Furniture Business: How to Capitalize the Most on Ecommerce Presence

The future of furniture and homeware market is bright: it is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 7.8% making some US$276M by 2024. Though this product line has long had a solid online presence, the pandemic crisis of 2020 has accelerated drastically the shift towards digital experiences and forced more furniture businesses to go online.

Seeing an increased demand for ecommerce implementation services from furniture manufacturers and sellers, we’ve prepared a short summary of our ideas on how to make this online channel profitable. Here, we focus more on furniture website design, and you can also check our guide explaining how to start a furniture business online and covering some business aspects.

Website features specific for online furniture selling

  • Rich product visualization. The advantage brick-and-mortar retail has over ecommerce, not only with furniture but across all product lines, is the fact that customers can actually see, touch and try products out. To make online experience competitive, use 360-degree rotating images, add 3D technologies, and picture furniture items in real interiors to create a clear vision on what your products look and feel like.
  • Layered navigation. This feature is basic, still an absolute must for furniture web stores. As a rule, customers have an idea of what furniture pieces they are looking for (at least regarding color, price range, size) and will appreciate a possibility to filter a large catalog out against various criteria.
  • Easy-to-use manuals. Customer experience doesn’t end with a buy – you need to take care of trouble-free delivery and after-purchase communication. What’s more, if you sell self-assembly furniture, customers expect from you detailed instructions on how to put together and use furniture pieces. Most often, downloadable manuals are used for this purpose but some retailers bring customer convenience even further and provide AR-powered assembly instructions.
  • Visual product builders. If you give customers a possibility to style furniture pieces and choose the best-suited color or configuration, allow them to visualize the result instantly too.
  • Store locator. Furniture businesses often have online and offline presence alike, which is surely convenient for people preferring to do online research but hesitant to buy online. Placing a store locator on your website, you inform customers about the nearest offline stores and increase chances to ultimately convert them. Don’t forget to add such important information as working hours and parking availability. You can also allow for a possibility to book a sales assistant for particular time slots.

Why You Need Interactive Website Design

Interactive design vs. User experience design

Interactive design focuses on the moments of your user’s direct and active engagement – one that involves tapping, clicking, dragging, typing, etc. – with your website. Meanwhile, user experience (UX) design has a wider perspective and considers even moments of passive use – like reading a text on your website’s page – to be interaction.

As such, interactive website design is a part of UX website design that aims at incentivizing and facilitating the moments of a user’s active engagement. Some UX professionals prefer to zero in on this aspect of UX design and hone to perfection the skills of implementing interaction patterns. At ScienceSoft, we always put such focused specialists on highly interactive web design projects to ensure the quality of interactive design.

Interactive design elements

Interactive design processes break every moment of interaction into 5 elements. Most of these elements apply to all types of interactions, but some can be optional at times. The user experience specialist’s job is to define what elements are necessary for each interaction instance to make it feel natural and seamless.

Here’s the list of all 5 elements:

  • Text – A text or a symbol that indicates the possibility of interaction and focuses on its expected results – not the action itself. Think a line ‘Play’ or a triangle symbol that signifies the same intention.
  • Visual Form – Some interactive elements, like buttons or fields for text input, should have distinctly visible margins to specify the interactive zone. You certainly don’t want your potential buyer to take pains in finding the input zone when they’re filling in a shipping address for their purchase, for instance.
  • Medium/Platform – With interactions requiring different actions on different devices, an interactive design expert should ensure that the choice of interaction-inducing actions is predictable on all platforms.
  • Time – Certain interactions require time for processing input data and your website should always keep users informed about the state of this data processing. Otherwise, users may consider the website unresponsive and leave without waiting for the result.
  • Feedback –To give a user the feeling of accomplishment, your website should present a clear result of any interaction. For instance, show the ‘Success!’ notice after a user shares an article from your website to social networks.

The roles of each of these elements seem to be evident and choosing the necessary ones to assemble a smooth interaction flow appears to be a trivial task. Still, I’m sure that just like me, you’ve encountered plenty of web designs with broken interaction flows that puzzled you at one point or another or confused you enough to make you leave. The purpose of professional interactive website design is to avoid any confusion from the user’s side and eliminate all possible risks to your business.

Merits of quality interactive design

Just like the negative consequences of bad interactive website design can be grave, the positive effects of quality interactive design can be impressive. Let’s look at just a few of them.

Lower support costs and increased support quality

If users don’t experience any troubles when interacting with your website, they have fewer reasons to turn to your support, which leads to minimized support costs. Thus, by ensuring that every interaction instance on your website is properly designed, you shield your support specialists from such trivial issues, and they can focus on complex and unprecedented cases, thus enhancing support quality.

Decreased bounce rate

More often than turn to support, visitors who experience a confusing interaction simply bounce and never return. Professionally designed and tested interactive design minimizes the chances of users’ frustrations with your website and prevents a high bounce rate.

Higher revenue

Whether your website’s revenue comes from clicks or purchases, it is tightly tied to the processes of interaction. By allowing users to gain a satisfying experience from engaging with your website, you motivate them to engage more often, thus bringing you more revenue.

Increased competitiveness and loyalty

There’s a caveat to what I said at the very start about good interactive design being natural enough to not attract any attention to itself at all. If you draw your users’ attention to interactive elements by adding some feel of freshness and creativity to them – the way our B2B and B2C ecommerce demos do it, for instance – you can stand out among the competitors and make a lasting impression on your visitors, strengthening their wish to do business with you.

Benefit from the comfort of your users

A user interacting with your website is a client communicating with your business. Just as you wouldn’t want your business communication to appear confusing and unproductive, you shouldn’t let these qualities define the interactive design of your website. Whether you need to prevent interactive design issues in your future website or want to fix them in the existing one, don’t hesitate to turn to Kingdom Alliance’s team for assistance.

Website vs. Web Portal: How Are They Different?

Websites and web portals: general overview

The main difference between a website and a web portal is that the website is an online destination open to a broader audience. In contrast, the web portal serves for specific groups of people. Content on websites is available to all users, and it is less personalized, and web portal content is usually available after you sign up.

At the same time, modern websites and web portals are changing, and they have some overlapping functions. More websites become personalized for their users, and there are web portals that have public-facing pages. For example, Gartner defines a web portal as a high-traffic website with a wide range of content, services, and vendor links.

Comparison: a web portal vs. a website

If you try to figure out which option to choose, here is a short guide that will help you make a decision.

  • Audience: If you are interested in a broader audience of anonymous users, opt for a website. To cater to a specific audience, choose a web portal.
  • Control of content: If you want to focus on delivering and managing content, choose a website. If you need advanced control over what users see, go for a web portal.
  • IT ecosystem: If you don’t need multiple integrations with other business applications, a website may be a better choice. If you expect your solution to work coherently with internal and third-party applications, you’d better choose a web portal.

So, what is the right option for you?

The answer depends on the business you operate in and the tasks you try to solve online. If your primary goal is to increase sales and attract new customers, you likely need a website. If your objective is to retain the existing customers, improve their loyalty to your brand, and increase the overall brand recognition, a portal will be a logical choice. The web portal will also be the right fit in case you need to build a hub for efficient collaboration with your partners or vendors. And if you still feel unsure about your choice or, on the contrary, feel super sure and only need a reliable implementation partner as soon as possible, don’t hesitate to contact Kingdom Alliance’s team. We would gladly help!

Starting an Online Retail Business: 6 Steps to Take

Starting an online retail business promises a good profit if you are ready to do it right to gain a toehold and prosper. Building on the experience of our team in all-around ecommerce services, I will walk you through the key steps of launching an online retail store.

1. Find your market niche

Success in online retail largely depends on whether you can find a sufficient target audience for your products or services. That’s a strategic question that must be settled before taking any steps towards the business opening. I can think of several ways to understand whether there is consumer demand within your planned market:

  • Commercial keyword research to estimate potential search volume.
  • Competitor analysis (both across the web and social media) to see an average scope of businesses in your market segment and start thinking about competitive advantages to stand out.

2. Organize manufacturing and supply chain

Once you have decided on the market niche, you can start planning a supply side of your business. If you have products manufactured in-house, you need to set up the procurement of raw materials, secure production facilities, and organize storage and transportation for end products. If you resell or distribute products from multiple manufacturers or wholesalers, take time to research potential vendors and negotiate win-win purchasing and shipment terms.

3. Create a business plan

Whether you are planning a small online retail business or have grand ambitions, coming up with a thorough business plan is the first never-to-miss step. Its purpose is to have all short- and long-term goals set and ways to achieve them elaborated and framed into actionable steps and techniques.

When working out a launch strategy, make the most of the resources you have now or plan to acquire. Resources include financial capital, human resources, raw materials, digital real estate (websites, social media profiles), and everything else that can be put to work to generate profit. In fact, launching a business successfully requires finding ways to connect the available resources to the specified goals.

4. Build an ecommerce website

You don’t need to go into details of web development, just team up with competent developers to take on the process. To be on the same page with them, grasp some key requirements to introduce.

  • Don’t belittle visual design – an appealing website look is a shortcut to customer trust.
  • Prioritize user experience by making the shopping process quick, simple, and convenient.
  • Give your products the center stage by using high-quality images and detailed descriptions.
  • Personalize the digital experience of customers to show that you value their time and serve the best-suited content first.

5. Launch the web store

Next, you should make your website go live. You can celebrate the event and promote it beforehand via ads. While your business doesn’t have a solid reputation so far, you can attract first-time customers with special deals, which better be time-limited to prompt first buys.

6. Plan a marketing strategy

Marketing is a set of tools for acquiring new customers as well as engaging with them ever after. Determining a target audience and finding the best ways to communicate with them is essential for marketing success. As marketing techniques and channels are numerous, I’m giving a list of the most popular ones:

  • Advertising (both traditional and digital).
  • Email marketing.
  • SEO and content marketing.
  • Social media marketing.
  • Influencer marketing.

Become an Online Retailer Today

Ecommerce is definitely an industry worth investing in. And though I’ve only briefed you on the most important steps, you can conclude that it is not hard to get started therein, especially if you have expert support. Kingdom Alliance offers consulting and development services for entrepreneurs planning to benefit from an online business presence – contact our team for details and guidance.