Guides & Advice

How to Sell Furniture Online: A Brief Guide for B2B Businesses

December 29, 2020 9 MIN READ
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Guides & Advice
How to Sell Furniture Online: Your Complete Ecommerce Guide
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Selling furniture online has been gaining momentum in the past years. According to Statista’s Digital Market Outlook,

  • In 2016, furniture companies had a website featuring merely their items catalog without any transactional functionality;
  • In 2019, global online furniture and homewares sales made $200 billion;
  • And by 2023, online furniture market volume is expected to reach $289.3 billion.

Out of these numbers, B2B sales represent the biggest market opportunity, currently making up 30% of total furniture industry sales.

Countries with the highest online sales of furniture
Source: Statista.

As a furniture industry manufacturer or distributor, you might naturally want to invest in ecommerce to fuel your B2B online sales. But if you still don’t have your online store, this article may set you off to a good start. Read on to learn how to sell furniture online without the hassle.

Estimate Your Furniture’s Value

First thing you need to do to start selling furniture online is to set the prices for your pieces. Here, you should keep in mind the timing and the condition of your furniture. 

The former factor is pretty clear: the sooner you want to sell a piece, the lower will be the price. It is a rare case that a customer will buy a used furniture piece for a 20-percent-off original retail price. Unless your piece is extremely valuable and you’re not in a rush to sell it, you might want to adjust the numbers to a lower rank.

The latter factor – that is pricing based on the condition and type of the furniture you sell – is subject to market trends.

For used furniture, the price dependson the age, condition, and of course, your time of sale (see the point above). Ramon Cacho, head of marketing at AptDeco, encourages listing used objects at about 20 – 50% of the original retail price.

For high-end furniture, a designer and market demands play a huge role in pricing. You can check the types of antique furniture values, but the best way to set the price for an expensive furniture piece may be to negotiate it with a buyer or an estate attorney. For example, KRRB sells antique furniture online at a price range from $800 (for lamps and small furnishings) to $10,000 (for large pieces).

Reupholstered Vintage Wingback Chairs listing on KRRB
Reupholstered Vintage Wingback Chairs listing on KRRB. Source: KRRB.

For custom-made furniture, the average costs in the US range from $1,123 to $4,176. The major factors influencing the price are the materials used, the size of a piece, and the amount of effort you’ve put to construct it. Sometimes, bigger cupboards and small shelves with intricate designs are sold for the same cost: the former requires more material, and the latter – more craftsmanship on your part as a furniture manufacturer.

When in doubt about how much your furniture should cost, it is always better to turn to a retail consultant or use an automatic Furniture Calculator.

Sort Out Your Shipping Settings

Shipping is of the utmost importance when you try to sell furniture online. The reason is quite obvious: your customers may have no idea on how to transport an enourmous powder-coated sofa or an over 100-year-old antique floor mirror. Some of the most common and reliable furniture shipping carriers in the US include DHL, UPS, and FedEx. Make sure that a courier can transport heavy items across long distances and offer proper packaging so as to preserve your object in perfect condition. 

Also, mind that 50% of shoppers will abandon their shopping cart if presented with unexpected costs, including shipping. So be explicit about your shipping charges or include them in the price of your item.

Approximate price of shipping by furniture type
Approximate price of shipping by furniture type. Source: Angies list.

Set Up the Payment Methods

This piece of advice is relevant to all ecommerce entrepreneurs, not only those who sell furniture online. Quick and easy checkout will keep your customers coming back, so make sure you provide them with an easy payment method. Use net banking, credit or debit card payments, PayPal, or payment-upon-receipt all to improve one’s shopping experience. If you’re setting an online method, ensure that the customers are safe and can identify the payment portals, thus, building trust towards your furniture brand.

Prepare to Promote Your Brand

Before actually selling furniture online, you should prepare the material describing your products to use it later in any marketing campaigns and on a website.

Take Pictures

Quality images are important when selling furniture online. To make your photos aesthetically worthy, clear the clutter on your item (especially, if you’re used furniture) and shoot in the daylight. This way, a buyer will be able to envision a piece in their setting without any distractions.

On the marketing side, be visual and include as many photos as possible to illustrate your listing. In his interview with Elle, a co-founder of AptDeco, Kalam Dennis, suggests,

“The more photos, the better. I recommend six photos from every angle, and they should be at eye level.” 

In short, make your images speak for your furniture brand.

Add a Clear Description 

Be short, accurate, and explicit about your listing’s condition. Ki Nassauer, the founder of Junk Bonanza, asks to include only the essential information about the listing, like the item’s manufacturer, age, size and dimensions. Unearth the answers your potential buyers are searching for: where did you get the piece, why you’re selling it, whether there are any scuffs not visible on the picture.

Don’t make the description too boring, though; your job is to keep the pitch concise but creative to make a lasting impression on the customer.

Example of an image and product description on AptDeco
Example of an image and product description. Source: AptDeco.

Be Honest

Don’t let your desire to sell furniture online ASAP affect your judgment. Indicate in which condition your piece is and if there are any scratches, blemishes, stains, tears, or dents. After all, the customers may not mind damage as long as you notify them about it upfront. 

Choose Where to Sell

B2B sales present a huge opportunity for furniture ecommerce. Unless you’re trying to declutter your home and sell your old furniture, selling on marketplaces and social media just doesn’t work for an online furniture business. What you need is a sound website that will allow you not only to present a catalog of your items but also to complete transactions, deliver an excellent customer experience, and compete with other sellers.

We suggest three ecommerce platforms that will allow you to build an online furniture store and scale your business in the future.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce will work best for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who seek quick launch and fast growth of their online business. It’s less flexible than other ecommerce platforms, like Magento, in terms of website customization features and integrated extensions. But it also offers many out-of-the-box solutions for your online business and does not require an IT team for website infrastructure and administration.

Sam’s Furniture & Appliances is a great example of an online furniture store running on BigCommerce. As a family-owned and operated business, Sam’s Furniture integrated a catalog with over 50,000 images and their point of sale software on BigCommerce, thus, improving furniture browsing and reducing the cost of website operation.

Example of a BigCommerce-based furniture store - Sam's Furniture & Appliances
Example of a BigCommerce-based furniture store. Source: Sam’s Furniture & Appliances.

Shopify

Shopify has two plans for businesses of varying scale: 

  • Shopify for SMEs and those who already work in retail but wish to enter the world of ecommerce. 
  • and Shopify Plus for enterprise-level businesses.

Both plans work in the same way, you just have to decide on the scale of your furniture business. The beauty of this platform lies in its flexibility and adaptability: you can add an unlimited number of items in your catalog, choose from 60+ website themes, and integrate 70+ various payment gateways including PayPal, Amazon Payments. 

Brosa has built its front-end on Shopify. Their furniture websites boast of minimalistic design and captivating CTA buttons that drive online shoppers into purchase.

Example of a Shopify-based furniture store - Brosa
Example of a Shopify-based furniture store. Source: Brosa.

Magento

Magento comes second in the top-10 rank of most popular ecommerce platforms, but its features are no worse than the ones of Shopify. It presents free and paid plans – Magento Open Source for SMEs and Magento Commerce and Commerce Cloud for big enterprises – and offers many website layouts fitting your aesthetic and technical needs.

What differentiates it from competitors, though, is that Magento is fully customizable – from A to Z. Want to add a form for your customer customize their furniture order? Or change your mini shopping cart layout? Or maybe build in multilingual support? With only a bit of coding, you can take advantage of its advanced functionality on your website.

Sunpan is an example of a Magento-based furniture store. Their website presents unique B2B functionalities, like changing items and shipping methods based on the customers’ location (Canada, the US, or international). Their products are updated in real time, and the customers can view their entire account history online.

Example of a Magento-based furniture store - Sunpan.
Example of a Magento-based furniture store. Source: Sunpan.

The Key Takeaway

Selling furniture online means taking advantage of the market opportunities and recent industry shifts in B2B sales. Many furniture manufacturers and suppliers acknowledge the importance of ecommerce. Still, they fail to present their customers with a proper online shopping experience, offering only the catalogs of items instead. 

This market gap may become a real game-changer for you and your furniture business. But which ecommerce solution will you choose to step up the game of B2B furniture sales?

Learn more about B2B ecommerce platforms in our related article:
Guides & Advice
B2B Ecommerce Platform: How to Choose the Best Solution For Manufacturers And Wholesalers

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