How to sell furniture online

Earning money from selling furniture online depends on the right product range and a well-thought-out marketing strategy. A business plan will identify the strengths and weaknesses of your idea before you start your business. Traditional online shops are not the only sales channels.

The furniture market is fiercely competitive and full of potential

Anyone looking for furniture online will quickly come across the top dogs who seem to dominate the entire market. These furniture companies have a large online presence and a network of shops so that interested customers can look at the sofa or bed, feel it, and sit or lie on it before buying. While the market is highly competitive, it’s not saturated. You’ll need the right niche and a perfect online service to be competitive in this industry. Find out what that means in our step-by-step guide.

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Advantages of selling your furniture online

Selling your furniture online has some advantages over an offline startup:

  • You can start small and you don’t have to fill a space from the beginning. This not only saves time, but also costs.
  • You will reach a larger target group geographically than if you were only represented by one shop in a specific area.
  • You can try out new things more easily. This applies to the introduction of a new product as well as marketing strategies or services.
  • You have flexibility with how much time you invest in your business and where you work from.
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Requirements when selling furniture online

As with any startup, you must complete some formalities when selling furniture online. For example, you should register your business and decide on a legal structure for your online shop prior to going live. It is also advisable to inform yourself about business insurances as well as accounting and taxes.

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A step-by-step guide for how to sell furniture online

How can you have a successful start in the furniture business? We’ll tell you step by step how to hit the ground running. The points we have outlined do not necessarily have to be completed in order; they are mutually dependent. Once you have looked into each point, you should create a business plan. Your business plan is the master plan which compares your idea with reality. It documents opportunities and risks which you may be planning to use or avoid. They are also used when presenting your idea to investors and possible trading partners.

Step 1: Product planning

You should decide on the product range before starting your company. It is best to find a niche so as not to be in competition with well-known furniture shops. For example, your speciality could be used furniture, self-made unique pieces or particularly elegant seats and tables.

You should also consider where the furniture comes from. Do you manufacture the furniture yourself or do you buy it in? This affects pricing, delivery times, the need for a warehouse, the type of shipping and marketing.

Step 2: Market and target group analysis

Examine the entire furniture market and your niche. What suppliers are there online and offline? How do they communicate? What is the pricing like? Carry out a detailed market analysis and figure out where there is still untapped potential and where you could have an advantage over your competitors.

The target audience is closely related to the market. Decide which audience you want to reach. Important characteristics are age, financial situation, and values.

Step 3: Company profile

When you know who you want to sell furniture to, it’s time to get started with the business aspect. Firstly, you should look at your competencies, strengths, and weaknesses. This will determine the business structure, i.e. whether you work alone, or whether you need to hire staff or find trade partners. Secondly, you should think about the type of communication, whether you want an online service and your image.

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Step 4: Marketing

Having your own online shop is a good idea if you want to sell furniture online. However, there are alternatives to an online shop, for example, selling on Instagram, other social networks or established online marketplaces. We’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these sales channels in detail below.

Think about where you want to sell products online and how you want to sell them. You need to promote your website. It may be worthwhile to implement targeted online marketing. For example, place ads on Google, send newsletters or launch campaigns on Facebook and Instagram.

Tip

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Step 5: Logistics

Logistics should be well thought out since furniture is usually a large product. If you want to store and ship the furniture yourself, you need a lot of space, know-how and manpower. It is often easier to use a dropshipping provider, who will take over storage and shipping.

Step 6: Costs and financing

You will need capital to starting an online furniture business. There are different types of costs:

The initial costs required for a startup may range from the fees for registering your business to the expenses for setting up your online shop with WordPress or another system. The operating costs include the expenses for running the shop. This can be hosting fees, fees for product photography and uploading new products to the system.

The expenses are offset by revenues. You can calculate prices for individual items and project future sales. A profit forecast highlights how and when you will generate profits from your furniture shop.

There may be a financing requirement depending on the capital requirements and the available equity capital. You may need an investor, or you may have to take out a loan from a bank. This makes the business plan interesting for outsiders.

Where to sell furniture online

There are three ways to sell your furniture online. You do not have to choose one; combining several channels usually leads to more success.

Your own online shop offers the greatest flexibility in terms of presentation and sale. However, there is more effort required and the likelihood of errors increases if you do not have sufficient technical and design understanding.

Online sales platforms are a good alternative. The infrastructure is already in place and there are professionals who can support you in case any problems arise. However, there are creative limits, and you must pay a commission for each sale. The largest online selling platforms include Amazon and eBay.

The third option for selling furniture online is social selling. This involves selling directly on Facebook, Instagram, etc. There are also creative limits on social media, but it’s easier to engage with the target group and build branding and brand loyalty.

Tip

We’ll instruct you on how to sell jewellery online and tell you what is important when selling art online through your own shop or using social media.

Advantages and disadvantages of different sales channels

Advantages Disadvantages
Online shop
  • Maximum flexibility in presentation and product
  • Can be scaled at any time
  • Easy to link with other channels
  • Data is stored by you or on a secure server
  • Initial expenses are comparatively high
  • Requires basic e-commerce knowledge
Online marketplaces
  • Existing infrastructure and reach
  • Lower time expenditure
  • Logistics and marketing strategies available
  • No technical know-how necessary
  • Contact person in case of problems
  • Data is on foreign servers
  • Technical limits set by the operator
  • Commissions on sales
  • High competition
Social selling
  • Existing infrastructure and reach
  • Lower time expenditure
  • No technical know-how required
  • Specialised in online marketing
  • Very precise targeting possible
  • Not suitable for all target groups
  • Data is on third-party servers
  • Technical limits set by the operator
  • High competition

Content is king when selling furniture online

Selling furniture is not just about the facts, it’s also about a lifestyle and a feeling. There is no option to touch a table or lie down on the sofa to try it out when shopping online, therefore, high-quality images and descriptive texts are critical to your success.

When it comes to product photography, don’t just provide basic images, include soft furnishings and ambience, i.e. a decorated table or a freshly made bed. You can also optimise SEO for images. Facts are important, preferably listed, but the mood and feeling should also be conveyed. In your own online shop, you can use product descriptions, as well as category pages for information. This content is also suitable for targeted search engine optimisation.

Tip

If you are passionate about photography as a hobby, you should consider selling your photos online.

Conclusion on selling furniture online

You need the right product to be successful in the online market for furniture. It is a good business move to have a niche specialisation or product. It may be difficult to compete with the furniture giants and their product range otherwise. A carefully prepared business plan highlights the opportunities in the market, which target group is most profitable and how you should design your furniture business. Central topics are logistics, sales, and marketing. An online shop offers the most flexibility and freedom. It is possible for new entrants to sell furniture online thanks to website builders and other tools. Social selling and selling on online marketplaces can also be beneficial.