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In the not too distant past, furniture sales were considered incompatible with e-commerce. It was commonly believed that consumers wanted to physically touch and handle furniture products before making a purchasing decision.

Fast forward to 2020 and the pandemic sweeping across the world, when the shift to online shopping for many consumers was a necessity due to universal lockdowns. From this necessity, consumer wants and needs started to change significantly. Over the past year, people became more comfortable shopping online for all kinds of products, including furniture, which was once thought to be unsuitable for e-commerce first sales. How consumers want to shop for furniture now presents new challenges for the industry.

Having complemented brick-and-mortar stores with digital commerce offerings, as more and more customers switch to shopping for furniture online, industry leaders must double down on the digital experience. It’s now important for brands to discover ways to reshape the customer experience and showcase their furniture products in innovative ways.

Taking advantage of advanced technology

Manufacturing ready-to-assemble bedroom, home office, and entertainment center furniture since 1940, South Shore Industries Limited is a furniture designer and manufacturer recognized for fusing quality and functionality with the latest styles.

With three factories and three distribution centers, the firm operates throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico and partners with a network of online and traditional retailers, including Amazon, Wayfair, and Walmart.

In the wake of the pandemic, South Shore recognized the time was right to grow brand awareness and optimize opportunities available in its direct-to-consumer sales channel.

Reinventing the digital experience

“Today’s consumers want choice and to personalize their furniture purchases before placing an order,” says Claude Bernier, CIO of South Shore Industries Limited. “We have to adapt to the wants and needs of consumers to remain competitive and keep ahead, and to do this, we must take advantage of advanced technologies to deliver quality digital experiences.”

Looking to move beyond offering transactional interactions with consumers from its Web sites, South Shore was ready to deliver exceptional direct-to-consumer e-commerce experiences.

To achieve this goal and underpin the entire lead-to-cash process, the company sought help implementing advanced e-commerce and customer experience capabilities integrated with its SAP ERP application.

Needing help to refine its e-commerce project strategy, the company joined forces with the SAP Customer Experience Services organization and took advantage of advisory services for SAP Customer Experience solutions, gaining expert help in everything from cross-solution architecture to digital strategy.

Delivering projects remotely

Orchestrating implementation services remotely, the team deployed the SAP Commerce Cloud and SAP Customer Data Cloud solutions and performed quick-start services for the Qualtrics CustomerXM portfolio – implementing the suite of solutions in just 19 weeks.

With these solutions in place, South Shore has established robust e-commerce Web sites in Canada, the United States, and Mexico and used its expanded online commerce capabilities to offer complementary furniture and décor products from business partners who lack sophisticated e-commerce tools. South Shore is also using the Qualtrics CustomerXM portfolio to capture customer feedback and gain key insights into abandoned carts as well as successfully completed transactions.

And paving the way to deliver highly personalized omnichannel experiences in the future, the furniture company is preparing to roll out the SAP Emarsys Customer Engagement solution.

To learn more about South Shore’s advanced e-commerce and customer experience capabilities, register to see Claude Bernier, CIO at South Shore, present at the SAPPHIRE NOW conference in 2021. In this worldwide virtual event, his 20-minute presentation will focus on how South Shore moved from transactional commerce to delivering quality customer experiences. For more reading, take a look at the business transformation study, “South Shore: Moving Beyond Transactional Commerce to Create Compelling Customer Experiences.”