Why is furniture one of the last holdouts of products that shoppers are hesitant to buy online? Could it be a lack of confidence?
Shoppers want assurance that these products will be a fit for them in more ways than one. They want to know how a product looks from all angles. They want to see it in various colors and prints. And they need to grasp how it will look with their other furniture and the space itself.
In sales, giving customers confidence in their purchase seals the deal. In business, investing in the people, processes and technology to provide that confidence separates leaders from the pack. Applied to our business in the brick-and-mortar retail setting, trust is gained when the customer can customize and visualize items not on the retail floor using 3D tools either through a dedicated kiosk or tablet, ideally supported by a sales associate.
The technology is here
3D visualization and augmented reality for the furniture industry is truly a revolutionary advancement in the customer experience and in sales.
There’s no question shoppers have transitioned to buying online, and it’s set their expectations of the buying experience that has become the norm.
The numbers don’t lie:
+ 81% of retail shoppers start product research online
+ 56% of in-store sales are influenced by digital interaction
Using 3D and AR, retailers can create an online experience close to real life, right down to putting a piece of furniture in someone’s home — virtually. It can almost eliminate the need for a shopper to go to a brick-and-mortar store, thus bringing them to the purchasing decision much quicker.
Empower your customer
Even if a shopper sits and plays with a visualizer like a toy — spinning chairs, trying fabrics on types of upholstery — they’re spending time on a retailer’s website, and every marketer knows that the more time a customer spends on a brand’s website, the more they grow to know, like and trust them — and ultimately make a purchase. More than half of in-store sales are influenced by digital interaction.
Consumer research tells us:
+ 82% of furniture product page visitors activate the 3D view
+ 34% of people spend more than 30 seconds interacting with 3D
+ 60% of shoppers expressly say they want to see products online in 3D and AR
By giving shoppers a way to look at a piece of furniture from all angles — and even in a room in their home with product spins, customizable configurations, augmented reality placement and floor planners to visualize a space layout — a prospective buyer is left with little excuse not to make a purchase if the item checks all the boxes for their wants and needs. Better yet, the customer feels empowered by generating these visuals and feels more confident that they are making the right choice.
And it can improve the brick-and-mortar store experience. Digital technology means more inventory in less space. You have an endless shelf of products in all configurations and upholstery choices. Your staff can help those customers who aren’t tech savvy with how to use the 3D and AR tool right on a tablet in the store so they can get the same benefits as the online shopper.
Additionally, retailers can benefit from a streamlined ordering process with the manufacturer, with fewer mistakes that translate to quicker delivery and more positive reviews from satisfied customers.
The time to act is now
Furniture retailers still questioning whether they should get on board need look no further than the social proof of others in the space.
Ethan Allen CEO M. Farooq Kathwari has stated, “We invested in technology like 3D, virtual reality. If we had not done it, I do not know how our custom business would have fared.”
Furniture retail giants have bet heavily on 3D for years. Household brands such as Ikea, Wayfair, Williams Sonoma and Amazon saw the future and invested early on. More and more brands are following to meet consumer demand as the number of frequent AR users is forecasted to grow from 1.5 billion today to 4.3 billion in 2025.
If a furniture retailer is not offering 3D and AR technology, shoppers will turn to competitors who do. The demand is just that great.
For those retailers who say they don’t have the “bandwidth” to add this feature, I’ll admit learning a new technology platform can be daunting. But 3D platform creators are bending over backward to make the integration experience as quick and painless as possible with incredible tech support and customer service. They know this software is important and you need it. So any fears of ramping up should be outweighed by the benefits of having 3D in place. It just makes good business sense.
Our lives and computers (and phones) are going on life’s journey together. We want it all in the palm of our hands, including the furniture in our homes, and that, my friends, is now a reality.
Michal Stachowski is co-founder and chief visualization officer at Intiaro.