Jacek Polkowski

Head of Marketing Research & Business Insights

Inspirations on portals in the furniture industry - buying the interior look

Undoubtedly, inspiration is the engine of the furniture industry. Providing our clients with a rich stock of ready-made arrangements, we give not only a valuable source of inspiration and ideas (appreciating the customer's gratitude), but also increase sales.


Furniture and interior design are among those industries whose marketing relies heavily on visual communication. A brand operating in this business must convince the customer that their products will build the desired atmosphere for the home and provide a dream decor. A sufficiently large photo gallery on the online portal is an essential tool to achieve this goal.

However, it should not be limited to images of individual products. The client should be provided with a wealth of ready-made interior designs, which will serve as a valuable source of inspiration not only in terms of style or color, but also the selection of specific products. Most people planning to renovate or equip their home begin their shopping path just by looking for inspiration. Even those clients who have clearly defined expectations also need insight from the network, for example to find out what offers available on the market meets their needs or to verify their own ideas with current trends.

At the stage of looking for inspiration, not only is the client's vision focused on the way the interior is installed, but also the choice of specific products, brands or sellers is very often made. To a large extent, it is a game of emotions based on aesthetic impressions. When the client sees a picture of a beautiful interior, perfectly matching his ideas about his own home, he will certainly be interested in the products used in the arrangement. That is why it is so important to get the attention and interest in the offer at the stage of looking for inspiration in the client's consciousness. There are many aspects to keep in mind.

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Customer Journey in furniture industry

Interior design inspirations are not dependent on the business model

It is not important whether we sell interior design products to the end customer in the B2C model, we equip companies or hotels with office and reception furniture, we cooperate with a network of distributors in the B2B model, or we execute orders of carpenters and architects in the B2B2C model. In each of these cases, in addition to the product catalog, we should provide our clients with appropriate inspiration, thus increasing their willingness to choose our brand.

The decision about the choice of specific products is not made by robots or computer programs. They are always people who have specific habits and shopping experiences. When choosing furniture for the needs of your company, you follow operating schemes similar to those used when making private purchases. So the consumer looks through market offers, looks for inspiration and chooses those products that attracts their attention to the most.
 

Inspirations are not only for brands with a wide range of products

Many brands that offer only one category of products, such as sofas, make a mistake, completely giving up inspiration and focusing exclusively on providing high quality photos of the individual furniture. All available market research points to the fact that displaying furniture in various contexts (arrangements) and comparing it with other attractive products (even if they are not the subject of the offer), significantly increases the customer's propensity to buy and increases the conversion rates. It is a magic of inspiration that should simply be used.

Women decide about interior design

This is a truth confirmed by numerous studies. It is more ladies than men who are interested in design and interior design, and thus are mainly looking for inspiration and ideas. They are not interested in the technical parameters and drawings, but are attracted to the visual message. For the brand it means the necessity to use an appropriate form of communication, in which the emphasis is put on the lifestyle message, straight from the world of fashion. In practice, this manifests itself, among others a specific language using phrases like: "season", "SS18 collection", "Spring / Summer Trends", "Lookbook" or "Mood board". Such language is accompanied by carefully selected visual messages in the form of great photographs depicting captivating interior arrangements and framed details of beautiful products.

Customers have different expectations regarding inspiration

One plans to equip a new home from scratch, having a large budget, and secondly intends to make changes in his living room, but would not want to go bankrupt from this. A common mistake is to forget about the people whose plans for renovation are limited. It is worth to offer them a different kind of inspiration - to show the spectacular effects of metamorphoses achieved with small expenditures. In this respect, online stores should follow the example of interior design magazines and television programs, which have long noticed that the most desirable message are stories about housing transformations of ordinary Poles.. Unfortunately, it is still difficult to find such content on the websites of Polish furniture chains. Meanwhile, the Western players to successfully exploit the potential of this type of inspiration, especially in the way they create a significant trend in the seasonal changes in interior design. For this reason, on portals of western brands, we can find entire sections devoted to fast and low-cost variations of rooms. Much of this type of inspiration is also included within the blogs of individual brands.

Photo arrangements must be associated with specific products

Inspiration will not be worth anything if the customer can not easily find out which products were used in the interior. This is not obvious to everyone. Without any problem we can find many examples of online stores (and often well-known brands) in the global network, where the photos of the arrangements are not accompanied by even brief information about the furniture or accessories used.

Very often an error is made involving sending the customer back to the entire product category, instead of to the cards of individual products. For example - in the picture of a beautifully decorated room the client sees a modern 2-seater sofa. In the accompanying description there is a link, but when it is clicked, it is directed to the category of "Sofas" with the "2-passenger" and "modern" sorting keys set. In order to find a piece of furniture that has been found earlier, the customer has to search the entire offer in a given product category. It's hard to call it a positive experience.

Meanwhile, proper tagging of the product in the picture and linking it to the product card brings surprising results. For example - the American online store Dormify.com "revived" photos in their shopping guides, placing interactive product tags on them. In a short time they recorded an increase in the conversion rate by as much as 281 percent. The average time spent on the website increased by 259 percent, and the number of pages visited during a single visit (one session) increased by 225 percent.

Inspirations must not only be collected in a separate section

It may sound strange, but more often interior design inspiration on e-commerce websites begin to go beyond the area of the inspiration section. Market leaders understand that the product is a key element that is influencing the customer's purchasing decisions. You do not need to limit them to a separate area but to allow the customer to discover them in different places on the brand’s portal.

Photos from satisfied customers provide inspiration

The use of images from satisfied brand customers on e-commerce websites has become increasingly popular in the West. Practically all the market leaders do it. On their online stores, they create separate photo galleries in which they only publish photos from customers that are made available, among others, via social networks. Tools dedicated to this search on Instagram or Facebook, find photos marked with appropriate hashtags, support the process of obtaining permission from their authors, and then allows linking these photos with the appropriate products, and then publishing them on the brand’s website.
 

The article appeared in the monthly "MEBLARSTWO Komponenty i Technologie" in the issue of 2018/6 on pages 13-15