Benchmarking Furniture Retailer Website Features

November 19, 2018

Websites are a unique form of communication between retailer and consumer. It’s one of the rare types of media that the retailer has 100% control over—all the content, features, design, etc. Other communication and selling channels have their purposes, but a company’s resources determine what kind of a website experience they can provide consumers.

What features provide value on a furniture retailer’s website? The 2018 Blue Report: Omnichannel Furniture Benchmarking from Blueport Commerce dives into this topic. Blueport asked over 5,000 retailers to rank 60 websites about their impact driving sales and analyzed 125 retailer websites. The results of this study is a dense amount of information about furniture retailers’ websites.

We will examine which websites are the most valuable, which ones engage shoppers, what features helps customers shop across channels, what features enable marketing and promotions, which features help answer shopper questions, what helps make online orders seamless and which furniture retailers have the top-rated websites.  Since Blueport’s report exclusively offers the input of furniture retailers and its own analysis, we will include a section with the consumer perspective these topics.

Most Valuable Website Features

Furniture retailers have a clear idea of which features on their websites are the most valuable. Their rankings appear to assume that the websites are in good working order. Those features ranked from highest to lowest are:

1. ecommerce enablement

84% of furniture retailers offer this feature

2. delivery tracking

52% of furniture retailers offer this feature

3. real delivery dates shown on product detail page

19% of furniture retailers offer this feature

4. responsive design

79% of furniture retailers offer this feature

5. zoom

82% of furniture retailers offer this feature

6. mobile optimization

94% of furniture retailers offer this feature

7. delivery scheduling

25% of furniture retailers offer this feature

8. product reviews on product detail page

52% of furniture retailers offer this feature

9. purchase store quote online

5% of furniture retailers offer this feature

10. apply and buy financing

30% of furniture retailers offer this feature

11. find stores with an item on display

35% of furniture retailers offer this feature

12. sale pricing

74% of furniture retailers offer this feature

13. apply for financing

63% of furniture retailers offer this feature

14. customization of furniture

28% of furniture retailers offer this feature

15. gift cards

38% of furniture retailers offer this feature

16. live chat

39% of furniture retailers offer this feature

17. cart promotions

62% of furniture retailers offer this feature

18. 360 views

11% of furniture retailers offer this feature

19. alternative configurations

22% of furniture retailers offer this feature

20. online color swatches

52% of furniture retailers offer this feature

The Consumer Perspective: Consumers have more general priorities than furniture retailers. These percentages of consumers ranked the most important elements of a great ecommerce site as:

30% site usability and functionality

20% overall site design

17% responsive site speed

17% visual content

16% written content

Key Insights: There is a gap between how many retailers offer some of the website features they rated as among the 10 most valuable. Just short of 2 in 10 show real delivery dates shown on the product detail page. Only 5% have the ability to get a purchase store quote online and 3 in 10 have the apply and buy financing feature available.

It is notable that retailers did not name website responsive site speed in their top 20 features yet about 2 in 10 consumers rate it as the most important element of a great website. It is a lesson that functionality  and site speed are more important than bells and whistles.

Engaging Shoppers

How can retailers engage with shoppers on their websites? Furniture retailers think the following website features help engage shoppers:

74% wish list

73% of furniture retailers have this feature

66% idea board

6% of furniture retailers have this feature

63% gift registry

26% of furniture retailers have this feature

61% blog content

48% of furniture retailers have this feature

60% social sharing

78% of furniture retailers have this feature

The Consumer Perspective: 70% of consumers learn about a company through their blog. And as of 2018, blogs inspire 11% of consumer purchases.

Social media inspires 37% of consumer purchases in 2018. Social media was the #1 place consumers named, beating out retailer websites, mobile apps and digital press/magazines.

Key Insights: Some of the top-rated furniture retailers (see the last section of this entry) use blogs to provide shoppers with inspiration or share company  news. Less than half of furniture retailers have a blog.

Beware of undervaluing social sharing. Just 6 in 10 furniture retailers named it as a website feature to engage with shoppers, yet social media channels carry the most influence with customers when it comes to purchase considerations. Influence isn’t quite the same as engagement, but making it easy for customers to share furniture ideas from a furniture retailer website is a great step towards increasing your awareness and influence.

More than 6 in 10 furniture retailers think that an idea board will engage shoppers yet not even 1 in 10 offers this feature. If costs prevent enabling this feature on a website, consider using Pinterest. This social media platform is known for community sharing and engagement. (Frankly, furniture retailers should be using Pinterest anyway. Check out our The Furniture Retailer’s Guide to Social Media for more.)

Shopping Across Channels

More than 7 in 10 consumers use more than 1 channel to shop. Furniture retailers named the following features as the ones that help consumers shop across channels:

86% responsive design

79% of furniture retailers offer this feature

86% mobile optimization

94% of furniture retailers offer this feature

84% purchase store quote online

5% of furniture retailers offer this feature

82% find store with item on display

35% of furniture retailers offer this feature

77% geolocation

24% of furniture retailers offer this feature

75% persistent local store information

24% of furniture retailers offer this feature

73% make an appointment to see person in-store

11% of furniture retailers offer this feature

The Consumer Perspective: How customers experience a website on a mobile device impacts their opinion of a company. 75% of U.S. Internet users access the Internet with a mobile device. Almost half of website users—48%--say that if a business’s site doesn’t work well on mobile, they interpret that as a sign that the business doesn’t care. Most users (85% of adults) think a company’s website when viewed on a mobile device should be as good or better than its desktop website.

Key Insight: Furniture retailers are spot on to name responsive design (when a website automatically scales to the device using it) and mobile optimization as top features impacting shopping across channels.

Marketing and Promotion

Which website features drive marketing and promotions?

82% sale pricing

74% of furniture retailers offer this feature

81% cart promotions

62% of furniture retailers offer this feature

75% urgency/limited availability messaging

9% of furniture retailers offer this feature

72% finance offers

30% of furniture retailers offer this feature

71% email capture

79% of furniture retailers offer this feature

The Consumer Perspective: In the eyes of consumers, the importance of price as a purchase decision has decreased 12.8% year over year. The importance of online shopping experience increased 4% year over year.

Consumers rank these factors as the most important when considering their purchases:

61% price

10% product brand

8% online shopping experience

8% delivery speed

7% range of delivery options

6% website/retailer brand

It’s not all about price and offers. 34% of consumers say payment options are a deciding factor where they will make their purchase.

Key Insight: Once again, furniture retailers are in tune with online shoppers’ top priority: price.

Answering Shopper Questions

Several features can answer shoppers’ questions:

87% real delivery dates shown on product detail page

19% of furniture retailers offer this feature

84% product reviews on the product detail page

52% of furniture retailers offer this feature

82% live chat

39% of furniture retailers offer this feature

79% room planner

35% of furniture retailers offer this feature

78% product Q&A

22% of furniture retailers offer this feature

77% product comparison

28% of furniture retailers offer this feature

77% images/videos in product reviews

26% of furniture retailers offer this feature

73% content search

26% of furniture retailers offer this feature

The Consumer Perspective: Reviews are very important to consumers.  Product reviews influence 87% of consumers to complete a purchase. 61% of consumers expect product reviews when they shop online from branded manufacturers Consumers rank a seller’s website as the #1 place to leave reviews—47% of consumers share purchase feedback on a seller’s website (yes, this ranks above social media reviews). 92% of customers leave positive reviews.

Consumers also look for information and video content when they visit a website. 52% expect in-depth information about a product. 51% of consumers visit a retailer’s website to research products they consider buying. Videos help persuade 73% of people to buy a product or service.

Key Insight: If shoppers can’t find product reviews on your website, they will most likely look for them elsewhere. More than 8 in 10 furniture retailers identified product reviews as a useful feature for answering shopper questions, but only about half of furniture retailers offer this feature.

Seamless Online Orders

87% of customers think retailers need to do a better job providing a seamless experience across all channels. Furniture retailers listed the following website features as helpful on this front:

89% ecommerce enablement

84% of furniture retailers offer this feature

88% delivery tracking

52% of furniture retailers offer this feature

85% delivery scheduling

25% of furniture retailers offer this feature

78% pickup in-store

53% of furniture retailers offer this feature

76% warranties/protections

36% of furniture retailers offer this feature

The Consumer Perspective: There are 220.6 million ecommerce shoppers in the U.S., which is about 67% of the U.S. population. Americans spend 64% of their shopping budget in-store, and 36% online. Do people buy furniture online? Yes. 26% of consumers purchased furniture online in the last 12 months and 31% planned to buy furniture online within the next 12 months.

“Delivery was too slow” was among the top 10 reasons consumers cited for abandoning their online shopping cart. Abandonment rates are high—as of June 2018, about 76% of shoppers abandoned their shopping carts online.

67% of consumers use click and collect services. Shoppers cited free order fulfillment, flexibility and the ability to inspect their items in person before taking it home with them as the main benefits to using the buy online, pickup instore model.

Key Insights: There are substantial gaps in the number of furniture retailers who offer delivery tracking or scheduling features on their websites, yet these are among the top 3 features listed as facilitating seamless online orders.

Over 3 in 4 furniture retailers identified in-store pickup as another desirable feature to aid the seamless online ordering process, yet just over half offer it. Shoppers are increasingly turning to click and collect models of online purchasing (see the last paragraph in the above consumer perspective).   

The Top Furniture Retailers

The above lists name impressive website features. But clearly not every furniture retailer is in a position to invest in all those features.

In general, retailers who bring in over $500 million in sales have the best omnichannel features. Retailers with $250 to $500 million in sales tend to have good design but can’t compete with the largest furniture retailers on features. And retailers with less than $250 million in sales struggle with both design and features.

The Blueport report uncovered trends by store type. Different types of retailers (pure play, multi-line, specialty and conventional) excel at offering different features.

Pure Play:

best website design

best rich furniture merchandising

best at easy ways to pay

worst at shopping across channels

Multi-Line

has the most valuable omnichannel features

best at engaging shoppers

best at personalized shopping

best at marketing & promotion

best at answering  shopper questions

has the most seamless online orders

Specialty

middle of the pack across all categories

Conventional

best at shopping across all channels

second best at seamless online orders

worst at engaging shoppers, rich furniture merchandising, personalized shopping, marketing & promotion, answering shopper questions, and easy ways to pay

Which furniture retailers have the best websites?

Top ranked pure play furniture retailers:

Wayfair

Overstock

Amazon

Hayneedle

Joybird

Top ranked multi-line furniture retailers:

Target

Walmart

Lowe’s

Sears

Home Depot

Top ranked specialty furniture retailers:

West Elm

Williams-Sonoma Home

Lovesac

Crate and Barrel

Pottery Barn

Top ranked conventional furniture retailers:

Raymour & Flanigan

Levin Furniture

American Signature

Nebraska Furniture Mart

Leon’s

Service Tags: 
Digital Solutions
Marketing Strategy