Product information management: Digital furniture storage: Product information alone is no longer enough
More and more consumers do not want to forego the advantages of online shopping when buying furniture: 24/7 opening times, an almost unlimited selection of products, good comparability and access to offers regardless of device and location. But so that the industry can keep up with this development, furniture retailers and manufacturers must provide their (potential) customers with useful and consistent information at all touchpoints and offer them an outstanding shopping experience. How this works is explained by guest author Manuel Dirnhofer from the software provider Contentserv.
Buying furniture without having seen, measured and touched it live was unthinkable a few years ago. However, today consumers are increasingly being inspired by digital product presentations – whether in the shop or even on Instagram and Pinterest.
The aim must now be to combine online and offline and to inspire customers at the POS, in the web shop as well as in social media. This requires consistent product and marketing information on all channels, answers to all questions related to the purchase decision, as well as attractive and clear product presentations.
© IMAGO / Panthermedia
E-commerce is a key driver of sales growth in the furniture industry.
There can only be one data source
Data silos are the enemy of cross-channel product information. The solution is a Product Information Management (PIM) system in which the data from all relevant sources flow together. These include the ERP or merchandise management system, the product lifecycle management (PLM) software and the application used for supplier handling.
We recommend combining the PIM system with a digital asset management (DAM) solution. Then the corresponding media files are already assigned to the respective articles at the base. In this way, companies prevent images, videos, text modules, etc. from being stored multiple times, because they are stored in different systems, and inconsistent or even incorrect information is communicated to the outside world.
With a central system, data can be maintained very efficiently because it only needs to be updated at one point. If, for example, a furniture manufacturer converts the locking technology of the drawers to Soft-Close-Automatic for its entire collection, it supplements the product information with corresponding text modules in the PIM system. This information appears immediately in the item description in the online catalog and is available to the sellers in the entire branch network in the internal ordering system.
Cross-product data can also be harmonized via the PIM system, for example if the general delivery times of a manufacturer change.
For furniture manufacturers who sell their products not only in the DACH region, it is also an enormous relief if they only have to adjust the descriptions and text modules in the system once. With the appropriate software, new languages can also be added at any time.
© IMAGO / Westend61
Even when it comes to furniture, online customers now expect an experience shopping experience. This includes animations, videos or even background music for the visit to the webshop.
Emotions as the icing on the cake
The mere product information on a piece of furniture, such as dimensions, material or shape, is usually not enough to persuade online customers to buy. High-quality images, animations, videos and even musical accompaniment for the visit to the webshop are crucial.
These digital assets make the virtual furniture tangible and provide the decisive emotional component. They are also in demand at the POS in order to present a different version of an exhibit to the customer. It is therefore imperative that all product information is available to the seller in digital form.
Nothing beats target group-specific information
The quality and availability of product information are important prerequisites for marketing communication in order to create tailor-made campaigns and purchase recommendations for each target group. For example, a customer who bought a baby high chair two years ago receives automated advertising for the new children’s room collection. In addition to product information, the furniture retailer also uses data from other systems, such as the ERP or CRM system. For furniture manufacturers, on the other hand, target groups such as business partners and service providers are important. Whilst the wholesaler is interested in all sales-relevant data, the fitter needs the detailed assembly instructions.
Symbiosis of online and offline
E-commerce in the furniture industry continues to pick up speed. Stationary furniture stores also benefit from this – if they manage to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitization and inspire their customers with an individual customer journey. This includes providing them with consistent and relevant information. At any time, on all channels.
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