A digital transformation is afoot among home furnishings dealers
By Alan Wolf, YSN
Furniture dealers are going all in on digital technology this year to help buoy business amid a potentially softer economy.
That’s the word from BrandSource partner Storis, a leading provider of integrated commerce systems for furniture, bedding and appliance retailers, in its latest annual Furniture Industry Trend Guide.
According to the report, which shares insights from Storis’s customer base of over 500 home furnishings retailers, 47% of merchants believe inflation and competition for discretionary spending will remain their biggest challenges in 2023, while 21% are most concerned by the weakened housing market. To overcome those speed bumps, 53% plan more proactive customer outreach; 37% are increasing their marketing; 26% will trim operational costs; and 16% will toy with pricing.
The measures are especially critical to growth in 2023, Storis said, as 70% of retailers surveyed are notopening new showrooms this year.
Instead, retailers are pinning their hopes on e-commerce, with 44% pointing to online sales as their greatest opportunity in furniture and 33% targeting the channel as their top technology initiative for the year. Drilling down further into dealers’ e-commerce agendas, Storis found that 35% of respondents are interested in creating self-service portals, where customers can manage orders, check fulfillment status, pay for open orders or credit plans, and check rewards at their leisure. The second most popular e-commerce initiative at 19% is implementing Google Analytics 4, which brings greater customer insights, while reducing abandoned shopping carts is on the minds of 16% of merchants.
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Another area of focus for retailers is warehouse management processes, which came to the fore following last year’s flood of excess inventory. In response, 30% of retailers plan to open a new distribution center and 19% cited warehouse management as their top tech initiative. The good news, Storis said, is that 30% of respondents described their inventory supply and demand as balanced. For the rest, 28% are holding off on new orders for the interim; 26% are moving inventory through strategic markdowns; and 16% are adjusting their marketing and/or displays toward the highest stock levels.
All told, Storis suggests that home furnishings retailers align their businesses for digital transformation. “Companies that come out of recessions stronger use these times to tackle strategic projects that position them for the future,” the software developer said.
Storis’s complete 2023 Furniture Industry Trend Guide is available for download here.