According to a recent Forrester Report, consumers are most likely to revisit e-tail sites that offer low delivery costs in addition to low prices. In another report by comScore, nearly half of respondents chose free shipping as the ‘most important’ service offered by online retailers.
Why? To put it simply - sticker shock. Customers on the cusp of a purchase will abandon a cart quicker than you can say ‘checkout’ when seeing the total skyrocket with added shipping charges. As a result, many retailers have begun appeasing consumer demands by incorporating free or reduced shipping.
Unfortunately for furniture retailers, simple mathematics show the benefits of closing a purchase do not outweigh the cost of shipping those big-ticket items cross country, particularly when offering low or reduced pricing on products. So while the rest of e-commerce is headed towards free shipping, furniture retailers find themselves yet again in a situation where they have to veer from the progressive norm.
Not being able to follow the e-commerce norm is the very reason why many people thought big-ticket items like furniture would never go online in the first place. But furniture has found a model online to be successful and once furniture shopping online catches up to the rest of e-commerce (which it will) we may have to face the facts that consumers will expect free shipping.
So what can furniture retailers do now to prevent shipping charges from impeding an online purchase?
First and Foremost, Location Is Key
Keep delivery costs down by only shipping products to locations within proximity to your stores and warehouses. This is why leading furniture retailers turn to us at Blueport Commerce, the e-commerce platform for the furniture industry, to localize furniture shopping online.
Second, Don’t Be Afraid To Over-Communicate
Small tweaks in communication may help mitigate the blow of sticker shock that leaves customers dubious of an online purchase:
- Educate your customers on your shipping process and what goes into the expense. Knowing shipping charges are comparable to in-store purchase delivery may help ease them into a purchase.
- Remind your customers throughout the process of these charges, such as a simple message telling them the product price does not include shipping and delivery charges.
Third, Get Creative About Your Promotions
If you do offer a promotion for free or reduced shipping, be sure to over-emphasize the offer. Because shipping is such an important part of the decision making process, plastering the offer throughout the purchase funnel, beyond the homepage, will help instill the value of the offer and urge customers to pull the trigger. Wayfair, for example, offers free front door delivery, but additional charges for in-house assembly.
While furniture may not be able to compete with the Amazon’s of the world when it comes to free shipping (yet), these simple tactics will help encourage buyers and ultimately help usher in the new era of shopping for furniture online. And, beyond free shipping, once consumers become even more accustomed to buying furniture online, the possibilities in this category are endless.
About Blueport Commerce
Leading furniture companies work with Blueport Commerce to capture the billion dollar furniture e-commerce opportunity. We marry our clients’ bricks-and-mortar infrastructure and expertise with our decade of online furniture experience, innovative technology, and customized marketing services. For some retailers, the Blueport e-commerce platform powers their branded omni-channel websites, driving sales online and in their stores. For other retailers, we drive online sales through Furniture.com, our e-commerce website. For many, we do both. Learn more here. And, if you’re interested in working for Blueport, check out our e-commerce jobs on our careers page.