multitasking , and experiential environments made of gaming and digital décor, interactive lighting, furnishing solutions designed for home automation, high-speed connections and to accommodate elements of immersive decoration. Spaces made of a lot of technology on the one hand and natural materials and material experiences on the other.
An indoor, therefore, which almost gives the sensation of being an outdoor or at least in communication with it, and which will be increasingly connected to the rest of the world .
In an interesting study last spring, Randstad shows us on the other hand that only 4.5% of Italian companies specializing in interior design work online , and that this approach has been able to make a difference in 2020 , when online purchases of this type of product increased by 30%. Not bad, considering that, according to InterniMagazine , in the first half of 2020 there was a drop in sales on the domestic market equal to -25%!
This is the confirmation of what was already easy to guess, namely that even an industry that has ” grown up” through its physical contact points must now necessarily turn (also) to digital platforms to give back an experience to potential buyers. purchase as much as possible to what they would experience during a visit to the store.
And if, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, the idea of a Digital Transformation for the furniture sector could have been a bit scary, over the months it has proved to be the winning direction, so much so that it has opened up unprecedented and unexpected earning opportunities. and new (and virtuous) opportunities for relationships with customers and leads. Therefore, new digital figures emerge in addition to the well-known managerial roles of Commercial Director, Export Manager, International Manager and Marketing Director: these are the E-commerce Managers , in charge of managing the online platforms and coordinating the digital team; ofDigital Marketing Managers who deal with online strategy; and highly technical niche figures such as Web Designers , SEO / SEM Specialists , Social Media Managers , Content Managers , Digital Insight Analysts .
All these figures, in rigorous synergy , can now offer effective responses to the change in consumption in the furniture industry.
What is a sales process and how it can be implemented digitally
To understand the profound revolution that has affected the customer purchasing process , it is first of all necessary to understand what is meant by ” sales process “.
In this way we define the whole set of activities and strategies – from the most important ones, such as consultancy or the actual commercial proposal, to those so-called “corollary” such as technical and stylistic support – aimed at selling a determined product according to a series of precise steps.
In fact, the sales process follows and favors the customer’s purchase decision in an increasingly multichannel way, even in the furniture sector : compared to a few years ago, the consumer now uses the network for all the preliminary stages to the purchase. real, looking for reviews and opinions on a particular product, reading insights , looking at photos and videos , comparing prices .
To respond adequately to these new needs, the company must therefore be ready to exploit the full potential of a multi-channel strategy which, from the beginning of 2020, essentially means using the many tools made available by digital platforms .
If, before the health emergency, much of the work was done inside the store , the limitations that have affected the last eighteen months have forced companies to turn to new technologies (in some cases) or to invest ever- increasing budgets in implementation of new online marketing campaigns .
In this sense, well-studied inbound marketing strategies , in which different media operate simultaneously or sequentially on multiple platforms, have often turned out to be the differentiating quid : from the use of Social Media to the implementation of E-commerce channels , from Google Ads to the premium content and services provided on corporate websites; finally to get to the exploitation of video calls and digital meeting places (an example is our new Digital Plaza ) it was possible at least to partially dampen the disruptive effect of closures and lockdowns which have hit almost every sector across the board.
It is a trend, that of the purchase of furniture online , now well established and not destined to disappear in the near future: not surprisingly, Hubspot reports that as many as 81% of users normally carry out searches on the net before buying a product . of any type – furniture included. And if once it was only the convenience of online products that led to their purchase via the internet – but often only after having rigorously tested the quality of the furniture in the store – today it is not always possible to go to the physical store.
E – commerce platforms are therefore transformed into ever more advanced , ever more interactive , ever more efficient showcases.
The furniture sector tomorrow: the digital dimension will be enhanced
Enhancing the digital dimension is therefore an imperative that can no longer be transcended even for the furniture sector, and which according to current trends should move according to four main directives :
- Development of a Social Media Management strategydifferentiated according to the platforms or the target country, to be studied over the medium-long term.
- Development of an E-mail Marketing strategyto offer users content of value, editorial imprinting, and less sales-oriented.
- Implementation, management and constant updating of e-commerce platforms, whether they are on proprietary domains or on large sector players (such as Amazon).
- Immersive digital experiencesto present collections and products remotely in a new and attractive way.
All the ancillary operations for a truly successful digital marketing project for the furniture sector will then obviously be added to these four fundamental steps.
On the one hand, as regards the relationship between company and customer , we will have the implementation of customer care with human staff and live chat or chatbot (virtual assistants who automate the conversation and accompany the visitor towards the electronic purchase); the optimization of deliveries (improved ways and times); new possibilities for customizing the product even remotely.
On the other hand, as regards internal company management , more and more space must instead be allocated to smarketing ; alignment of operations and flows with the help of tools such as CRM and Marketing Automation ; to the flawless coordination not only of the entire production flow, but also of the actions between online and in-store channels.
Have you already thought about how to implement an effective strategy that knows how to combine the advantages of digital platforms with those of in-store presence , for your furniture showroom?
Come and talk about it with NAXA specialists !