A comprehensive guide to starting a thriving online furniture store

The US furniture business is worth over $300 billion as of 2018, and you can get yourself a piece of this pie. Many people are not turning to online shops for their furniture needs. If you want to start selling furniture, here is a guide to set you off on the right footing.

Find an e-commerce platform or website builder

To start a professional-looking, rewarding store that will give you a good corporate image, you need to select an e-commerce platform to host your store. You are probably wondering why you cannot just set up on Craigslist or eBay. These sites are great too, but only for one or two sales. To save money and time, and be able to manage your store conveniently, an e-commerce platform is a much better choice. They have specially designed features for payment processing, inventory management, accounting, social media marketing, among others. The finest e-commerce website builders, such as Shopify, Wix, and BigCommerce are explicitly made for businesses like yours. Though they charge a monthly fee, the discounts they offer on shipping and benefits like little to no listing and transaction fees will go a long way in sustaining your profits.

How to select an e-commerce website builder

When choosing an e-commerce builder to sell online, consider factors like how easy the site builder is to use depending on your level of tech expertise, your budget, inbuilt sale features, and design flexibility. The best site builder should also be safe for online payments and offer reliable customer service.

Select and pay for a monthly plan

You may be tempted to select a free site builder, but to stand out online and have a better image paid plans are the way to go. Not only are they more professional, but also offer you more features to start and grow your online business, like abandoned cart recovery, multichannel selling, unlimited products, and others. Below are the monthly charges billed annually by Wix e-commerce, Shopify and BigCommerce:

Shopify Basic: $29.99

BigCommerce standard: $29.95

Wix E-commerce: $20

These plans offer you everything you need to get your online furniture store off the ground. As your business grows, you can upgrade to the top tier plans offered by respective platforms for more functionality.

Choose your domain name

Your domain name will be your store’s website address; it is the name your customers will remember your site by. For better results and image, choose a simple, relevant and short name without hyphens or numbers. Domain names are not free, but they will help your site rank higher on search engines and earn trust from your prospective customers. As soon as you choose a perfect, catchy name, register it and connect it to your site.

Choose a theme or template

Your template defines what your site's layout will look like; how images and widgets are arranged on your screen. Other characteristics of a theme include images, texts, fonts, buttons, headings, and galleries. Shopify, BigCommerce, and Wix all let you preview your themes, so take advantage of that. Be sure to choose a theme in the furniture category, and most importantly, ensure that the theme is mobile friendly.

Add your furniture to your store

Here, you get to show off your furniture to your potential customers. Use compelling product descriptions; color, weight, wood quality, design, and other important furniture characteristics that your customers would want to know.

Have a professional photographer take high-quality images of your furniture with a steady camera. Grainy, dark images will significantly undermine your sales and ruin all the efforts you’ve put in. Multiple, bright images taken from all angles will do the trick.

Categorize your furniture to add some degree of organization and a search criterion for your customers. All e-commerce platforms have categories in place to ease categorization, and allow you to place your furniture in different categories at once, like ‘best selling’ ‘furniture,’ and ‘bedroom furniture.’ For more tips to sell your furnitures online, click here.

Set a reasonable price

The most important thing is never to undersell or oversell your products. Both errors will have severe consequences on your business and your chances of making sales. Consider the quality, material, and time taken to finish them before setting the price. Are there any second-hand items? What condition are they in? All these are critical factors to consider. The most sure-fire way to set the best, competitive prices is to check other online furniture stores for the prices they have set. This research will also help you gauge your competition. Setting competitive prices enables you to drive sales and keep your inventory moving. However, be sure that the price also caters for other store overheads. Display your price tag clearly, complete with all other allied costs to help your customer make an informed purchase decision.

Configure your payment facilities

You need to select and add a credit card and other payments’ processing services. All e-commerce platforms make debit and credit card payments convenient and fast for your clients. The most popular gateways to check are PayPal, Square, Amazon Pay and Apple Pay. You can incorporate multiple options for your site for further convenience. Always check your site for PCI compliance. This makes them accredited for credit card payments and also ensures that all your clients’ transactions are safe. Moreover, with PCI compliance, you do not have to worry about any legal ramifications. Also, check for an SSL security certificate, which further secures all online payments. Another advantage of having paid e-commerce plans is that most of these provide an SSL certificate for free.

Set up your shipping arrangements.

Before you get your store up and running, sort out your shipping. Get a shipping origin address from where to ship, and calculate your taxes and quotes, and figure out your shipping zones; whether you'll be shipping locally, nationally or internationally. Also consider different shipping methods, the best being couriers like UPS, DHL, UPS, and USPS.

Conclusion

With all these essential functions sorted out, you can test and launch your store. Be sure that all the tools and features work, then launch and promote your store.

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