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.