Consumers who are shopping for furniture are increasingly researching their potential purchases online and visiting the store less than just a few years ago. In 2006, people who were shopping for durable goods would visit brick-and-mortar stores five times – but in 2016 they were making just two visits, according to research by Google. As a result, a showroom that’s buzzing with activity during peak shopping times can become a business wasteland during quiet times. But your showrooms are essential to your furniture business. How else can customers find out how comfortable that mattress is, or what it feels like to sit at that dining table? Motivating consumers to visit your furniture stores during off-peak hours is the key to creating a vibrant atmosphere and increasing showroom sales. Here is our advice on how to entice customers to your store and boost off-peak sales.
1. Engage customers online
You know your potential customers are connecting online and through social media – that’s where they are researching your products, after all. So why not connect with them on their channel of choice to encourage them to visit your stores instead? Use social media to engage with existing and potential customers and spread the word about your business. Invite customers to post photos of the furniture they have bought and ask them what they’d like to see in the showroom – then reward them with a gift that they need to collect from the store. Create special in-store offers during off-peak times to draw more customers in. It could be as simple as a free gift for store visitors or a cup of coffee on one of your sofas on weekday mornings. Sites like Facebook and Instagram are great places to post photos that promote new ranges too. Emphasize elements of the furniture that can only be experienced in-store, like the comfort levels of a lounge suite, the luxurious feel of the fabrics used or a vibrant color palette that a screen can’t do justice to – and then invite shoppers to see for themselves.
2. Create unique in-store events
Inviting customers to exclusive in-store events is a great way to get them into your store during off-peak times. Ask local experts to lead lunchtime discussions about anything from home décor to literature or local history. Hold a charity coffee morning or cake sale – or allow a local community group to hold one in-store. Invite local groups, such as book clubs or parent and toddler groups, to hold a recruitment event in the store so potential new members can come along for a chat. You could even host a fashion show for a neighboring clothing store, showcasing their new collection among your own furniture displays. In a furniture store, events like these can be a great way to allow customers to experience the items you sell, whether they’re relaxing on a comfortable sofa in front of a beautiful coffee table or having a discussion around a kitchen table. To build momentum for your brand, invite local press and bloggers to cover your events and encourage guests to share their photos and experiences on social media. If you can, ask your guests to register for each event. This way you will easily be able to can keep in touch to ask for feedback and ideas about future events, and to send them exclusive invites and offers based on their interest. Selecting a store management system that also includes a ticketing and reservation solution can be the key ingredient for planning successful events – and when the reservation part is already in your system, you save the time needed to research and integrate third party solutions. When events, inventory and financial management are all managed in the same system you can easily see how successful each activity was in helping to boost sales, and use that knowledge to plan future projects.
3. Use storefront displays to divert passers-by
Your shop window is the perfect medium to create a big, bold and unique statement that brings passers-by into the store. Think about the age, interests and aspirations of your customers and create a display that will intrigue, fascinate and enchant them. Use choice pieces of furniture and create a scene around them to pique the interest of passers-by. It could be a dinner party scene that suggests sumptuous dishes and good company, a soirée with ambient lighting and luxurious textiles, a child’s bedroom with ingenious storage and play solutions – even a scene from a popular film. Put the focus on lifestyle with tantalizing glimpses of the furniture, so consumers are drawn into the store to find out more. Change the display at regular intervals to keep interest building. If your windows capture people’s imagination, even those who don’t walk in might post a photo on social media to tell others about what you’re doing.
4. Become the go-to place for furniture advice
During off-peak hours, one luxury you have is more time to spend with customers who visit the store – so make sure you offer personal advice to people who visit during those times. Invite questions on social media, and then follow up with an invite to the store where you can demonstrate what you’re talking about. Offer one-to-one demonstrations about wood and fabric care or trouble-shooting stains. Make your stores the go-to place for expert, personal advice about furniture. By engaging with customers and thinking creatively, you can make your furniture stores into hubs of off-peak activity that increase footfall and boost sales. Just set specific goals and timeframes for your ideas, so you can understand what works best and set yourself up for future success.