This article was written by Swan and was recently published in Cabinet Maker. Read more Cabinet Maker at

In the ever-evolving world of retail, even the tiniest digital butterfly can create the most powerful social hurricane. The nature of retail is to constantly evolve and adapt to its environment, all in an effort by businesses to drive market growth and increase sales figures year-on-year.

As part of this evolutionary cycle, certain retail trends will fade in and out of existence. Naturally, some will fail. Take, for example, the humble QR code – clever on paper as a modern barcode that adds interactivity to packaging and POS, but flawed in practice by requiring proprietary software to work.

Then there are the success stories, such as click-and-collect. A truly revolutionary system that stemmed from a very simple idea: “We want to give our customers more flexibility.” By letting the customer have maximum choice for when they want to receive their purchase, you give them that incentive to shop with you – being able to pick a package up on the way home from work will be much easier than missing a home delivery and having to visit the closest depot.

Looking at some of the most popular trends over the last couple of years – click and collect, product co-creation, loyalty cards, mobile payments apps etc. – one thing has been made clear.

2017 is the year of the customer.

Most retail innovations have been developed to fulfil one simple goal: to make the shopping experience the best it can possibly be. Whether that’s by make it more personal with loyalty schemes or by adding extra convenience through click and collect, retailers are adding more and more incentives and ways to buy their products; and it’s working. Customers are using these alternative channels now more than ever. According to an Ofcom report in 2016[1], a staggering 71% of adults in the UK own a smartphone, and this can have a huge effect on mobile retailing. Indeed, 2.5 million people in the UK are buying on mobile every single day (Criteo, 2016).  These figures are only going to increase, and it is imperative that retailers try and tap into this almost limitless resource.

Of course, this can pose a problem for furniture retailers. As an industry where the majority of purchases are still made in store, these kinds of trends can appear irrelevant, or at least more difficult to action.

This doesn’t have to be the case, and in this series of articles, I will go through the big retail trends of 2017 and apply them to the furniture industry, going over each one and how best they can be implemented in your marketing strategies.

Having researched retail trends and looking at what companies are starting to incorporate or change, I have identified what I think will be the biggest trends for furniture retail this year:

Data and transparency

In the world where everyone is becoming more aware of social, environmental and economic issues, the customers are looking for increased transparency in the companies that they buy from. Brand loyalty is being lost because customers are becoming ever conscious of what they are buying. It’s up to the retailer to change that.


Whether it’s the shopping experience, or the product itself, the idea that a customer can have a one of a kind product specifically for them really sets you aside from the competition. Another big part of this is the fact that loyalty schemes are now a given – brands need to do a lot more to encourage repeat purchases.

Innovative shopping experiences

With recent technological advances, one of the most prominent being the introduction of virtual reality, retailers are looking at ways of incorporating these onto their shop floor to enhance the customer experience. This doesn’t have to just be in-store, it could be as simple as introducing 360° views of your products on your website.


So, you’ve incorporated a multi-channel solution into your business. This takes it to the next level. Omnichannel is the integration of every channel to provide the customer with a seamless and constant interaction with the retailer however they want. It’s not just about linking your website to your physical store anymore, it’s about revolving your entire sales structure around the customer.

In order to keep up with the competition in a growing market such as furniture, it will become increasingly important to be mindful of the latest in retail innovations and trends. The furniture industry is moving and shifting fast and the best way to keep up to date with its changes is to adapt accordingly and ensure that your customer is receiving the most seamless, intuitive and enjoyable experience possible. This will be the best way of enabling growth in the market.

Make sure that this year is your year of the customer.  Develop an innovative and interesting shopping experience that is seamlessly covered by multiple channels, all integrated into one cohesive marketing plan.  Make your products and communication personalised, clear, concise, individual, and tell them something unique. Go the extra mile to offer the customer that extra level of customer service.

After all, doesn’t the customer always know best?