In this article, we will talk about the opportunities for growth and innovation in furniture and design industries.
Today, the environment in which the furniture and design sector is moving is complex. Although major trade fairs have been postponed, and many key market sectors, such as tourism and catering, are in difficulty, the rebound has been more positive than expected, especially as regards B2C.
Many entrepreneurs in the sector have said that - after the lockdown - they witnessed a flow of purchases 50% higher than the previous year.
Although this is good news, which demonstrates the industry's unwavering value, it is nevertheless necessary for companies to address the changes that have taken place in the last period, both for the B2C and - especially - the B2B markets.
In this article, we will tell you what are the best solutions to deal with the months and years ahead.
Online Lead Generation for B2B and B2C
As we said before, B2B sales to key furniture and design sectors are still in difficulty. Tourism, events, and catering were important items for the budget of many producers. Today these revenues have practically disappeared.
It is, therefore, necessary to find - with the courage to look in unexplored “places” - new sources of income.
Neosperience Customer Generator is the ideal tool to achieve this goal.
The platform allows sales and marketing departments to automate and optimize the search for new leads.
- Keeping note of identity, company, and other characteristics of those who visit social profiles (LinkedIn) and the company website.
- Analyzing their unique characteristics, such as interests and personalities (thanks to the Artificial Intelligence).
- Automating the search for people and companies potentially interested, such as sector influencers (architects, designers, etc.) or companies operating in the sectors of tourism, catering, construction, events, etc.
- Automating contact with these users and companies with personalized messages.
- Collecting all this information on a dedicated platform, easily integrated with the systems already in use by the company.
At the same time, the Neosperience Customer Generator allows you to implement the same dynamics also for a B2C audience; for this purpose, it is interesting to mention the possibility of finding and contacting people potentially interested on major social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, as well as LinkedIn.
Finding new sources of income has become essential: traditional lead generation strategies, such as participating in fairs to talk vis a vis with prospects, are no longer feasible. Sales and marketing departments must move their activities online, using a tool that allows them to achieve quality and efficient work, and that brings certain and measurable results.
The physical store
The physical store remains the most important touchpoint for the furniture industry. Being able to see and touch furniture and finishes is essential.
Today, the pandemic has forced brands to rethink the customer's visit to the store: it is essential to be able to offer safe experiences, but no less effective or engaging.
When customers decide to buy new furniture for their own home, they are emotionally involved: it is an important choice, which will accompany them for many years to come. In light of the moment we are experiencing, it is important to remember the value of this experience, so as not to betray the most intimate and authentic side of our customers.
The Neosperience People Analytics solution helps the sales network give the right weight to the customer experience, enhancing their purchasing behaviour, and ensuring that today's health regulations do not preclude the success of the Customer Experience.
How does it work?
The solution requires high-resolution cameras in the strategic points of the store. The recovered images are then analyzed by Machine Learning algorithms that allow you to highlight the behavior of visitors.
What information does it provide?
- How many people walk past the store
- How many people stop in front of the windows
- How many people go in and out of the store
- How people move around different areas of the store
- How customers behave, for example when interacting with products and promotions
- Whether or not people wear the mask, and whether or not they wear it correctly;
- If the maximum number of store presences has been reached;
- Possible assemblies.
Thanks to the data retrieved, the retailer is able to find out which products, promotions, showcases, and physical dispositions work - and which do not. As a result, he can change - for example - the layout of the store to meet the visitor's natural behavior.
In addition, real-time information on compliance with health regulations allows the store manager to intervene promptly to avoid situations of danger not appreciable for the customer experience.
Neosperience People Analytics can be implemented on its sales network or even in multi-brand stores.
Mixed Reality for Furniture and Design
As we have already said, the furniture sector must be able to make customers feel the products themselves. However, the majority of the public - at a pre-purchase stage - decides to inquire through digital channels.
Usually, after searching Google or browsing some design magazines, interested users inevitably end up visiting the brand's website, eager to see and learn more about the products. At that moment, on that touchpoint, the potential buyer makes a decision: go to the store to - perhaps - buy, or continue the search.
It is therefore essential that the brand offers an engaging and effective virtual product viewing experience, which stimulates the user's interest and convinces them to go to the store.
This is true for B2C, but also - especially today - for B2B markets.
The Salone del Mobile of Milan has been postponed until next year: many brands, large and small, have not been able to present their products. But there is a solution to this problem, and it's called Mixed Reality.
The term groups two technologies that are conceptually similar, but different as modes of use: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
The first uses a tool - the smartphone mainly - to position 3D models of objects, even animated, in the surrounding environment.
The second instead needs a dedicated viewfinder, which - once worn - projects the users into a totally virtual reality, where they can move freely and interact with the environment.
What are the applications of these technologies for furniture?
As Ikea Place has taught us over the years, there is no better tool than Augmented Reality to allow users to test how the furniture is positioned within living spaces. The success of the experience proposed by the Swedish giant demonstrates that the public is ready and wants such an offer.
Regarding Virtual Reality, this technology has proved particularly effective for B2B market. As we said, fairs and events are currently off-limits: why not offer buyers a virtual experience within the showroom?
By sending viewers directly to the interested agents, they can discover and interact with the new collections. Open a sofa bed to see what it's like inside? It can be done. Today, this technology has reached unimaginable levels of quality.
Enriching the pre-purchase stages has become essential.
The value of customer experience - now increasingly focused on digital - is the discriminator between success and failure.
Customer Data Platform
Without going into technicalities, in this section we will explain the benefits of adopting a Customer Data Platform (CDP) and implementing strategies to obtain personal information of users and customers.
Companies selling furniture, both B2C and B2B, often make a mistake: they forget to retrieve customer data.
As far as B2B is concerned, the motivation is only one: since medium-small buyers (architects, restaurateurs, etc.) turn directly to third parties, their data remain with retailers and do not arrive at the brand.
As for the B2C, on the other hand, in addition to the talk about retailers (equally valid), there is another very simple reason: those who buy a kitchen, sofa or toilet hardly repeat the purchase in the short or medium-term; for this reason, many companies decide not to retrieve the customers' data to contact and retain them. The common view is that this is too expensive and dispersive.
In doing so, however, the company misses an opportunity to establish a bond with the customer that, although perhaps not immediately, will undoubtedly bring advantages.
Let's imagine that a lawyer - an amateur but passionate cook - has to renovate his home. He shows up at a retailer and buys his dream kitchen. The brand retrieves the new customer's data asking him to activate the guarantee on the corporate website.
It then stores its data and inserts it into its Customer Data Platform.
A few days later the brand sends an email to the client offering him a discount on a cooking course.
After a month, however, it gives him a discount code for the purchase of professional cooking utensils.
The second month the brand writes to the client to invite him to participate in a contest: by filling out a questionnaire he can win a dinner cooked in his own home by a three-Michelin star chef.
As time passes, a link will be created between the brand and the user.
When the customer has to advise his friends about which kitchen to buy, he will advise his own. When he has to change the cuisine in the beach house, he will buy it from the same brand.
The same is true for B2B: perhaps the manufacturer in this case - after the purchase - will offer discounts for a partner's tiles, or to architects a masterclass with a famous international designer. The more benefits the brand offers, the more professionals will go back to buying.
In any case, creating a relationship with customers is what allows a company to grow over time, with the knowledge that it can rely on a solid base of enthusiasts.
This is precisely what the Customer Data Platform is for: to create relationships and make contact with the public easier, thanks to automation and customization, and to facilitate the management of customers and their data.
In short, for the furniture and design sector it is time to change some operational and strategic paradigms, to continue to grow and bring the quality of Made in Italy worldwide.
If you are interested in exploring the applications of Neosperience technologies in the sector, please contact us by clicking on the link below.