Wondering how to start a furniture business online?
If you were to spend 10 minutes Googling that exact question, you would find a bunch of resources telling you to do everything from setting up an LLC to finding a location.
This guide will do no such thing.
Instead, we’re going to focus on the things that actually move the needle. More specifically, the business plan you need to follow so you can successfully launch and scale your business while making a healthy profit.
Let’s get started….
Is Selling Furniture Online Profitable?
Yes, selling furniture online can be profitable.
For example, Humphreys generates $37,000/month selling chairs. Another bigger example is Purple, which sells over $100MM in mattresses every single year.
So there’s no reason why your furniture business can’t be profitable.
The trick is to understand your numbers inside and out. Everyone knows the goal is to sell your product for more than it cost to make it. However, the economics of building a furniture business can get a lot more complicated than that once you start adding in additional expenses like marketing and employees.
This isn’t unique to furniture businesses.
However, because furniture tends to be a high AOV product with expensive and potentially complicated shipping expenses, you have to be extra careful. Otherwise, you’ll lose your shirt from all the fees other types of businesses don’t have to worry as much about.
That’s why it’s important to learn how to start a furniture business online correctly.
How Much Does It Cost To Start A Furniture Business?
The first step to learning how to start a furniture business online is math.
There are 2 main factors that will contribute to your startup costs.
Cost per unit
Cost per unit is the cost to create a product. So let’s say you’re creating a chair and it costs $50 to produce it. Then your cost per unit is $50. Now, this can go up and down depending on the specifications of the product. So if you want to use more expensive materials or you want something with a more complicated design, expect your cost per unit to go up.
Minimums are the minimum amount of units you need to purchase so that specific manufacturer does business with your. For example, some manufacturers will have minimums of 1,000 units and others will have minimums of 10,000 units. On a cost per unit basis, the 10,000 unit minimum will probably be significantly cheaper, but you’ll need much more money to actually start the business.
You’ll need to balance both for best results.
With that said, I recommend starting with $10,000-$25,000.
Of course, this can vary wildly as making chairs is not the same thing as making mattresses which is not the same thing as a coffee desk. So take my recommendation with a grain of salt. My main point is that it’s not something you can start with a few thousand.
The only way to start with less is you created handcrafted furniture.
In this scenario, you don’t have to deal with crazy minimums. Plus, since you’re the only doing the labor, the cost per unit will decrease by a ton. On top of all of that, handcrafted furniture can be sold at luxury prices, which is an amazing way to start any business.
You may be able to start with just $1,000-$5,000 depending on your needs.
You can then later outsource to 3rd party manufacturers.
Furniture Business Plan: Build
Now here’s the part everyone wants to master when learning how to start a furniture business online… the actual nuts-and-bolts of launching the brand.
If you think I’m going to say ads though, you would be wrong.
I believe the best way to learn how to start a furniture business online to build a small, but loyal audience of people who are interested in your topic. The reason is because you’ve spent a lot of money on inventory, yet your margins are the lowest they will ever be. The only way to offset this at the beginning is with organic traction.
So 6+ months before you launch, you’ll want to start producing content.
Pick either a Youtube channel, TikTok, or a blog and start building an audience of people who would be interested in your furniture. For example, if you’re selling a mattress, you might want to build a blog all about sleep. If you plan on selling a dining table, you may want to create content about how to renovate your kitchen.
From time to time though, you also want to create “behind-the-scenes” content.
This when you show what you’re doing to start your furniture business. For example, you may want to show clips of the furniture being made or you can show how the logo will look like. Basically, you want people to know there is something coming and they can trust it.
However, keep it to less than 10% of your total content.
90% of your content should be focused on what the audience wants.
Furniture Business Plan: Launch
The next step is to take your audience and start preparing for your official launch.
The best way to make this happen is with a “hot list”.
A hot list is basically a newsletter filled with subscribers who subscribed through a high intent landing page. In this case, you would set up a landing page where people can give their email address in exchange for updates about your new upcoming brand. If you want, you can even offer a discount for these “VIP” customers.
I recommend you do this 1-2 months before you launch.
During those 1-2 months, you’ll be promoting this landing page to your organic following. You’ll also send them weekly emails giving them updates about your new brand so they can by hyped by the time you launch.
Once it’s time for launch though, I recommend you take it slow.
Most people will try to crush it out the gate.
I’d rather you do a launch in 3 rounds.
This means you would launch a limited supply of your product and then try to sell the entire stock out. You want to make sure your customers are happy and get any feedback when it comes to your product so you can modify it the next round. Then repeat this two more times.
By launching in rounds, you make your numbers more manageable.
You also add built-in scarcity, which is key if you want to sell premium priced furniture.
With the 3rd round though, you can permanently keep your Shopify store open.
Furniture Business Plan: Scale
Learning how to start a furniture business doesn’t end after you launch.
After the launch phase, you still need to bring more sales.
The best way to do that is to keep doing what you did that worked. In this case, that means continuing to build your audience with consistent content. You should consider your audience building to be at the foundation of your business because it’ll help you keep the highest possible profit margin. It’s even more important if you plan to sell premium priced furniture.
You now have one organic traffic channel down.
Now it’s time to add one paid traffic channel.
Generally speaking, you’re going to want to start running Facebook and Instagram ads. For best results, you’re going to need a dedicated landing page for your best selling product. Plus, you’ll also want to invest in really good ad creative. By doing this, you maximize your chances of making a profitable sale on the first purchase, which is absolutely critical if you want to be able to afford new customers.
You now have one organic channel and one paid channel.
The last thing to add is your email marketing channel.
Technically, you’ve already started doing this during the launch phase. But now that you’re growing your audience and using paid ads to scale your customer acquisition, you now need to maximize your retention efforts to grow even further. This means building an ecommerce email marketing funnel that is designed to maximize your 90 day LTV.
Once you have all 3 of these things down, then you can worry about things like Amazon FBA.