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Pandemic Playbook from Amber Engine: Choosing an Ecomm Platform for Furniture

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As the dividing line between growth and stagnation, Ecommerce seems daunting for small furniture companies. But the good news is that software and platforms exist to make online sales easier, less stressful and easier to manage. So, this is your chance to mark another big item off your long-running to-do list.  

DIY Ecomm

If you’re feeling ambitious, a few website builders offer Ecommerce functionality for the do-it-yourselfer crowd. Most sites, like Shopify, require no knowledge of coding or design. They provide customizable templates that are reasonably intuitive and easy-to-use. Of course, for more in-depth options and designs, you’ll want to make sure to choose a platform that offers access to the code, like Wix, so you may bring on a designer down the line. And, for the budget-conscious, Square Online Store offers free plans that help you dip a toe into the Ecommerce pool.

If you already have a website and simply want to add a store to it, WooCommerce offers a plug-in that makes the combination relatively simple.  

Regardless of the implementation you choose, it’s imperative to consider:

  • Storage – the amount of data and/or SKUs you can list on the platform

  • Safety/Security – SSL encryption is a must-have to protect your company and customers against fraud

  • Design – the look and on-page experience offered to your customers

Choosing Your Ecommerce Site Design

Carefully select your template with your customer in mind and resist the urge to get hung up on the aesthetics. Colors and images will change. In this part of the process you’re evaluating:

  1.  Is the layout clean and appealing?

As an extension of your brick-and-mortar store/facility, you want to create an equally enjoyable online experience. Especially since today's customer journey starts online. Be sure to create a space that will make shoppers want to visit your retail space or showroom when Stay Home orders are lifted in your area.

  1. Is the navigation clear and easy?

Helping customers get to the product(s) they want quickly helps reduce frustration and bounce rates. Make sure your template offers search and sort features that make finding just the right thing fast and easy.  

  1.  Is the design mobile friendly?

Whether someone is shopping in the office or on the go, your store’s experience should be easy to use. Check out the mobile layout and evaluate it with care. More and more, phones and tablets change the way people shop. You want to be your best in every space.  

  1. Are multilingual functionalities built-in?

Even if your company doesn’t do a tremendous amount of exporting, keep in mind that a shopper's first language preference may not be your own. Create an inclusive online experience with translations if you’re able to add sales to your page.

  1. Can you find the shopping cart easily on each page?

Guests should be able to complete their purchase at any point in their exploration. Don’t stand in the way of a sale with a poor design that blocks access to check-out.

  1. Are you able to add a blog?

As an Ecomm newbie, a blog is probably the last thing on your mind. But it’s a great SEO element for organic search when you have a little more time on your hands. 

Adding Products

Once you have your template of choice edited with on-brand fonts, colors, logos and landing page photography, it’s time to get those wonderful products listed. Depending on the software or service provider you choose, you’ll add your products individually or in a single, bulk upload.

Since this is your truest opportunity to shine, it pays to carefully consider the product data and specifications you share with customers. Ensure the sizes, materials, finishes and colors are accurate in your written descriptions and that the associated image(s) correlate with the product. If you don’t have photography yet, you can set up a small studio and capture shots with your phone or an affordable camera. Ideally, you’ll want a silo shot of only the product, detail photos - like close-ups of the fabric, rug corners, construction or wood grain, and a scene where the product is in use. 

Make sure that you take advantage of SEO in your catalog listings to capture people looking for the product you sell. But don’t stop at your descriptions – think about how the competition positions their similar products and use that language, as well.

Go Live

Publishing your Ecommerce site is a wonderfully exciting, nerve-rattling experience. You’re happy, scared and paranoid all at once – and every single emotion is valid and hard-earned. Just remember a few of our key lessons:

  1. Your high school English teacher can’t mark up your website with a red pen and send it back. But if she should – heed the advice. You want to make sure that any mistakes are corrected quickly.

  2. Mistakes are inevitable, but that’s the beauty of Ecommerce. You can log on and correct the spelling, change the pricing or adjust the math in the blink of an eye. Print doesn’t offer that luxury.

  3. Shout your success from the rooftops. Tell everyone who will listen that your furniture supply is available online. This isn’t “Field of Dreams.” Just because you built it doesn’t mean that customers will come. Do your part and let your people know it’s there and ready for shopping.

Once your site is live, branch out a bit with other online marketplaces and retailers. Amazon, Wayfair, Houzz, Hayneedle and countless others add sales with the brand-backed power of a trusted marketplace. They all have a unique set of criteria for selling on their sites, like photography size or composition, but the effort will be worth it. Of course, if that’s too overwhelming, this is a service that can be outsourced.

For now, direct your focus to your initial goals to cut overwhelm and confusion. Shop your software providers, compare benefits and select the Ecommerce plan that best suits your business. Choose your template and customize it to your liking. Load your carefully described products and watch the magic of online sales unfold for your furniture company.

 


 

About Amber Engine: Amber Engine’s innovative software solutions simplify work and empower people. The company offers full-service e-commerce solutions for furniture brands looking to sell in online marketplaces such as Wayfair, Amazon, Houzz, and many more. For more information contact info@amberengine.com or visit the company's website.

Furniture Industry News and in depth magazine articles for the furniture retail, furniture manufacturers, and furniture distributors.
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