Reshaping the furniture retail market for Millennials

The youngest Millennials turn 25 in 2021, whereas the oldest will celebrate their 40th birthdays this year. That means Millennials are, for the most part, out of college and in the workforce. They have money and are willing to spend it, but prefer to do so online.

For furniture retailers who rely on showrooms, this may seem like an impossible hurdle. But as the pandemic has revealed, in-person contact isn’t always necessary to successfully sell and deliver products. Best of all, Millennials have proven themselves quite willing to change their buying habits, especially if it means prioritizing convenience.

Discover how furniture retailers can attract more business from the millennial market in 2021.

Millennials Adapted Easily in 2020
A Rightpoint study explored how consumers’ expectations have changed in the post-pandemic world. The research found that one group of people — which Rightpoint dubbed “life changers” — has a particularly optimistic attitude about post-pandemic life. Rightpoint notes that life changers tend to be under 40 years old and gainfully employed. In other words, life changers are Millennials.

Millennials’ high level of comfort with digital platforms allowed them to easily adapt to sudden changes in 2020, such as the need to purchase items online and pick them up at the store through curbside, contactless delivery, or having traditional in-store purchases like groceries delivered to their doorstep. By becoming just as adaptable as Millennials, retailers can capitalize on this market.

Millennials and the Furniture Retail Market
According to the Rightpoint study, Millennials prioritize convenience above all else when making a purchase, and there’s nothing more convenient than browsing products online any time, any where, even when it comes to furniture. However, 32% of Millennials still do all of their furniture shopping in store, whereas 39% make both in-store and online purchases. Only 28% currently make all furniture purchases online.

Mobile browsing and buying is the way forward, so these percentages are likely to shift in favor of online purchases in the near future. If you’re a furniture retailer with no e-commerce store, you’re missing out on a significant portion of the market. If you already have an online presence, it’s time to learn what it takes to convert Millennials into loyal customers.

How Furniture Retailers Can Better Meet Millennials’ Expectations
Optimize e-commerce store speed and search – 72% of online consumers cite fast and accurate product search as an important purchase factor. Furniture retailers should constantly optimize their e-commerce store’s speed to make sure there’s minimal lag time. In addition, products should be given multiple tags so consumers can filter search results based on features like dimensions, style, color, materials, and intended room or location.

Transparent inventory information and flexible delivery options – The second-most important conversion factor for online consumers is the ability to have access to available inventory, shipping or pickup options, and to schedule convenient delivery times for specific pieces of furniture. In addition, 51% of respondents indicated the ability to make a purchase online and then pick it up in person would influence their decision to buy. To avoid misleading customers, make sure local pick-up is disabled as an option, as soon as a piece of furniture is out of stock at your showroom.

Offer a generous return policy – One significant drawback of online furniture shopping is the inability to sit on chairs, couches, or mattresses before buying them. Furniture retailers can take a cue from online clothing retailers, which face a similar problem, and offer a generous return policy. Return shipping is often a hassle for bulky items often delivered with lift-gate trucks or other specialty vehicles and equipment, but a last-mile service can provide a solution. The consumer can coordinate a pick-up time and the service can bring the item to your nearest distribution center. If you sell ready-to-assemble furniture, consider allowing customers to return furniture in any state of assembly.

Make reviews easy to find – Consumers read reviews to find information about comfort, quality, and other factors that are difficult to evaluate without seeing furniture in person. Up to 91% of consumers trust online reviews, and 64% indicate that the ability to easily find product reviews is an important factor in winning their business. Make ratings visible underneath every product name, no matter where it appears on your website, and link the rating information to the reviews list. In addition, pull common keywords from reviews and aggregate them near the top of the reviews page so consumers can quickly find the information they’re looking for.

Stand for something – In addition to convenience, millennials also value safety, a sense of belonging, and the ability to promote social causes when choosing where to spend their money. Prioritize community through social media and the tone of your marketing copy. Make sure your customer service is truly customer-centric, and clearly advertise what you’re doing to protect customers and employees in terms of COVID-19 or other trending concerns. Partner with a charity or publicize your environmentally-friendly policies (for example) to show you stand for something beyond your basic sales pitch.

Millennials Have Taught Us to Embrace Change
If there’s one key lesson Millennials learned during the pandemic, it was the value of embracing change. Furniture retailers can tap into the millennial market by welcoming change as well. Adopting a mobile-centric, convenient and ethical approach will appeal to this digital-savvy generation.

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