On the face of it, the rise of the ‘improve, don’t move’ mindset promises great things for the home improvements market, which is set to reach $1,120bn by 2025. (Source: Global News Wire) But retailers must be considerate of the drivers behind the behavior if they are to be the ones that benefit. Factors such as economic uncertainties, sluggish housing markets and high property prices are causing homeowners to think ever more strategically about their finances, choosing the retailers that can guarantee the greatest value and provide the most compelling services. Margins are being squeezed as a result, demanding new and innovative ways to streamline operations and minimize the opportunity for errors that are now more costly than ever.
Home improvements are a big investment after all – and not only for the consumer. To help maximize profitability, retailers require the solutions in place to increase customer satisfaction, speed up the sales cycle and mitigate mistakes. With the right 3D planning solution, retailers can provide sales professionals with the support they need to make the best use of their time, ensure accuracies and deliver a stand out service at key stages of the customer journey.
Whether it’s an entire room remodel or the addition of a single piece of furniture, the ability to visualize and experiment with different design ideas is a must for consumers today, and a common service now offered by a number of retailers in store. Coinciding with the demand for ever more competitive delivery and returns policies, retailers can no longer afford to rely on chance when it comes to a product being the right look or feel for a room.
A 3D planning solution provides an initial step to overcoming some of these hurdles, which, with HomeByMe Furniture and Decor Planner, can be taken one further. For the industry’s burgeoning ecommerce experience, the HomeByMe Furniture and Decor Planner 3D planning solution for home retailers provides a cloud-based alternative that can be white-labelled for use in store and on a retailer’s website, complete with a full product catalog, so that consumers can enjoy the same level of functionality at home – or head in store once they are further along the purchase order cycle.
According to Which?, underestimating the amount of money needed to complete a project is the most common mistake made by home improvers. Progressing designs that simply cannot be met by the available budget can prove disheartening for the consumer if not identified at the outset, not to mention a costly endeavor for the sales professional when it comes to the time taken converting a sale.
Consumers that are not aware of the accumulative costs early on might continue with a design only to drop out last minute, or return the products that are more expensive. With the HomeByMe Furniture and Decor Planner 3D planning solution, prices are transparent, accurate and visible throughout the design process, so that consumers can gauge an accurate cost of the project and what is possible within their budget. This can then be presented to a sales professional as a basis for discussion and further exploration.
The implications of inaccuracies when it comes to measuring up a room can be huge. The cost to the retailer of arranging an installation that cannot go ahead, organizing an alternative size, and risking a disgruntled or disillusioned customer eats away at margins and the likelihood of future business. Customers need a solution where they can log all measurements with the retailer as they go and use them as part of the 3D planning experience for a realistic and accurate render of the finished result.
Measurements can be shared directly with the sales professional, eliminating unnecessary trips to and from store, while their customers have peace of mind that measurements can be verified if a design requires. With more than 200 rules and regulations built-in, equating to years of design training and experience, the HomeByMe Furniture and Decor Planner solution will alert customer and retailer alike of any red flags during the design process when it comes to best practice, possible errors in measurements, or breaches to health and safety standards.
While it is true that consumers are becoming savvier with their spending, the amount they are willing to set aside for home improvements remains substantial. In the UK for example, home owners typically spend £15,419 on making a property their own, according to a survey (Source: Express) by estate agent Tepilo.com, while in the US the average annual home improvement expenditure per homeowner amounted to $6,649 in 2017. (Source: Statista)
With such large investments at stake, retailers need to settle on a cost for a project and stick to it. That means they need to pay careful attention to addressing and logging any changes to a design before agreeing the price. It’s rare that a customer’s plans will stay exactly the same throughout the design process. Indeed, 3D planning solutions are there to encourage customers to explore and try out new ideas to ensure they are happy with a purchase before making it.
However, small changes in particular can be easily overlooked if using a solution that is not completely integrated. With a customized cabinet, for example, perhaps a customer has decided on three doors instead of two – but has the sales professional checked the number of handles on order has also increased? In the grand scheme of a $6,000 remodel, a $40 handle might not seem a lot. The retailer is obliged to absorb the cost as a result, but this can equate to a huge loss over time that is completely avoidable with a 3D planning solution that is end-to-end.
If retailers are to take advantage of a booming home improvements market, they must first overcome what can seem a perfect storm of tight budgets and high expectations, low loyalties and rising rates of return. Delivering more with less, without impacting margins, is no mean feat. And it’s only getting harder. To succeed, retailers need the technology in place to equip an efficient workforce and effective operations. With the HomeByMe Furniture and Decor Planner, it is possible to enhance and help track every step of a customer’s design journey, to remove errors, improve satisfaction and reduce time to sale.
To further explore how a 3D planning solution can help maximize profitability by minimizing error, visit our website built specifically to serve home retailers where you can organize a demonstration of the platform with a member of our team of experts.