Disruptions and shifts are common-place in business; weather interrupts supply chains, technology shifts how people buy, styles change and so on. Smart business owners know and accept they’ll have to continually pivot to accommodate change. However, no one could have seen this pandemic coming and the magnitude it would have on the global economy that’s why I’ve chosen to look at ideas on how you can still sell furniture during the Coronavirus
I’ve been incredibly impressed with the quick shifts companies have taken to weather this storm to stay afloat. So, I thought I’d look at some ways retail furniture stores that have been forced to close can also adapt and keep on selling.
Are furniture stores essential businesses? Check with your local government to view their specific guidelines.
Typically home improvement projects, car maintenance, furniture buying and such are all tasks that have to be done over the weekend. Right now however, many people are using this time at home to complete the home projects that they’ve been putting off. They’re finally building that book shelf, putting new tires on their car and shopping around for new furniture. After-all, people are now at home 24/7, now more than ever they’ll want their home to be their sanctuary.
However, buyers are savvy. They know that times are hard for businesses, and they assume that right now they’ll be able to find a good deal. I myself choose to take this time to finally buy a new car knowing that sales for dealerships were low and that they’d be more than willing to make a deal. But, for the purpose of this article I’ve tried to put together ideas beyond just having a sale, and instead look at ideas a little outside the box.
How To Sell Furniture During The Coronavirus
1. Focus On Video – While online furniture sales have taken off, many people still prefer visiting their local furniture store where the staff is incredible knowledgeable and can help you develop your vision. Most likely, you know each set of furniture on your floor like the back of your hand and you’ve given the same sales pitch on each set a hundred times. Use this time to create a video of the typical sales pitch you’d normally give for each set of furniture you have on your floor.
2. Video Sales Calls – Shift to accepting video sales calls with potential clients. Update your website and marketing to let people know that you’ll be accepting video sales calls to help clients shop for what they need.
3. Accept Refundable Deposits – One of the major advantage to buying in-store is being able to experience the furniture – experience the hand of the fabric, the loft of the cushion and view the dozens of design options. Since providing that option is no longer available for many retailers, you may want to shift how you do business – allow your customers to put down a refundable deposit on furniture to take advantage of any sales you might have going on right now and then when your store re-opens, they can view the furniture in-person and finalize the order. The client gets the sale price, you get deposits. Win-win.
4. Mail Out Samples – Talk to your suppliers and see if they’d being willing to work with you on getting extra samples since you may need to mail them out. You can do this a few different ways:
- Send fabric books to clients with pre-paid packaging to ship it back
- Charge the client money for the samples which will be refunded once it’s returned by a specific time.
- Or, you can cut small pieces out of your fabric samples to send out – no cost to them and no return necessary.
5. Build Out Online Sales Platforms – Use this time to build out your online sales channels. Have you been wanting to expand with an eCommerce website? Now might be the time. Not ready to build out an eCommerce store? Try posting your sets of furniture on different market places to see how they do; try Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Houzz, shopable Pinterest pins, shopable Instagram images etc. (check any compliance requirements set by your suppliers first). Note: Be sure to share that you’re available for video sales calls if anyone wants to learn more about a particular set.
6. Allow Visitors By Appointment Only – (**This particular idea is subject to your local government regulations). Update your website and marketing to let customers know that you’re now accepting visitors by appointment and link it to an online appointment web page. I’d also explain how you’re making it safe for visitors – you could go as far as to create a video showing your team wiping down the doors before/after each visit, spraying lysol disinfectant on furniture after each visit (based on where people sat), wiping down surfaces, wiping down your POS systems & checkout counters etc.
7. Create Interior Design Videos – Many retail stores have an in-house designer that helps customers put together their ideal space. Use this time to create short videos answering some of the common questions your designer gets. Don’t have an in-house designer, team up with a local Interior Decorator, chances are their business has come to a halt and they’re looking for creative ways to build up business.
8. Audience Specific Marketing – I always say that advertising that attempts to speak to everyone, speaks to no one. So get specific with your campaigns. One campaign could be geared towards families at home and you could discuss creating the perfect backyard and different family-friendly activities. Or think about how a couple could create a perfect date night nook in their home or on the patio. There are also thousands of people who have found themselves working at home for the first time, what not do a campaign to help them create a more practical space. Help them view their home as a get-away, not a prison.
9. Bring The Sale To Your Customers – As I mentioned earlier, I chose this time to buy a new car. After a lot of negotiating (three days of negotiating to be exact, two days of walking out) I was please to learn that the dealership was offering to bring the car to me, bring all of the paperwork and take payment from my home.
Why not take this approach with furniture? If you’re offering digital sales calls, why not offer to deliver the furniture along with the paperwork and an iPad to take payment too. You meet in their driveway, they get to inspect the furniture before buying and it all happens from the convenience of their home. Going into their home to set up the furniture? Bring masks, gloves and booties to wear (and put them on in-front of the client so they know you haven’t been wearing them all day).
If you’re selling made-to-order products, you can still bring the sale to them by instead bringing samples of the fabric they choose and/or frame colors along with the paperwork etc.
10. Prepare For A Come-Back – The Corona Virus won’t be an issue forever, eventually after months of being cooped up, people are going to flock to stores and restaurants in droves. You can use this time to develop your local SEO to improve your local search result ranking so that when they do, you’ll be at the top of the list. Since SEO is a long-term game plan, now might be the perfect time to start.
If you’re looking to rank higher for those geo specific “near me” searches, building out your SEO might be perfect for you. Reach out to our team to learn more, Contact Us.
11. Test Out Daily Deal Sites – Have you wanted to try out sites like Groupon in-order to move sale items? Now might be the time to get familiar and push product that’s been sitting too long.
12. Don’t Stop Marketing – Your gut reaction during this time might be to cut all costs, I encourage you to instead re-think how you’re spending. Since there have been dozens of studies and articles written about this (such as Inc. Magazine “4 Reasons Why Marketing Should Never Be The First Expense You Cut.”) I won’t go too in-depth, instead I’ll leave you with this question. You can make shifts in how you do business, but if you don’t tell anyone about it through strategic marketing and advertising, then what’s the point?
Digital advertising costs have been decreasing as companies reign in their advertising budget, now might be the perfect time to give it a try.
Have you and your team found unique ways to Sell Furniture During The Coronavirus? Share below, we’d love to hear from you!