Imagining the Furniture Store of the Future
A decade ago it was inconceivable that someone would order a sofa while sitting on their sofa. Now, we don’t think twice about it. Why the shift? An evolving comfort level with technology’s influence on our product selection and buying habits.
So, if technology has already changed the way we research and buy home furnishings, how will it further change the brick-and-mortar store and the way we do business within showrooms? And how can you – as a home furnishings retailer – capture this wave of products and services to gain a competitive edge for your business?
Sci-Fi in Real Life
Lowe’s Home Improvement changed the game when they introduced the Holoroom to renovation customers who needed a little help “seeing” the finished product. In this innovative booth, customers step inside a booth that projects a to-scale image of what their new kitchen would look like. For customers who previously struggled to see the vision – VR brought the scene to life in a way that inspired more remodels.
Today, you don’t have to be a big box retailer to adopt VR/AR technology in your showroom. There are customizable apps and headsets readily available that you can use to help customers imagine what it would be like to own your sofa, chair, accessory, etc. And the best part? It won’t break the bank.
Evolving technology makes it more affordable than ever to use these pieces to create a more engaging in-store or at-home experience. Just exercise caution when factoring the customizable features into your budget. Make sure you have a clear idea of whether it’s something you can do yourself or if the task requires the assistance of a developer. If yes, how much a developer will charge to complete your ask.
Automation is a hot topic in retail technology right now. Not only can websites update their own product data, but inventory can complete itself! This is a bold new world where cloud-based data exchange software and weight-sensing shelves take the work out of work.
Yes, automating the daily/weekly/monthly tasks does require an initial investment of both time and money. But, the payoff is huge! Imagine how many hours a week you or your staff would get back if you automated some of your most belabored and doleful tasks.
What can you do with this time? Improve your brand voice, attract new customers, enhance your in-store experience and increase sales. You now have the bandwidth to create a richer, more robust experience that enchants customers and invites a store visit instead of just a scroll through your online store.
Bluewater offers an amazing experience to customers in-store with their Magic Doors display. When someone opens the magic door, a vertical monitor reveals a mystical new place. In the case of your home furnishings showroom, a new living room or bedroom waits for the reveal.
When you incorporate whimsical touches, you’ll attract new store visits with something we like to call practical novelty. Novelty because it’s the stuff of imaginative play, but practical because it makes the act of coming home to a new room feel real. When potential customers can see themselves walking into a beautiful space through the magic door, the figurative door is open for conversation about ways you can improve their living space.
Of course, with any technology adopted for in-store use, the application is more important than the tech itself. The store of the future must remain focused on answering customer needs and provide a smooth and easy transition from discovery to purchase. After all, the ultimate goal of adding of technology to the retail environment is to create a more engaging, user-friendly discovery space that simultaneously gives the gift of time back to store owners and employees.