The US has the largest furniture market in the world, with a revenue of over $300 billion in 2018. If you want to get in on that action, you’ll need a professional selling platform.
By following these 10 easy steps, you can create your very own successful online furniture store.
Selling furniture online may seem like a quick way to make a buck off the old wardrobe sat in your spare room. But in the right hands, it can become a rewarding business. So how do you go about setting up a successful furniture store online? Do you need tech skills, or an Apprentice-style business plan?
The simple answer is no, you don’t need either. You just need to follow our 10 simple steps, and you’ll be well on your way to building your furniture empire…
Even when you have a plan, it can be hard to know where to start, the order in which to take each step, the best way to choose your platform, or even how to display your products.
These steps will give you a clear and detailed breakdown of the best way to set up an online store for your furniture business.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get started, so you can get selling!
Usually when you see furniture being advertised online, it’s through platforms like Craigslist, eBay, and even Etsy. These are fine for selling the odd item, but they don’t really support a long-term business.
If you want to build a professional and trustworthy brand for your furniture store, it’s worth considering an ecommerce website builder.
Everyone’s heard of eBay, but what on earth is an ecommerce website builder?
Well, it’s an online platform which helps you set up an online store without needing to know any code – or even have any design skills. You can build a legitimate website for your products with ease, and without paying out for a developer.
In short, think of an ecommerce website builder like a piece of really high quality flat-pack furniture – with all the tools included. You can easily put together an impressive piece, and nobody will know it came with an instruction book rather than a hefty price tag.
We’ve tried and tested these builders, compared them with their competitors, and gotten everyday people to put them through their paces as well. Not only are these the highest scoring builders on the market, but they also have everything a growing furniture store could need.
Here’s a quick look at their ratings:
Why Should You Use an Ecommerce Website Builder?
You might be wondering why we don’t just recommend downloading a selling app, or setting up an Etsy account. They’re both quick and easy ways to sell online, right? The answer is, we want to save you time, money, and effort in the long run!
Once you’ve got your ecommerce builder set up, it has the tools to automate a lot of time-consuming tasks for you. Both Shopify and BigCommerce have dedicated features to help your online furniture store succeed. As your business grows and you start processing more orders, you’ll definitely be thankful for these specialist features saving you time and effort!
Although you do have to pay for an ecommerce builder, splashing out will actually save you money in the long term. Etsy, for example, charges listing fees and transaction fees, which can really stack up as your sales increase. Brands like Shopify and BigCommerce want to help you out, and offer discounts on services such as shipping.
Good businesses plan ahead, and by budgeting for an ecommerce builder, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
How to Choose an Ecommerce Website Builder
We’ve given you the top three, but there’s a whole load of great ecommerce builders still out there. Choosing can be really hard, so here’s a few things to think about when you’re narrowing down your options:
- Budget and value for money – how much are you willing to spend, and what are the builder’s price plans like? Remember to look at the higher plans for when your business needs to expand.
- Ease of use – how technically confident are you? How easy is the builder to use? We examine ease of use in all our reviews, because when you’re using it every day, you need a builder that works with you, not against you.
- Features – does the builder have all the features you need? Think about the things that are really important to you – for example, do you need blogging functionality? Or abandoned cart recovery? Don’t just settle for the basics – make sure you’re not missing out!
- Design flexibility – how many templates does the builder have to choose from? Can you customize them easily to reflect your own brand? First impressions count, so design is an important consideration.
- Help and support – we can all get a little stuck now and then. Always check out the support options on offer, to make sure you’re not left dangling without expert help when you really need it.
One of the main things to look out for when you’re comparing ecommerce builders is if they offer a free trial. This is the perfect way to try before you buy, and you can even sign up to a few different builders to see which one you like best!
Every business has different needs, so you need to find the perfect one for you.
Once you’ve found your perfect match, it’s time to take the leap and sign up to a premium plan.
To get started, here’s a quick look at the price ranges of the top three ecommerce website builders around, to give you an idea of what to expect (billed annually):
- Shopify: $29 to $299 per month
- Wix eCommerce: $20 to $35 per month
- BigCommerce: $29.95 to $224.95 per month
As you can see, Shopify and BigCommerce both have big price ranges. This gives your store massive room for growth. Because they’re both dedicated ecommerce platforms, they also offer a ton of extra features to help your business grow as you upgrade.
The $29 per month Basic Shopify plan, for example, gives you all the basic features you need to start a new business, including abandoned cart recovery, multi-channel selling, and shipping discounts.
When you upgrade on Shopify, you unlock more advanced tools such as gift card creation and professional reports.
For all builders, the general rule is the more you pay, the more advanced tools your business gets.
Below, you can see a clear breakdown of the key features offered on a basic plan versus on an advanced plan:
Let’s quickly break these features down, starting with premium support. All three builders provide 24/7 support in one way or another, but if you upgrade to an advanced plan, you can access premium support. This could be a dedicated support agent to help you set up, or priority response to any queries.
Abandoned cart recovery is an extremely useful feature which sends automated emails to customers who have left items in their shopping cart. You can even personalize and add discounts to the email to tempt those shoppers back, saving sales and boosting your revenue. Wix doesn’t have this feature built-in, but Shopify and BigCommerce do.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. An SSL certificate is essential for any online store, because it encrypts any information passing through your website and protects sensitive data from hackers. You can see why it’s so important for anyone accepting online payments!
Bandwidth is how much data can be transmitted through your website. If your data is capped, and you get a sudden surge in traffic, your website may crash. Shopify, Wix, and BigCommerce all give you unlimited bandwidth right from day one, giving you lots of room for growth.
Once you’ve signed up to your perfect premium plan, you’ll want to get down to the really exciting part – choosing your very own domain name!
A domain name is your website’s address, and is how people recognize and find your website. It’s part of your website’s identity – for example, ours is www.websitebuilderexpert.com.
Domain names are important for building a professional and trustworthy image for your business.
Imagine if our website address was www.zxfgh-jkjh94fgj.com. Would you take us seriously? It’s nothing to do with the content of our site, it’s not catchy, you won’t remember it, and let’s face it, it looks pretty dodgy!
Domain names don’t come for free, but they’re definitely worth the investment. They vary in price, but usually average out at around $20 per year. The good news is, a lot of builders offer a free domain for the first year when you sign onto a free plan!
So how do you choose a domain name? Here are our top tips for picking a killer domain:
- Keep it simple. Make sure you pick a domain which is easy to remember (and spell)! Think of addresses you actually know off the top of your head, like www.webuyanycar.com – they all do exactly what they say on the tin.
- Keep it short. Don’t create a long or complicated address – people just won’t remember it!
- Keep it clear of number and hyphens. Like the example we gave above, numbers and hyphens aren’t ideal for domains. If someone’s saying your address out loud, how’s the listener meant to know whether it’s “my-website-3” or “mywebsite-three”? It gets clunky and pretty confusing – best to steer clear completely.
- Keep it relevant. This is an obvious one, but it’s easy to get caught up in the mission to be unique. If your business is called Little Blue Door, for example, don’t pick I-love-country-music as your domain. Even if you’re Dolly’s biggest fan, your customers will be pretty confused! Make sure you stand out for the right reasons.
- Keep it catchy. You can have fun with your domain! You want it to be memorable and unique, so why not try it out on friends and family to see what they think? Can they remember it after a couple of days? Is it too similar to another brand?
Lots of people already own a domain name. If you’re one of them, you can connect your domain to the website you’ve made with your chosen builder.
Shopify, Wix, and BigCommerce all let you do this, and all have help guides to see you through the process.
To create your online store, you’ll need to pick a template. This is basically the structure for a page layout, filled with example images and text to help you see its potential.
It’s like viewing a house – you can see where the light fittings are, and where the current owners have put the TV. But once you move in, you can replace everything with your own stuff, allowing you to bring your own style to the layout.
Just like house-hunting, there are a few things to think about when you’re looking at a builder’s design.
First, is there a good range of templates to choose from? You don’t just want a measly handful, so take a look and see how many are on offer. You’ll probably find that most builders – like Wix, for example – offer tons, giving you a baffling amount of choice!
As you can see from Wix’s template store, often there are categories to help you filter and search for your perfect template. This is a really helpful feature to look out for, as it can save you lots of time.
Other things to think about are…
Previewing – can you preview the templates before selecting one for good?
Shopify, Wix, and BigCommerce all let you preview your template before selecting it, meaning you can get a really good feel for the design before you commit to that layout.
Switching – if you realize you don’t want that template later on, can you switch it?
It’s a big ask to choose a permanent template right from day one. It’d be like having to marry the first person you ever go on a date with – it might work for a lucky few, but most of the time, it’s just not going to happen!
Shopify and BigCommerce both let you switch templates at any time – even after your website is live. Wix eCommerce unfortunately doesn’t let you do this, because it offers so much customization.
The last really important thing to consider when looking at templates is your mobile customers. If you’ve ever bought anything on your phone, or cursed clunky websites which don’t fit your mobile screen, then you’ll know the importance of having a mobile responsive website.
With some builders, like Wix and Shopify, you can edit your mobile view to make sure your site looks just how you want it on all screens. Or, you can leave it how it is, and your template will automatically reformat to fit the screen it’s being viewed on.
How to Customize a Template
Once you’ve picked your template, you’ll need to make it yours.Good builders will let you pull on your gloves and change whatever you like, including:
- Adding and deleting pages
- Page layout
- Slideshows, galleries, and videos
And much more! You don’t need a degree in design to make your site totally your own – with ecommerce website builders, it’s easy as pie. Your furniture store will have its own unique brand, so let it shine! Have fun, but also keep it professional – for example try keeping colors and fonts consistent across your pages.
If you want extra functionality, such as adding contact forms or unfolding testimonial boxes, you can add apps. Shopify, Wix, and BigCommerce all have app stores for you to add more unique customization and features to your site.
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for! Now’s the time to add your furniture and show the world what you’ve got to offer. There’s a lot to think about here, so stick with us as we cover the best ways to set your furniture up for success…
Write a Compelling Description
You’re selling online, so you can’t use your silver sales tongue to persuade customers to buy that antique chair or ultra-modern bed frame. You need your product description to give customers all the information they want to know (without them asking for it), and to reel them in hook, line, and sinker.
This means you need to be informative. Think materials, dimensions, colors, weight; all the things a customer might want to know about the logistics of a product.
This is especially important for a furniture store. With a pair of jeans, if they don’t fit you can throw them in a drawer, or even in your handbag to return them later. If a wardrobe is the wrong size, or is double the weight you thought, you can run into some serious problems.
Next, add some flair. Persuade your visitors that their house, office or apartment just will not be complete without your top-selling desk and chair set.
You can be subtle about it: in the image above, the words “simplicity”, “unique”, “sophisticated”, “clean-lined silhouette”, and “quality and comfort” are all doing their part to persuade the customer that this piece is a good buy.
Take Quality Photos
Nobody is going to buy a sofa if it’s lurking in the gloom of a bad photo. Make sure you’re taking crystal clear, high quality, great color images to show off your products, and avoid grainy, pixelated photos at all costs.
Take photos from different angles, and make them big enough to see on your website.
You can spice up your images too – as well as having individual product photos, why not take some tips from the Swedish gods of selling furniture online? IKEA has inspiration sections, and even a gallery of its products in real homes.
Sneak a peek at your favorite online furniture stores and borrow some inspiration from how they’ve laid out their product images. You can really make these images part of your brand, and use them to connect with customers.
Set a Sensible Price
You probably aren’t setting up an online furniture store just to give your products away.
Pricing will depend on a lot of things, but there are two important rules to follow: don’t overprice your products, and don’t undersell them either. Well, duh, you may think. But finding that happy middle-ground can be harder than expected.
Your prices should reflect the quality of the furniture you’re selling, whether that’s antique pieces or flat-pack DIY packages.
Also, think about how much work you’ve put into your products. Are they custom made pieces you spent time, money, and materials on? Or are they second-hand items which cost less but needed cleaning up?
If you want to drive lots of sales, competitive prices can help shift stock much faster than expensive price tags. But make sure your prices are enough to cover your own costs – you want to make a profit after all!
One of the best ways of getting your pricing right is to take a look at other online stores selling similar furniture to you. This is good for setting a benchmark, as well as sounding out the competition.
For example, if there’s another site selling the same flat-pack wardrobes for half the price, you’re going to be losing customers to their cheaper offers.
Always display pricing clearly – don’t make the customer go looking for it, or leave any confusion as to how much they’ll be paying at the checkout.
Categorize Your Furniture
While we all love a jumble sale in real life, it’s not quite the same with online stores. If there’s no rhyme, reason, or clear logic to how products are listed or grouped, customers will most likely be heading in the opposite direction.
That’s why categories – or collections, as they’re also called – are so important. These are what make it possible to shop by Mens, Womens, Shoes, or Accessories, when you’re shopping for clothes online.
Shopify, Wix, and BigCommerce all let you create product categories. Products can sit in more than one category, making it even easier for customers to filter and find what they’re looking for. A wardrobe, for example, might sit in a “Best-selling” category as well as “Bedroom furniture”.
It’s up to you how you want to categorize your products, but it should be logical, clear, and consistent. Adding related or recommended product categories is a great way of drawing customers in, as are categories such as “New In”, or allowing customers to filter by color, size, or price.
Shopify and BigCommerce are especially good at functions like this. They’re designed to support a large amount of sales, and offer a lot of different product variants.
All three of our top ecommerce builders let you sell an unlimited amount of products. Other builders may limit the number of products you can sell depending on your price plan, or have very limited product variants, making it difficult to properly categorize your store.
After doing all the hard work, taking beautiful photos of your products and painstakingly working out prices, you deserve a reward. Not just any reward – a monetary prize!
The good news is, once your store goes live, all that hard work will pay off – literally. To accept those well earned payments through your website, you need to choose a provider and enable transactions.
Ecommerce website builders make it easy to set up payments in just a few clicks. Customers can then check out easily, right there on your website.
First of all, take a look at which payment options are available – how many are there? Can you accept debit or credit card payments? What about different currencies?
The main payment gateways to look out for are:
- Amazon Pay
- Apple Pay
There are tons more on offer, though – Shopify, for example, offers over 100 additional payment gateways.
How do you choose with so many options? If your business is already connected to an available payment provider, you can continue using that. The main thing is to choose a payment gateway that will benefit your customers the most.
For example, if your customer base is mostly an older demographic, it’s probably best not to rely on digital wallet payments like Apple Pay.
However, you can set up multiple payment methods: for example, the BigCommerce-made store pictured above accepts credit cards, PayPal, and Amazon Pay.
Some ecommerce website builders charge transaction fees. Wix and BigCommerce both let you sell totally free of charge, no matter which payment provider you choose. Shopify does charge transaction fees, unless you use its own in-house payment gateway, Shopify Payments.
Whichever ecommerce builder you choose, always make sure they’re PCI compliant. This ensures everything is processed safely and securely, without you having to worry about being buried under mountains of legal paperwork.
The other thing to look out for is SSL Security. This stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and encrypts any information entered in your website. An SSL certificate protects payment details from hackers, and is essential for any online store.
The majority of builders – including Shopify, Wix, and BigCommerce – provide both these security measures.Some don’t, however, so always check!
By now, your online furniture store is almost ready to go. It’s designed beautifully, the products are all in place, you’ve got your own domain, and you’re ready to start accepting payments. There’s just one last thing to sort out: shipping.
Shipping Origin Address
First things first – you need somewhere to ship from. The shipping origin will set up how shipping and taxes are calculated, and is especially important for getting real-time shipping quotes.
You can ship from your own backyard, your workshop, an office, or you can use a fulfillment warehouse.
A fulfillment warehouse helps you automate shipping, and even handles most of it for you. Your stock gets stored in a warehouse, and if you’ve integrated your store, then items get packed and shipped once they’ve been sold. This isn’t for everyone and does cost extra, but it’s a way to take the headaches out of shipping.
This decision really depends on the size and volume of the products you’re selling. As your business grows, you’ll need to expand where you store and ship your stock from.
When it comes to furniture, it’s unlikely you’ll be storing it all in your house – especially if you’re selling large pieces!
Think about where you’ll be shipping to. Will you be shipping locally? Nationally? Internationally?
Of course, it’ll cost more to ship to certain places than others, so you can set shipping zones which have different rates (and even different shipping methods) applied to them. These can be ZIP/postcodes, states, or even whole countries.
This is a great way of controlling where you’re happy shipping to – you can add more zones as you grow, or delete zones you no longer want to ship to. Customers outside these zones will not be eligible for shipping.
Shipping Rates and Methods
There are different types of shipping you can offer. It’s best to make any shipping costs clear from the start, as any surprises at the checkout can put customers off big time. Here’s a quick look at the three main shipping options you can offer customers:
- Exact shipping costs – this is where you charge the exact amount it would cost to ship the item with couriers such as USPS.
- Flat rate shipping – this is the simplest option. It’s like a blanket charge, where you fix a price and apply it to products and/or orders. For example, it would cost $5 to ship one item anywhere in the US.
- Free shipping – we all love seeing this option at checkout, and you can give that warm fuzzy feeling to your customers too. You can offer it for all orders, certain items, or orders over a certain amount.
Some ecommerce builders have more developed shipping tools than others. For example, BigCommerce also offers a “ship by” option, which gives you more control over how much you charge for shipping. This lets you charge by weight, which is good for shipping heavy items (like furniture) which aren’t covered by real-time shipping quotes.
Another big thing to consider is which courier you work with to ship your precious cargo. They need to be reliable – you don’t want customer complaints about their furniture turning up crushed, broken, or splintered because of careless courier services.
Here are some of the biggest and most popular couriers:
- Canada Post
- UK Royal Mail
A lot of ecommerce builders, including Shopify and BigCommerce, have integrations with couriers like these to make your shipping life easier.
For example, USPS, FedEx, Canada Post, Royal Mail, Australia Post, and UPS all provide real-time shipping quotes for BigCommerce users. Real-time quotes help you keep costs to a minimum, and gives the customer control over which option they want to pay for.
There’s no “best” or “right” choice for a courier service – each business will have different needs, so you should have a look around to see which is the best for you.
You’re almost there! But don’t go hitting the publish button just yet. First, let’s preview your furniture store to see how it looks online.
This is super easy to do – ecommerce website builders have a “Preview” button which lets you view your store as if it were live. Now is the time to spot any glitches, images which won’t load, or any links which don’t work.
Make sure you test your product pages – does your product zoom work? Does the “Add to Basket” button actually do its job? Check the checkout too. Go all the way through to the checkout page and make sure you’ve got a smooth and seamless customer journey.
Don’t forget about those mobile users. Preview your website on your mobile, making sure it’s all formatted perfectly – no squashed images, missing buttons or gigantic menus taking up the whole screen.
Keep an eye out for any details you might have missed so far – double check your store settings, and make sure the language and currency match. Always keep your contact details up to date – things might have changed since you started building your store!
When you’ve been working on something for so long, you can stop seeing the little things staring you in the face. It’s time for a fresh pair of eyes!
Get colleagues, friends, and family to use your website. Get them to test the checkout and read through your product descriptions. Do any pages refuse to load? Is the link to your About page broken? Does one product not have a price listed?
If you can catch any minor errors before your store goes live, you’ll appear a lot more professional and trustworthy to potential buyers.
By now, you probably want to sit back and relax. But the work doesn’t stop once you’ve launched your online store. Don’t worry though, this is the really fun part!
Now’s the time to take to the virtual rooftops and shout about your online store for all to hear.
You’ve put all that love and care into your store, but sadly, people aren’t going to magically flock to buy your products. You have to make them come to you.
Ecommerce website builders know that marketing is key for growing your business, and provide built-in tools to help you promote your furniture. From newsletters to social sharing, you’ve got a world of powerful marketing tools at your fingertips.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a way of making your website sit up and wave to search engines so that it ranks highly in search results. It’s a total mystery to some, which is why ecommerce builders try and help you as much as they can.
BigCommerce, Shopify and Wix all have SEO Guides and tools to help you out. Wix even has an SEO Wiz, which gives you a personalized checklist to follow.
The builders may have already done some of the work, but the rest is up to you. You can set keywords, customize headings and URLs, and write out the titles and descriptions which appear in search results.
The good news is, you’ve already made steps towards optimizing your store. Those descriptive and informative product descriptions you wrote will do wonders for driving traffic and purchases through your site!
Multichannel selling is where you sell across more channels than just your own website. For example, you can sell across multiple social channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
BigCommerce has built-in integrations with these platforms, and makes it super easy to manage all your sales from one place. Shopify also encourages multichannel selling, and for good reason!
Social media is a place most people go for information, entertainment, and to relieve boredom – it’s the perfect storm for shopping. By promoting your products through these channels, you can easily reach a much wider audience than if you just sat around waiting for people to find you in Google.
You can list products on social media, and even set up a Facebook Store which integrates with your main website.
Email marketing – especially personalized emails – is still a very successful way of connecting with customers.
You can send emails to alert customers about a new product collection, a special discount, or a new sale. If that sounds like a lot of work, how about automated thank you emails after a customer has made a purchase?
For those who run a blog alongside your business, this can be a great way of engaging customers and making your emails that bit more interesting.
If you’re worried you have no idea of how to run an email campaign, don’t worry. Your ecommerce builder has had your back up until now, and things aren’t about to change.
For example, Wix has an email marketing system called Wix ShoutOut, which lets you run email campaigns without investing hours and hours of your time. You can easily create customized emails, then track their success using built-in analytics.
While most ecommerce builders have some sort of built-in email marketing system, you can always turn to apps for more powerful tools.
Congratulations, you’ve reached the tenth and final step!
People can’t stop talking about your online furniture store. The sales are flooding in, your shipping is running smoothly, and you’re having images of taking on IKEA as the next big thing. Now, you need to keep track of all your orders.
Inventory tracking is where you monitor your stock levels and keep track of which products are low stock, out of stock, or need replacing or removing.
The last thing you want to do is sell that one-off Georgian writing desk, pat yourself on the back, forget to take it off your site… and sell it again. One disappointed customer is one too many, so managing your inventory is vital.
If you have a large range of products, this can sound pretty full on. Surely you’ll never be able to leave your online store alone? What if an item sells out while I’m out at lunch? That’s where choosing an ecommerce website builder can be a life saver (or a time saver at least)!
With builders like Shopify and BigCommerce, you can automate some of the really important and time-consuming tasks. For example, once a stock level reaches zero, that item will automatically be labelled as “Out of Stock” on your storefront.
So you can enjoy your lunch without worrying!
BigCommerce and Shopify are top choices for managing stock levels, as they have super powerful inventory systems to make your life easy. They make it as simple as possible, and really do a lot of the work for you.
It’s been a long journey, but we’ve been with you every step of the way. Now we’ve reached the end of our 10 steps, you know the ins, outs, ups and downs of building your own online furniture store.
Along the way, you’ve learned about the importance of domains, what to look out for when choosing designs, the many things to think about when you’re adding your furniture, the intricate details of shipping and inventory tracking, and of course, the power of marketing.
As a recap, here are our 10 steps of how to sell furniture online:
- Find the Right Ecommerce Website Builder
- Sign Up to a Premium Plan
- Choose a Domain Name
- Pick and Customize a Template
- Add Your Furniture
- Set Up Payments
- Sort Out Your Shipping Settings
- Preview, Test and Launch Your Online Furniture Store
- Promote Your Furniture
- Manage Your Inventory
By following those 10 simple steps, you can have your own successful online furniture store. We’ve gone into detail on each stage, and suggested how the very best ecommerce website builders – Shopify, Wix eCommerce, and BigCommerce – can help you on your journey too.
Your customers might not know it yet, but they’re waiting for you. So don’t hesitate – get building today, and you’ll be completing step 10 before you know it!
Are there rules about what I can sell through my online store?
No! Ecommerce builders let you sell whatever you want through your online store, whereas an online marketplace like Etsy imposes its own rules. With Etsy, you can only sell handmade, vintage, or craft supplies, but with Shopify, you can sell vintage furniture alongside modern pieces and even home accessories.
Read our Shopify vs Etsy comparison to see which is the best choice for you.
Can I earn a profit through my online furniture store?
Of course! There are no hidden tricks or rules – set up your store, upload your products, and away you go! If you’re worried about the monthly fees of ecommerce website builders, you can choose a cheaper ecommerce builder like Weebly to get started. Out of our three top choices, Wix is the cheapest, starting at $20 per month.
Can I have multiple variants of the same product?
Yes! With an ecommerce builder like Shopify, you can have multiple variants. For example, you could have the same sofa in different colours, or the same storage boxes in different sizes. You can list all your various product options quickly and easily, without hassle!