The global pandemic provided the home furnishings industry with an unexpected boost. As people stayed at home, they spent disposable income on improving their living environments. In September 2020, U.S. shoppers spent $10.7 billion on home furnishings — a new record.
But following two years of supply chain disruption, shortages of raw materials, a housing recession and reduced consumer spending, how is the home furnishing industry shaping up in 2023?
Given the uncertain future, retailers want to know what they can do to best attract and retain their target customers. A Shopify survey found key trends shaping the home furnishing industry in 2023, and what you can do to follow them.
Online Furniture shopping
The global pandemic shook up shopping habits and consumer behavior. Forced to stay home, consumers turned to online shopping to purchase furniture for home offices and other living spaces. But the real question is whether these changes will outlive the COVID-19 pandemic.
So will customers continue to shop online for home furnishings in 2023 now that they have the choice of in-store and online shopping? In 2022, when it comes to purchasing furniture, consumers still prefer in-store shopping, with omnichannel shopping being the second most popular option.
According to another survey conducted in the United States, more than half of respondents (53 percent) reported that they shopped for furniture in-store.
In comparison, around 43 percent reported they shopped for furniture online: 25 percent opted for an ecommerce platform, while 18 percent opted for buying furniture directly on the brand’s website.
While consumers still choose physical stores to make furniture purchases, people are increasingly aware of the benefits of shopping online.
When asked about the main reasons for buying furniture online, 48 percent of respondents said ease of purchase. Free delivery was also a main driver for online purchases of furniture according to 31 percent of respondents.
Shoppers also cited lower prices (34 percent) and more available inventory (24 percent) as other reasons for purchasing furniture online.
AR & the Metaverse
Once a concept of the far-off future, augmented reality (AR) and the Metaverse are becoming popular ways for brands to showcase their products in a personalized way. Instead of relying on shoppers browsing generalized online images, videos and product descriptions, AR brings products to life in front of customers so they can visualize what they would look like in their home space.
Since many people prefer the physical experience of purchasing home furnishings products in-store, augmented reality can help bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping.
While AR remains a relatively new way to showcase products, consumers are showing a growing interest in the technology. According to a survey run by eMarketer, the majority of U.S. adults have used or are interested in using AR and VR while shopping –– particularly those in the 18 to 34 age group.
When asked what virtual experiences shoppers would most like to participate in during the holiday season, 29 percent of respondents said they’d like video consultations with personal shoppers.
Sofa in-a-box brand Snug uses a combination of Livestream shopping and virtual consultations to educate customers about its products. In the brand’s livestreams, Snug first provides a quick overview of its sofas and shows real people sitting on them in real time. A showroom consultant then virtually talks through the Snug range and helps customers compare different models.
Sustainable, Purpose-driven goods
Knowing how and where goods are produced has become increasingly important to customers. They’re not just interested in the final product they receive but also in the process that has gone into making the items.
In the past six years, there’s been a 71 percent increase in online searches globally for “sustainable goods,” especially in high-income countries like the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
But actions haven’t necessarily matched intentions — until now. In 2021, Shopify’s survey found that 44 percent of customers chose to buy from brands that have a clear commitment to sustainability, while 41 percent chose to buy from brands that have a clear commitment to social causes. Overall, the consumers we surveyed want brands to have “actions that match their values.”