Similar to the jewelry or bottled water businesses, furniture stores have little secrets kept hidden from you in their drawers.
Have you ever wondered what those could be?
Well, there's a good chance they're buying furniture for a few hundred dollars and selling it for several thousand.
It might anger you a bit as a consumer when you see markups like this, but it brings up a wonderful business opportunity.
Yet, when you learn how to sell furniture online, the margins can increase even more.
Like all online business, it's not all that simple to start making tons of money right off the bat. However, the furniture industry is a logical one to get into since the rewards can be considerably higher than that of other industries.
Trust me on this one. The furniture business has a lot of untapped potential.
Another reason we like the idea of selling furniture online is because of the necessity. Kids are constantly heading off to college in need of new or used furniture. The same can be said for when they graduate. And when they buy a new home. And when they start a family.
Chairs, couches, tables, desks, and every other type of furniture you can think of are required in order to lead a normal (and easier) life. Your business doesn't have to worry about running out of buyers because every single person in the world is technically a buyer.
Because of how rewarding the furniture industry can be, I want to walk you through the methods on how to sell furniture online. We'll talk about locating the right suppliers and wholesalers, then we'll outline things like dropshipping, building a store, and marketing the store to customers.
Step 1: Find a Reputable and Quality Furniture Wholesaler
As with all products sold online, you need to first locate a reputable supplier that's going to either sell to you at wholesale or dropship your products.
With furniture, it gets a little tricky since we're talking about large pieces of merchandise. You can't really grow a furniture business by storing all of the inventory in your apartment.
However, there's a chance you can swing that for the short-term, then opt for a warehouse or storage facility as you grow. So, those are your options when purchasing from a wholesaler. It's not impossible to pull off, and you're most definitely going to make good money if you can move the inventory, but you mustn't forget about storage.
When it comes to finding a wholesaler, it depends on what type of furniture you would like to sell. If you're selling vintage furniture, that's going to involve you seeking out random items online, going to thrift shops, and scouring antique stores.
New items can be acquired by contacting wholesalers in your area or by going the Alibaba route.
The search for furniture on Alibaba delivers thousands of results. I recommend searching based on your desired product type. That way, you have no need to sift through the endless list of suppliers who sell furniture.
What's great about Alibaba is that when you land on a supplier you can typically buy multiple products from them. What's even better is the fact that the website reveals things like ratings and how long the supplier has been on Alibaba.
As for dropshipping, this is much easier. However, you must remember that your profit margins are going to decrease because of the setup. Once you locate a product you like, contact the supplier to learn more about them. And, make sure you get the relevant contact information since it would require you to potentially speak with them over the phone as well.
A piece of advice which you've probably heard a million times:
Always try to establish a good relationship with the suppliers because the chances are you'll be purchasing more from them in the future.
Whether you select wholesale buying or dropshipping, you should always follow the same rules:
- Establish a point person who you'll always be speaking with.
- Get samples from the supplier. Since this is furniture you might have to settle for a smaller product, but most suppliers should be able to accommodate this. If not, simply buy a few products at wholesale price, then sell them to your customers.
- Do your research. Look at reviews, product quality, and any information you can find about the company online. Many of these companies don't have websites, so it's a huge plus if they do.
- Establish conditions on payment, delivery times, and how much you're going to purchase.
If you're considering dropshipping, the place to go is AliExpress. It's similar to Alibaba except that you can get wholesale prices without buying multiple items at once. In addition, you can hook a Shopify site up to the Oberlo app to streamline the dropshipping process and automatically pull product information into your website.
After a sale is made, Oberlo sends the information to the supplier, who then packages the product and sends it to the customer.
You might be wondering: what if the furniture is too big to ship? Well, your research of suppliers and wholesalers on places like Alibaba and AliExpress should give you a good idea as to the types of furniture that can be shipped and that will help scale your ecommerce furniture business in the long run.
Sure, it's a given that there are plenty of furniture items that probably need to be picked up or shipped in a special way, but if the Alibaba suppliers are shipping a bed somehow, this means that you'll be able to ship it as well. Or the supplier will simply dropship it for you.
Step 2: Set up an Online Store Made Just For Furniture
Making a furniture sales website is much easier than it used to be. Nowadays you don't need a development degree or have much knowledge about coding at all.
Instead, you can utilize an ecommerce platform, which provides the hosting, design tools, marketing features, and payment gateways to start selling online today.
Feel free to research each one of them, but for this explanation, we're going to walk you through building a furniture ecommerce store with Shopify.
The main reason we like Shopify is because you can use the Oberlo plugin for dropshipping. Not only that, but sellers who buy wholesale can choose a theme, create products, and start selling within a matter of a few hours.
So, go to the Shopify theme store and start browsing themes that might work for a furniture store.
There's a Furniture category under the Industry tab, so that's just about the perfect place to begin. Some of the themes are free, and some of them you have to pay for.
I like the Split theme after scrolling through, since I'm thinking about selling chairs and stools, and I want a modern design.
Once you settle upon a theme that suits you, create a Shopify account. There's a free trial so you have no need to launch a site right off the bat. Eventually, you'll pay for the monthly service, which includes everything from hosting to design tools and marketing options to integrations.
In this case, I'm selecting a paid theme, but remember, there are plenty of free themes available. Just try and look around for a bit to find one that suits well.
After signing up for the free trial you have an impressive amount of features to play around with. I suggest building your store with the following steps:
- Install your theme so that it looks like an actual website.
- Add or transfer over a domain that's going to reflect what your business is all about.
- Create your products and potentially connect Oberlo if you plan on running a drop shipping operation.
- Create a beautiful homepage with product galleries, your logo, Buy buttons, and whatever else you want to show.
- Connect a payment gateway so that customers can stop by your store and make purchases.
- Launch your store and start marketing!
Step 3: Learn How to Sell Furniture Online with Pro Marketing Strategies
Marketing furniture is slightly different than other products.
Although you'll try out marketing strategies to see what works, here are some tips for when you launch your startup:
- The first task you should complete is making an email list and placing email subscription forms on your site. This way you can send out receipts, newsletters, blog post updates, and other emails to get people coming back to your store.
- Although furniture doesn't perform that well on social media, it all depends on who you target. Plenty of people are into home improvement and interior design. So, think about this when making Facebook ads and Instagram posts.
- Partner with interior designers and real estate professionals to get your products in front of customers.
- Utilize frequent promotions and coupons to establish a customer base when getting started.
Selling Furniture Online is a Piece of Cake, Right?
In this guide, we've covered how to find furniture suppliers, along with options for dropshipping and wholesale buying. You also know what it takes to configure an online store and start marketing your products.
There's obviously much more to running an online store, but these are the basics to get everything in motion. The furniture industry is, and will always be, a gold mine. The question is whether or not you're willing to put in the work to make your store a reality.
Based on your experiences, what pieces of furniture do you think will sell?
If you have any questions about how to sell furniture online or any helpful advice, share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Feature Image by Giga