Jun 20, 20194 min read

The Future of Furniture Shopping – Could It Ever Be Completely Online?

Louise Lindberg headshot

by Louise Lindberg

We will never stop hearing “online” when talking about shopping, will we? But while some predict that all shopping will be online in the future, other industries still believe that the physical store will always play an important role in the shopping journey. Buying furniture is one example – could you imagine doing it completely online?

Furniture is probably not the most convenient product to order online. It’s often big, heavy and hard to imagine in your own living room from just seeing a picture. But, as in many other industries, companies have made it pretty easy to shop for furniture online. Customers receive assistance with getting the pieces through the door, and some companies even make it possible to furnish your home with their products before you order! This is done on your mobile phone through a camera lens of course, but anyways.

Are convenient shipping and modern AR technology going to end an era of shopping for furniture in person? Even though online shopping in the furnishing segment is increasing, merchants don’t believe that physical stores will lose their place in the shopping journey any time soon.

The Norwegian furniture merchant Bohus is launching different services to make it possible for their customers to visualize products in their homes. The latest launch was an online “cabinet maker” where, thanks to AR technology, customers can build their own furniture online.

“It’s a really exciting project and technology will be a big part of the customer journey. At the same time, I think people will still want to touch and feel the product before buying it. It’s hard to feel a sofa’s comfort via technology, so we’re convinced that physical stores will be central for many years going forward”, says Stian Berntzen, who’s in charge of e-commerce at Bohus.

So are we going to see furniture stores becoming more and more like showrooms? Outi Lahtinen, who is the Head of Marketing at Finnish furniture retailer Vepsäläinen, believes so.

“Even if we see the biggest growth online, I still believe that the physical store will play an important role in the future. Stores will provide customers with inspiration and the ability to try the products that they want to buy. Having a physical store is also a vital part of building a good relationship with customers”, says Outi Lahtinen.

Sunday 9 PM – time to shop for some furniture?

The most popular time to buy a piece of furniture online is Sunday between 9 and 10 PM, according to statistics from Klarna*. One conclusion we could draw from this data is that consumers go to physical stores during the weekend, to look at and feel the furniture they’re interested in. After some consideration, they make their final decision at home on Sunday evening and order the products online.

So, these results align with the theory of furniture stores being more like showrooms. The Swedish CEO at Svenssons i Lammhult, Jörgen Bitzekis, sums it up quite well.

“Going forward, the buying journey will start with customers doing research online, then visiting a store, and then comfortably finishing the purchase at home. Almost every customer that comes to us has been on our website first. Furniture shops, apart from IKEA, have always been more showroom than store and I feel like that trend is continuing, but with an added pressure on fast deliveries”, says Jörgen Bitzekis.

Another distinct change that has reached the furnishing industry is that purchases on mobile are taking over. Since last year there has been a shift; mobile has become the most used device, now accounting for 51 percent of purchases.

As furniture shopping goes mobile, the pressure to provide an easy online shopping experience increases. In the Nordics, almost half of furniture retailers have Klarna at their checkout. Klarna is helping merchants to give their customers a fast and hassle-free checkout with its smoooth payments. When paying with Klarna, consumers are able to pay in installments – interest-free. This solution can be quite useful when it comes to large purchases like pieces of furniture.

“Purchases are no longer made in a physical store, they’re done in peace at home. This puts higher demands on clear information, convenient deliveries and giving customers the possibility to choose how and when they want to pay for their purchases”, says Mattias Ekman, Senior Commercial Manager at Klarna.

To sum it up, there are three key points for furniture merchants to have in mind:

  • A user-friendly online store with a broad offering
  • A physical store that acts more like a showroom
  • Provide customers with a hassle-free checkout and convenient deliveries.