How to Set Up an Online Furniture Store

Selling furniture online can be a profitable proposition, as you are not required to invest heavily in setting up an online store. This Buzzle article will tell you how to set up an online furniture store.
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Tip to set up an online furniture store
Tip
While a customer is about to checkout, offer him/her more products, tagging them as "people who bought this also liked". This technique often works, and lures the customer to shop for more.
Selling furniture online has become a lucrative business as more and more customers are preferring to shop from the comfort of their home. There are many websites which offer competitive prices for the same brands of furniture. If you too want to capitalize on this business, you will have to first complete certain registration and licensing formalities. Ensure that you have a business name that would seem easy for customers to remember. Also, you will have to source initial funds for the business.

These days, resorting to crowdfunding for any online business venture is fast gaining in popularity. You will also have to prepare a business plan which will help you take the right decisions. However, in order to be successful in this business, you must know exactly how to initiate it. Hence, if you are planning to open an online furniture store, we will tell you how to go about setting it up.

Decide Furniture

Since there are numerous types of furniture in the market, you will have to decide the type of furniture you plan to sell. Apart from this, you will also have to decide if you intend to sell used or new furniture. There are online sellers who even auction antique and vintage furniture. Also, there are too many different pieces of furniture like couch, table, chair, shelf, recliners, bar stools, beds, bean bags, etc. While it is recommended that you concentrate on one type of furniture initially, you will still have to order separate pieces. For example, if you want to concentrate on wooden furniture, you will have to order tables, chairs, beds, etc., in multiple numbers.

Understand Market

Before venturing in this business you will have to carry out a thorough market research. Suppose you are going to sell home furniture, then you will have to understand who your target market is, its composition, the furniture items that rake in maximum sales, offers that entice the customers into making a buying decision, peak periods of business, etc. All this will help you get an insight into the furniture business. This will enable you to incorporate those furniture items that have a high demand and are appreciated by customers.

Sourcing Furniture

You will have to source furniture for your online shop. For this, you can either approach the brands directly or even tap wholesale furniture shops. With the growing popularity of e-commerce, large furniture brands will not be averse to offering furniture through your online shop. Also, such branded furniture is usually popular among customers, and you are bound to receive a favorable response for it. On the other hand, approaching wholesale furniture shops will prove to be extremely cost-effective, and you will be able to earn a good margin of profit over the sales.

Storing Furniture

Though you will save a lot of money by setting up a virtual store, you will have to hire a warehouse for storing the furniture. Furniture pieces are usually not small in size, hence, you will have to spend a considerable amount on hiring a large enough warehouse. You can approach wholesale shop owners or furniture brands to allow you to store furniture at their warehouses against a nominal cost. If this is not possible, you can have a direct arrangement with the vendor to dispatch the furniture from their storage to the customers as per the order. This way, you will be able to save on the cost of storing the furniture.

Website Development and Design

You will have to hire a professional website designer to develop your e-commerce website. Hire a person who has undertaken similar jobs in the past or else, it will take a long time before your website actually goes live. Study competitor websites, and understand the elements essential for an online furniture retail website. You will also have to make online catalogs for each product, providing photos of various views, materials used, dimensions, description, etc. You will also have to mention whether the product is available. Apart from that, have filters for color, brand, type, make, material, etc., so that customers will be able to get to the thing they are looking for in a matter of few clicks. You can even create a mobile app for your e-commerce website.

Shopping Cart Software

You will have to buy a shopping cart software for your website. There are many online websites which offer various packages. You can buy one which suits your budget. Many of these software are customizable, and you will be able to modify them to suit your business requirement. Since all the transactions will be handled electronically, you will not have to worry about manual errors. Also, it will auto generate an invoice when a customer places an order. Hence, you should not be apprehensive about investing in a good shopping cart software.

Promotion and Advertising

You must undertake various marketing and advertising activities to promote your business. Start pages for your business on various social media websites, and link them back to your business websites. Keep updating information and photos of your products, and new additions to keep the customers hooked to the pages. Invest in paid Facebook ads to reach out to your customers. Undertake Internet marketing and banners. Also, employ traditional means of advertising like print ads in newspapers and magazines, and radio sponsorships. Keep sending out press releases for any new achievement of your business.

Packaging and Dispatching

You will have to hire help for dismantling and packing the furniture pieces for delivery. This will be an added cost, hence, try to price the product accordingly. Also, you will have to tie-up with a good courier company who can deliver the furniture to the desired customer locations. Try to hire the same agency for both domestic and international dispatches. Also, as international shipments will increase your delivery expenses, it is advisable that you carry forward that expense in the form of additional fees.

Business Expansion

After successfully running an online furniture business, you can venture into other allied product lines like stationary, home decor, upholstery, bedding, etc. You can also venture into pet furniture business. Many people are searching for all these things when they move into a new house. People often like it when they find all that they need in a single store, and hence, this idea will definitely fetch good sales. Also, if you can start a chain of actual stores supplementing the online business, people will easily be able to identify with the brand. Prompt response to customer complaints and repairs will also help create trust among customers.

You will also need to...

... get an inventory software.

... upload your delivery, return, and refund policies on the Internet.

... introduce discount offers and schemes for customers.

... offer warranty with the furniture.

... host online auctions/bids to sell products at a good price.

It is vital to remember that online businesses are highly dependent on a positive image and reputation. Hence, ensure that you are not receiving negative reviews, as they can hamper your business. Also, employ SMS and email marketing to inform your existing customers about new products.
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Published: February 21, 2014
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