How promotions are helping online furniture sales take a bigger market share

Sourcing and purchasing good quality furniture represents a considerable investment; the size of that investment is an important consideration, both in terms of time and expense. So, what can furniture category managers do to ensure their products and online furniture sales factor into customers’ decision-making?

Traditional discounting remains a popular selling tool for furniture retailers. Yet many potential customers now view these discounting methods with disinterest and even suspicion, making it clear that a different approach is needed.

With many purchases now taking place online, what methods can retailers use to engage their audience and gain a bigger market share?

At Opia, our recent Retail Confidence Report takes a closer look at the current market sentiment, seeking to shed light on overcoming purchase barriers, driving sales and delivering the best customer lifetime value.

Here we review some of our results to find answers to these questions that furniture category managers are currently contemplating.

A modern phenomenon, driven by modern times

The COVID-19 pandemic saw consumers take a greater interest in their home surroundings, driving a rise in furniture sales across every conceivable channel. The world has changed; understanding exactly how it has changed for consumers will be a key factor for furniture retailers.

Traditional discounting is clearly no longer having the desired effect. A surprising 84% of people Opia asked perceived furniture retailers as always having a sale on. Furthermore, only 9% believed they were getting a good deal. These statistics highlight that retailers must find new and innovative ways to gain trust and a share of this increasingly competitive market by using different kinds of promotions.

In-store purchasing still has a role to play; colours, textures and comfort are all things that cannot be ascertained via a screen as they can in person. However, online furniture sales are rising; 56% of our survey participants reported buying furniture online last year. This figure rose to 69% in the 25-34 age category, illustrating that tech-savvy younger people, looking for the sheer convenience of buying online, are driving that rise.

The trust problem

As with all things, relentless undifferentiated promotion loses its efficacy if we see it often enough. Only 9% of consumers asked had complete trust in the discounted prices they were offered. There is likely to be a range of complex factors involved here. For example, our research showed that younger people are more inclined to trust those retailers and be swayed by their promotions. However, that figure falls as we look at older consumers.

The decline in the power of pricing

Pricing is a crucial factor in the decision-making process when reviewing online furniture sales. Nonetheless, pricing alone might be counter-productive in a world where discounts are not as effective as they once may have been.

Conveying quality online

Quality has never been more critical, yet it is a factor not so easily conveyed online.

How can furniture retailers reassure their potential consumers of their products' quality when only conveying digital information during online furniture sales? Our industry experience and our recent research point to several effective ways to remove this significant purchase barrier:

Buy and Try is one valuable way to demonstrate quality and foster trust in your products. This tactic reduces hesitation and boosts buyer confidence in the guarantee of satisfaction.

Referrals and rewards work as an excellent promotional tool, thanks to the power of peer recommendation. An overwhelming 92% of people trust referrals from those they know. They are also four times more likely to buy a product recommended by a friend.

Moreover, referred customers are more likely to recommend a brand to even more potential customers, making any sales promotion that rewards referrals a potent strategy to increase sales and earn trust.

Removal and recycling are crucial aspects of modern, environmental thinking. Carefully selected recyclers can extract value from used furniture, making this promotional strategy environmentally and socially sound, as well as cost-effective. Demonstrating this commitment to sustainability is another way of building brand trust with your audience.


With a compelling 8 out of 10 of consumers asked reporting visits to multiple furniture retailers either online or physically before committing to one brand, leveraging the power of promotions to sway decisions in this incredibly competitive sector should be an essential strategy for any category manager.

Finding new and imaginative ways to introduce smart solutions to sales promotions will help furniture retailers gain more market share ahead of their competitors. At Opia, we partner with global brands to embrace creativity and create highly customised, data-driven and market disruptive promotions that strengthen customer trust and drive a sales uplift.

You learn more about our research on the furniture market by downloading our whitepaper ‘Uncovering Market Sentiment in the UK Furniture Sector’ here,

If you are interested in finding out more, get in touch.

How to encourage upgrades from e-scooters to e-bikes

With the boost of electric power, the scooter, once reserved for children’s playground fun, has now become a common sight in cities across the world. Seen as an environmentally friendly way to avoid traffic jams, the e-scooter has become the go-to option for many inner-city commuters, but is it the best solution?

Reviewing the growth of the e-scooter market, we explore how e-bikes offer a better alternative for commuters and recreational travel and share how to use sales promotions to encourage customers to upgrade from an e-scooter to an e-bike.

The e-scooter market in 2020

The interest in e-scooters was growing pre-pandemic with sales up annually by nearly 100 per cent at the start of the year.1 The reasons behind this rise could be attributed to increasing environmental awareness or improvements in technology that made travel by e-scooter more viable. The health concerns and social distancing restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19 only accelerated this growth. Halfords has reported an increase in sales of e-mobility products, including e-scooters and e-bikes, of more than 230% since April 2 while the Bicycle Association estimates current UK ownership of e-scooters at 200,000.3

Weighing up the best e-product option

Could there be a dose of novelty factor when purchasing an e-scooter? One that leads to a point where a more suitable alternative is then considered? Richard Thorpe, the founder of Gocycle, sees this as an opportunity for e-bike sales:

“I think the e-scooter market is a really interesting one because I think it's an amazing natural feeder for new customers that are going to want to upgrade to e-bikes after they've gone through their initial phase of fun and exhilaration of commuting on an e-scooter, and then realised that it’s quite a stressful commute to do that daily.” 4

Affordability is also likely to be a key factor when choosing an e-product, with most e-scooters costing less than the average e-bike. However, in terms of value and overall practicality, the e-bike stretches ahead with its advantages.

Long term, the e-bike is better for the wallet and the environment. Its battery lifespan lasts for an average 3-5 years5, compared to the 1-3 years of an e-scooter.6 When factoring in comfort and convenience, the benefits of an e-bike makes it clearly the better option. Its sitting position and storage compartments for laptops and bags allow for much more comfortable travel. And, with the added benefit of being able to pedal should it be desired or required, an e-bike offers increased flexibility for longer trips.

Promoting the upgrade

The practical advantages of an e-bike may be apparent to your customers. Still, when making their choice, certain purchase barriers may remain, particularly if they are venturing into purchasing an e-product for the first time. The question then remains, how do you encourage upgrades from e-scooters to e-bikes?

Removing purchase barriers can be achieved using creative, tactical sales promotions. These strategies will boost confidence in the product, offer reassurance in the purchase decision and make the price-point more appealing to customers looking to upgrade.

Here are our favourite sales promotion tactics that are proven in incentivising customers to upgrade their products:


Design a creative campaign around a time-limited trade-in promotion and customers will be motivated to upgrade their current e-scooter to an e-bike alternative. By adding in a reward, either with cashback or a relevant gift, alongside the prospect of a new e-bike for trading in a current e-scooter, you can use this promotional mechanism to shorten refresh cycles and motivate product upgrades.


Cashback promotions are an effective strategy for removing price purchase barriers. This innovative alternative to costly traditional discounting offers customers savings on their purchase, in this case of an e-bike, driving a sales uplift while still protecting a brand’s bottom line.

 Buy and try

For new or unfamiliar, higher-value products, such as e-bikes, giving customers the option to ‘buy and try' offers reassurance in their purchase decision. With a no-obligation trial period, where customers can return their product if desired and receive a full refund, risk considerations are removed, and product sales are uplifted.

Opia makes running these sales campaigns easy, with our end-to-end promotion management service. From campaign design and platform set-up to claim handling, collections and recycling, we focus on making the process easy and hassle-free for you and your customers.

There are definite advantages to purchasing an e-bike over an e-scooter. However, for some customers, reservations remain. Using smart sales promotions, such as the strategies suggested, alongside imaginative marketing campaigns, will help to persuade customers to make this upgrade from an e-scooter to an e-bike.

To find out how we can help you motivate customer upgrades on your product lines, please get in contact with our team.








Why Avoiding the Discounting Trap is Critical for the Profitability of Furniture Retailers

The relentless sales from big brand furniture retailers are something to which we’ve all become accustomed. Boxing Day, the summer season, and, only shortly around the corner, Black Friday all begin to merge into one rolling tide of price cuts, resulting in customers always on the lookout for discounts and yet never really believing they are saving money from these ever-lasting offers.

Competing in this environment is tough, particularly during a year when sales of high-value goods, like furniture, have been so turbulent. We review the impact of this discounting trap, created by high-profile furniture brands, before exploring how to avoid discounting products through the use of smart alternatives that can boost sales without being detrimental to your bottom line.

The curse of the discounting trap

Black Friday is on the horizon, on the 27th of November. As always, significant price cuts are expected. However, despite the hype, there is a sense of discount-fatigue, particularly in the furniture sector. Too many cut-price sales by well-known brands have meant that these ‘special’ prices just don’t feel as special any more.

Trying to compete with this level of price-cuts is challenging, particularly for smaller retailers where margins aren’t so big, and it becomes simply unviable for their profitability.

An erratic year of furniture sales

Furniture manufacturers and retailers have been on a bit of a roller-coaster ride with their trade throughout 2020. The lockdown in March saw manufacturing forced to stop and retailers close their doors, leading to many employees being furloughed.

At the same time, the lockdown travel restrictions also created customers with more money to spend and wanting to improve their home, where they were now spending so much more time. Online orders soared, and when retailers opened their doors in mid-June, business began booming.2

The repercussions of this spike in sales is a shortage of foam and particleboard, reducing production capacity and driving up costs in the run-up to Christmas3. Furniture retailers have been left needing to pass on these increases or close their order books early at a crucial time.

However, the industry is under no illusion. This rush of sales could quickly turn as the country faces an economic downturn, and they deal with the added complication of Brexit also interrupting material supplies.4 A clear, effective strategy is needed to retain profitability, and, for many furniture manufacturers, traditional discounting is not the answer.

The long-term impacts of discounting

Traditional price cuts are used to drive footfall into stores and create a sales uplift across specific product lines. And it works – for the short term. However, these untargeted price discounts are an extremely costly way to boost sales, unnecessarily cutting sharply into your margins. Recovering your full-price position also becomes very difficult, leading to a discounting trap, which can have disastrous long-term effects on your bottom line.

Furthermore, with so many furniture retailers using discounts to attract their customers, the impact is becoming lost, and promotions of this kind lack any point of difference against competitors.

It is vital that furniture retailers understand how to avoid discounting products whilst retaining sales if they are to remain profitable. The good news is there is a smart alternative to traditional discounting that protects margins and offers the same, if not improved, motivation to buy.

How to avoid discounting products – alternative solutions

There is a range of innovative sales promotion solutions that can be used to engage your customers, drive a sales uplift and deliver improved profitability.

Designing a creative campaign, using tactical promotions, will create the same buzz around a product as upfront discounts. Proven in effectively removing the purchase barrier, they provide brands with a much more cost-effective method of promotion.

Examples of these promotional strategies include cashback campaigns, gifts with purchase or instant win offers:

  • Cashback rewards highlight customers’ savings and motivate purchases without the need for upfront discounting.
  • Gift with purchase promotions work on a similar basis, presenting better-perceived value for the customer with the addition of a specially selected, market-relevant gift.
  • Instant wins campaigns use high-value, sought-after rewards with the added excitement around a competition to drive sales.

Securing longer-term profitability, particularly during a climate of uncertainty, will also be immensely valuable to your brand’s future. Strategic sales solutions strengthen brand loyalty, shorten refresh cycles, widen your reach and lead to an increased share of the customer wallet.

Mechanics that achieve these goals include referral and rewards programs, which use strong incentives to drive recommendations and reviews, and trade-in promotions, which offer time-limited rewards to motivate product upgrades.

Creating smart sales promotions provide customers with a compelling reason for purchase without the need for costly upfront discounting. Working on the basis that only the most engaged customers make their claim, promotional costs are significantly reduced – often by up to 50%!

Furthermore, driven by market insights, these innovative and unique campaigns create a point of difference when compared to competitors' relentless discounting.

In a highly competitive market, finding cost-effective solutions that allow you to avoid the traditional discount trap is critical. And with a discount-fatigue setting in and an increased sense of uncertainty about the actual savings being made, campaigns that offer something of value are shown to be highly responsive.

To find out more about how Opia creates market disruptive promotions that allow your brand to stand apart from your competitors, engage customers and drive a sales uplift, please get in touch with our strategy team.








When Bicycle Demand Exceeds Supply: 3 Creative Strategies for Upselling

Earlier this year, we wrote about the unprecedented demand for bikes brought about by the pandemic. Demand for bikes was outstripping supply and manufacturers needed creative solutions to support retailers in satisfying their customers' requirements. Although the lockdown rush has slowed somewhat, stock of entry and mid-level bikes is still low. In this blog, we explore this challenge further, before sharing some innovative ideas for sales promotions that can help boost sales with strategies for upselling in the retail market.

 A summer high that led to sell-out bike stocks

Social distancing restrictions and encouragement to use other means of transport during the pandemic had an enormous effect on bike sales. Data from the Bicycle Association has now confirmed that between April and June 2020, bike sales increased by a massive 63% year-on-year.1 These sales were strongest for bikes under £1,000. As health concerns continue and the focus on environmental benefits increases, this demand is set to continue, but perhaps not at the same colossal rate. The UK will likely follow the same trend as the US, where July saw the highest value of bike imports at $151 million. Although a slight taper was seen in August, at $142 million in imports, this is still an increase of 24% when compared to the same month last year.2

Facing an autumnal challenge of demand exceeding supply

The bike market has been left with vastly diminished stocks, with entry and mid-level bikes sold out, and, despite the peak in sales being in the summer, new stock cannot be produced quick enough, and any that is received is likely to sell out fast. To maintain a good level of sales and keep customers brand loyal, manufacturers need ways to motivate customers to make a more expensive purchase, without resorting to discounting their bikes and impacting their longer-term profitability. Understanding strategies for upselling has therefore never been more important.

3 unique and innovative sales solutions

Buy & Try, Satisfaction Guarantee Promotions

Customers are often hesitant when faced with making a more expensive purchase or trying something new that’s out of their comfort zone. Tackle this uncertainty by adopting a sales promotion that overcomes the purchase barrier and gives your customers confidence in their buying decision.

For example, a Buy & Try promotion can offer a risk-free, no-obligation trial period. Customers have the opportunity to try out their new bike with the option of returning it, if not suitable, and quickly obtaining a refund. Taking out this risk consideration creates a sales uplift of these higher-value products.

Job Safe Schemes

Particularly at this time, the future of many people’s jobs is uncertain. This unfortunate circumstance means that customers may worry about making a higher-value purchase, losing their income and then not being able to afford the payments.

Remove this concern by offering a cashback option should an individual lose their job. A redundancy refund policy, such as our Job Safe scheme, acts to boost buyer confidence. When a customer enrols in this scheme, if they lose their job in the following 12 months, a payment of 50% of their purchase is made directly to them.

Basket Boost Campaign

A Basket Boost campaign, where customers receive cashback on their purchase when other store accessories are purchased alongside, is another method of removing the purchase barrier and allowing room to upsell. This strategy delivers increased sales in two ways; firstly, by providing the customer with a better-perceived value, and secondly by giving your brand an advantage with the retailers. Stores are far more likely to showcase your line of bikes if your promotion encourages further purchases at the store.

Shortage of certain product lines does not have to mean a loss of customers to rival competitors or a drop in prices that hurts your bottom line. With imaginative thinking and relevant, targeted campaigns, you can run sales promotions that drive volumes, protect your margins and strengthen customer loyalty for future profitability.

To find out more about how we can support you with your upselling strategies, please get in contact with our team, who will be pleased to explore the opportunities with you.




How to Boost the e-bike Appeal in the UK market

The electric bike or e-bike: a solution to longer commutes, hillier climbs or fatigued legs. In Europe, e-bike appeal is strong and sales are booming, but the UK is trailing behind. What’s behind the hesitation to adopt this form of bike technology that offers extended adventures and easier commutes? And what can bike manufacturers do to address these barriers and bring the UK’s e-bike sales in line with our European neighbours? As specialists in delivering creative sales promotions for slow-moving and durable consumer goods, Opia explains how implementing specific redemption campaigns can foster customer confidence in the e-bike market to create a sales uplift in this product line.

How Europe continues to lead the way in cycling trends

Historically, the UK has tended to fall behind Europe in its uptake of cycling. Our infrastructure to support this planet-friendly method of transport is far inferior to countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark, leaving budding cyclists a little wary of taking to the roads regularly. However, in the last decade, cycling began trending upwards1, and, before recent events, 2018 saw the highest growth in kilometres cycled in the UK since monitoring began2.

The recent unprecedented impact of COVID-19 has accelerated the country’s interest in cycling. The growth in bike sales has been exponential, with Halfords reporting a 500% rise in some of its cycling equipment since the lockdown3. Meanwhile, Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, pledged £2bn to double the number of cyclists and walkers by 20254.

As we ease out of the lockdown and individuals seek safer, socially distanced methods of transport, cycling has quickly become a favourite for our daily commute. For those facing longer, more challenging journeys or who want to adopt a daily cycling habit, but need a bit of help, electric bikes make perfect sense. In Europe, e-bikes sales are expected to more than double by 20255, with 25% of Europeans intending to use an electric bike this year. In the UK, we continue to lag behind. Only 7% of Brits are considering trying the technology that could expand our biking possibilities6.

With so many advantages to using an e-bike, what is behind these reservations?

Customer objections to e-bikes


Indications suggest that the price point of e-bikes is likely to be a significant obstacle to their sales. At a time when many customers are cautious with their finances, sales of any bikes upwards of £3,000 fell in April. Low to mid-priced bikes are most in-demand, with a 112% year-on-year rise in sales in April for those priced £400-£1,0007.

Product Appreciation

Electric bikes may also require a PR drive in the UK. Steve Garidis, Executive Director of The Bicycle Association, comments that ‘many people still don’t know just how good modern e-bikes are7.’ A lack of awareness of how e-bikes work and what their benefits are, as well as little opportunity to trial the experience, means that sales are not seeing the same increase as traditional pedal bikes.

How a new approach to promotional campaigns can solve the problem

Having successfully worked around similar customer reservations in the past, Opia is confident that with the right promotional strategies, the obstacles to e-bike sales can quite easily be overcome. Europe has illustrated that the e-bike market has the potential to really take off and, therefore, there is an excellent opportunity here for bike manufacturers to maximise their sales by boosting e-bike appeal.

When facing challenging markets:

Provide an incentive

Give your customers motivation for making a higher-value purchase by using consumer sales promotions, such as cashback rewards or enhanced trade-ins:

  • Offering the same sales uplift as traditional discounting, cashback deals provide a brand with better profitability, working on the reality that, on average, only half of your customers make their claim.
  • The effort-to-reward value of a standard trade-in often does not offer broad appeal to the consumer market. Instead, increase buyer motivation and boost your e-bike sales by enhancing trade-ins with cashback rewards.

For improved financial predictivity and profitability, Opia highly recommends work in partnership with an insurer, specialising in promotional marketing, who will cover any risk of over-redemption. At Opia, we are able to manage this risk on your behalf with our end-to-end sales promotion solutions.

Offer reassurance

In a financially challenging climate, when customers are looking to purchase higher-value goods, they need reassurance that they are making a sensible choice. Satisfaction-guarantee and job safe purchasing schemes are proven in encouraging customers to make that buying decision:

  • Increase buyer confidence through satisfaction-guarantee sales promotions. Particularly useful for customers who are unfamiliar with e-bikes, this buy-and-try promotional method offers them a limited period to trial their purchase, with no obligation.
  • At a time when people are worried about the future of their job, cutting-edge sales campaigns that offer a percentage refund, should they face redundancy, boosts buyer confidence to invest in higher-value goods, such as e-bikes.

Get ahead of your competitors

Where competition is fierce, using disruptive promotional strategies will allow your brand to get noticed above your competitors.

For example, use basket-boost campaigns to partner with your retailers and deliver a better deal to your customers. With this strategy, cashbacks are offered when your e-bike is purchased alongside other determined accessories from the store. Basket-boosts not only provide an attractive deal for your customers but also encourages retailers to market your brand ahead of other competitors.

We have delivered numerous other strategic campaigns that have successfully helped brands to boost their sales of durable goods. Our whitepaper uses this expertise to review the current climate of the bike market and outline highly responsive strategies that can be used to motivate your customers towards the purchase of higher-value or unfamiliar goods, such as e-bikes.

Download our whitepaper here.

To boost e-bike appeal and sales, manufacturers need to address the unique challenges in the market by using innovative promotional campaigns. With our expertise, we can help overcome these challenges to reach your commercial objectives and support you towards long-term profitability. Opia puts your business and its specific needs at the centre of our solutions. By creating unique strategies and evolving our approach as the market changes, we will continue to ensure mutual value for you and your customers.

To find out more about how we can support your brand to better profitability in the bike market, please get in touch, and our team will be happy to discuss the opportunities.