Competing with Furniture Delivery Giants for SMBs & Services

Competing with Furniture Delivery Giants for SMBs & Services
Featured image credit: AndreyPopov/iStockphoto.com

It’s no longer unheard of for someone to buy a dining room set online. According to a recent report, furniture and home furnishing sales accounted for almost 12.9% of the total retail eCommerce sales in the US. And, in 2018, retail eCommerce revenue from home furnishing and furniture amounted to $65.1 billion; this is expected to increase to almost $100 billion in 2022.

However, regardless of the size of furniture items bought online, the customers expect fast deliveries, cheap shipping options, and seamless shipping experience. For example, one research report indicates that free shipping is the most crucial factor when shopping online for nine out of 10 customers. Also, almost 93% of customers are encouraged to buy more items online if free shipping options are available. Meeting (and exceeding) customers’ expectations matters because the online furniture market is one of the fastest-growing eCommerce segments worldwide.

Yet, such expectations for fast and free online deliveries didn’t come out of the blue. They are the byproducts of e-commerce giants who tried to entice customers by promising same-day furniture delivery and free shipping options. Needless to say, it is feasible for giants like Amazon to make and fulfill such tall orders, without any extra shipping costs. But, how can small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) provide the same fast, cheap, and reliable deliveries without breaking the bank?

Before we discuss the strategies implemented by SMBs, let’s first understand the challenges they are facing.

Challenges Faced by Small Furniture Delivery Companies

Why do SMBs face so many challenges in getting heavy items like home furnishings and furniture delivered? There’s a lot more involved in getting that sofa or dining room set to the customer’s doorstep and assembled in a room of the customer’s choice. Just consider: if a single furniture delivery driver can’t find the front door of a customer when delivering a wristwatch, he can simply walk around looking for it; whereas two delivery men would have to go out to deliver a sofa and both would have to carry the sofa around.

The next big problem is assembling the items. Some furniture items need to be assembled and the packaging debris removed. And, considering the shortage of drivers in the logistics industry, it is a challenge to find skilled drivers who are willing to drive, install, and assemble the items, while ensuring pleasant customer experience.

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How Can SMBs Compete?

As the manager of an SMB, you are fully aware of the customers’ expectations and how giants like Amazon are leaving no stone unturned to offer the best possible experience in terms of speed and price. Still, there’s plenty of room to improve the customer experience in the online home furnishings and furniture delivery market. Luckily, you can take advantage of this opportunity to beat the giants at their own game.

Here are some of the things that customers who frequently purchase furniture items online would expect from you:

  • Choice: More choice for bulky furniture delivery options.
  • Tracking: Accurate parcel tracking and, if possible, push notifications on furniture delivery statuses.
  • White glove service: This feature offers better furniture delivery service for bulky or expensive furniture that cannot be dropped off at the doorsteps. In addition to delivery, this feature also provides installation or set up.

So, how can you implement these changes to improve the delivery experience?

Provide Insurance to Cover Furniture-related Damages

Though your teams will always put in their best efforts to ensure the safe delivery of products, accidents happen. Ensure your customers that their purchase is insured. Also, provide a web link or a place for customers to find details about what the coverage includes and who to contact for help if required. Also, when accidents happen, act promptly and professionally to address the problem; customers tend to be more forgiving if they see you making a genuine effort in resolving the issue.

Offer Personalized Customer Service

Most eCommerce giants thrive by offering low prices and tremendous selections. If you try to beat their prices, you may just lose money. Instead, focus on engaging with your customers in ways that bigger businesses cannot. Poor customer experience is a big reason why some avoid shopping with small brands. So, the more personalized service you offer, the greater the edge you will gain over competitors.

Invest in Technology

Investing in automation and optimization technologies is an effective way for SMBs to compete with the eCommerce heavyweights. A delivery route planner armed with advanced route optimization features can, for instance, help you create well-optimized delivery routes for your drivers in less than a minute, reduce costs, improve driver productivity, stay compliant, and provide accurate furniture delivery status information to customers.

Offer Real-Time Order Tracking

Customers don’t want to wait around for their online deliveries to arrive. So, updating and notifying them about any expected delays will help you improve your customer experience. By using a route planning software with a GPS tracking feature, you can ensure that the ETAs you share with your customers is always accurate. The GPS tracker will also help you ensure the drivers stick to their routes and stay on schedule. Investing in such an advanced route planner will also help you minimize operational inefficiencies through features like eSignature, reporting and analytics, weather map layers, and telematics gateway.

Conclusion

While giants like Amazon are continually pushing the eCommerce delivery game, there’s still no clear winner in the heavy items delivery game. For SMBs, delivering large furniture items doesn’t have to be an unsolved puzzle. Those who figure out how to minimize costs and maximize speed will win the hearts and minds of customers and be the most competitive with their peers.

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