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How Furniture Retailers Can Compete with Amazon in 2020

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The world’s largest online retailer wants to lead in every ecommerce category. From electronics, cosmetics, and apparel to furniture, Amazon continues to expand its market reach. Between 2015 and 2017, the company more than tripled its furniture sales, and as of 2019, Statista reports that home and kitchen goods is the fourth most popular category on the site.

But Amazon’s one-click purchase model for cheap, easily disposable or returnable items isn’t optimized for furniture sales.

Online furniture shoppers want to carefully sift through a lot of visual information before making a purchase: they’ll need to examine the shape, texture, colors, and dimensions of a piece to determine if it’s the right addition to their space. That’s not a job for static, 2D, or poor-quality photos, which is what most Amazon furniture listings provide.

The good news for independent furniture retailers is that Amazon’s online experience for this category still lags. To get ahead in the furniture ecommerce race, you’ll need excellent visuals for your website. Take these three steps to provide a visual experience for your shoppers that builds trust and drives conversions.

1: Let Shoppers Zoom In On High-Quality Photos

Furniture tends to require a higher level of buyer confidence than the average ecommerce purchase. If a shopper is browsing for furniture online, they want to inspect the details of a desk or an armchair just like they would want to get a close-up look while shopping in-store.

With high-resolution photos and zoom functionality, shoppers can do exactly that. In fact, they’ll also be more likely to trust your website. A study on customers’ impressions of online product photos shows that customers’ trust increases when viewing photos that they can zoom in on and rotate.

Research from CXL Institute also shows that a product photo’s image size not only increases a buyer’s attention and engagement, but also their perception of its value – a high-resolution image suggests that the product is also high-quality.

What’s more, gaining a furniture shopper’s trust with an accurate product image doesn’t just help drive conversions, it also prevents returns. As many as 22 percent of returns happen because the customer got something that looked different than what they saw on the website. And returns for large furniture items are costly and difficult for both the retailer and the consumer.

2: Invite Shoppers into Your Virtual Showroom with Interactive Images

Just as high-quality photos and zoom mimic the in-store experience of looking at something up-close, an interactive image allows online shoppers to examine an object from every angle.

The ability to rotate an image is important in building a customer’s trust. With a feature like 360-degree photography, which compiles a set of professional photos into a seamless “spin experience,” shoppers can rotate and zoom in on furniture products in high definition to see every detail.

Companies across different industries that have adopted interactive images and 360-degree spin have seen a promising return on investment. True Value, a hardline wholesaler, saw conversion rates increase 22 percent on pages with 360-degree spins. When Home Depot added 360 degree photography to its product pages, the company saw 35 percent fewer product returns.

Although Amazon now includes 360-degree product photos for some of its furniture listings, it’s inconsistent. Most listings still primarily rely on static, 2D photos, as the seller provides the media. Which brings us to our third strategy.

3: Provide a Consistent Visual Experience on Every Product Page

When it comes to shopping for furniture online, consistency is king. This is one of Amazon’s main shortcomings – there’s too much variety in the quantity and quality of media for each product listing.

Customers often browse through several different furniture pieces to get a sense of what they’re looking for. When they can spin and zoom in on each item they look at, they’ll have more trust in your brand. If you’re not convinced that inconsistent visuals can cost you a conversion, take a test drive in your customers’ shoes:

Imagine, for example, that a shopper lands on an Amazon product listing at a reasonable price point, but there are only two low-res images. They don’t trust the listing, so they click on a different one. This one has high-quality photos, zoom, and 360-degree spin, but the price is too high. Instead of choosing between the item she doesn’t trust and the one that’s out of her price range, she skips the purchase altogether.

To avoid losing these potential customers, standardize your product media and provide high-quality, 360-degree photography for each item in your inventory.

Win Amazon’s Furniture Shoppers with a Superior Online Experience

Amazon’s lack of product regulation, which extends from the prevalence of counterfeits to the unreliability of its product photos, will continue to increase customer suspicion as the retail giant grows into more markets and becomes even harder to regulate.

This is a prime opportunity for furniture brands and retailers to seize the potential of rich ecommerce media and increase brand value, drive engagement, grow sales, and reduce returns. With consistent, high-quality, interactive images on your site, furniture shoppers will feel the same sense of trust they get from buying something in-store – a feeling that Amazon can’t rival.


About the author: Jeff Hunt is the founder and CEO of a startup called Snap36.

Furniture Industry News and in depth magazine articles for the furniture retail, furniture manufacturers, and furniture distributors.
Read other articles by Jeff Hunt