Although the growth of the sector may have slowed, the market is still attractive for players who are already part of the industry, or those who want to join. Together with digital marketing agency, Mediaworks, we take a look at the digital forecast for the sector:

What are the external factors affecting the market?

In the digital age, what are some of the main external factors that are affecting the market?

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  • Increased mobile use — On average, customers swipe and tap their smartphones 2,617 times per day across around 150 sessions. Aside from finalising the transaction through their mobile, customers now do a lot of their research ahead of a purchase through their fingers too.
  • Further advances in mobile technology — Augmented reality, digital assistants (e.g Siri), location tracking, interpretation of voice commands, and the introduction of 5G are just some of the developments we can expect to see grow in the coming years.
  • The implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) act — This has affected how companies collect and store data, as well as how they plan to do this in the future.

What does consumer behaviour look like?

Customers in the homeware and home improvement sector are no different to other sectors’ customers in that they enjoy using mobile to find information. In fact, 43% of potential DIY or home improvement customers chose to research their products online before they made a purchase. Similarly, 45% of furniture and homeware customers followed suit.

Around 69% of an individual’s entire media time is spent on a smartphone. It therefore makes sense that purchases are made through this platform too. We’ve certainly seen a rise in the number of purchases that are made through the internet — in 2017, 53% of customers bought something on a mobile device (up 22% on 2015). And, with the introduction of 5G in the near future, which will improvements in terms of speed and connectivity, we could see this figure soar further.

Customers are impatient though. 53% of mobile visits are abandoned if a site takes three seconds or more to load, and just a one second page load delay can impact mobile conversions by up to 20%!

Around 69% of an individual’s entire media time is spent on a smartphone.

What should brands be doing to keep their customers?

Considering the external factors and the current behaviour of consumers, what should homeware brands be doing to maintain their customer base?

Although individuals enjoy purchasing online, they also like to feel valued and understood as customers. This is especially true for homeware customers who often still rely on physical stores to fully experience a product before buying. So, how can you bring the in-branch experience online? It’s all down to personalisation — achieved by gathering data at customer checkpoints and utilising this to create a tailored experience. In fact, 56% of customers are more likely to shop with a company that recognises them by name.

While you’re keeping your internet presence in check, don’t forget to value the customer experience. Research suggests that by 2020, the customer experience will overtake cost and product and will become the main reason that someone chooses to shop with one brand over a different one.

Optimise your site for search engines and mobile usage. As mentioned, slow-loading sites can be off-putting for customers and can impact your online sales — so, make sure that your site is mobile friendly. In addition to this, around 80% of voice queries are location-based, so ensuring that your site is optimised for local search is crucial. Know which location your customers are at too — use digital marketing to promote popular products to potential customers who are close to your physical stores.

Keep your social media up to date and have engaging content on-site to improve traffic. Social media is great for building up a following and connecting with your audience, but have you considered advertising through this channel too? The use of visual ads can grab your market’s attention, so put your product directly on their newsfeed, drive conversions and improve your brand exposure — don’t underestimate the power of social.

On-site, have engaging features such as video content. Did you know that video is one of the most consumed content types on mobile? In the homeware and home improvement sector, create videos of product reviews and demonstrations to grab the attention of your audience.

Create an app that accompanies your company and site. Out of a user’s entire media time on a smartphone, almost 90% of this is spent solely on apps. This is where virtual reality could also come in to the mix. IKEA, for example, have VR in their app so that individuals can see what different types of furniture will look like in their own home — could you implement something similar?

Think about the way that you’re handling data too and review your campaign performance. 50% of retailers say that they have a lack of data skills and capabilities when it comes to their business — don’t be in this half! Prepare for the transition from segment-based data to signal-based data. In segment-data collecting, a focus is on key attributes. But, future algorithms will be using raw data (signals) to work towards a marketing aim. This sort of data may be past products or current location — aspects which will enable you to judge the success of your marketing strategy. Make sure that you’re allocating time and resources to achieve better results in-line with your campaign budgets.

As we can see, although mobile and digital technology has already had a great effect on the sector, there’s more to come. Spend time understanding and gathering data around your customers to give them a quality and tailored experience that they’d struggle to find elsewhere. Innovate ways to incorporate the latest technology into your marketing strategy and don’t get left behind when it comes to app development and data collection.