The Furniture Industry goes Online in China — Update 2020

The rise of the middle class in China has changed the consumption landscape patterns in China offering incredible growth opportunities to many industries such as the furniture market. The furniture industry is also benefiting greatly from the rise of eCommerce in China by offering to consumers the option to get rid of the complicated logistics of buying new furniture. To sell furniture in China has become easier for sellers who can now enjoy a bigger visibility thanks to social media as well as a bigger buyer base. We can even distinguish consumers categories of furnishing:

  • First the very rich one and not really regarding prices. Those are more attracted to Western-style furniture, classical Chinese style, and even “Avant-garde” one;
  • Second, the one that is more attracted to luxury and trendy brands;
  • The third one represents the middle class and is looking for both price and quality.

Secondly, according to a report from the national statistics office in China, there is an urbanization phenomenon affecting China these recent years, reaching a rate of 54.7% in 2014 and increasing by 1% each year. In 2018, this rate reached 59.15 percent. This trend has contributed to the development of the furniture industry in China.

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What is the trend in the Chinese furniture industry? We see here that this sector goes mainly through the online channel, and we will see how companies manage to attract their leads on their online site.

China furnitures market is targeting BtoB customers

sell furnitures online in china - Tmall
Jia.tmall.com landing page

The e-commerce site Alibaba has long been considered a major player in the Chinese e-commerce market. Alibaba is taking the growth of the furniture sector as an opportunity by collaborating with several professionals of household appliances including Midea and Haier. Alibaba’s goal is to create the largest distribution site of appliances optimizing supply and demand. 

With the rising affluence of Chinese people and the development of e-commerce in China, Chinese consumers are not satisfied with the furniture ranges in the shop nearby, they are looking for more fashionable and higher quality furniture. In this case, e-commerce plays an important role in the transition to connect the designer and the customers.

Furnitures in China: BtoC customer

There are two major trends noticeable in China for furniture passing both by the online channel.

The first is people purchasing directly through the Internet and the second is to let people pre-visualize the products on the Internet then after that they might go directly to shop at the same store.

Ethnicraft founded by a group of Belgian entrepreneurs managed to take into account these two broad parameters leading to a well-established online marketing strategy in which we will detail some points below:

Choosing the right SEO strategy is crucial to Sell Furnitures in China

To start selling furniture in China, get a local SEO strategy, know the search habits of Chinese consumers, the importance of Meta description on Baidu, the ALT images on Baidu for a better ranking … etc. You’ve probably heard of all of these methods to optimize your SEO on Baidu?

The quantity and quality of your brand content is the key

The first is the creation of content through articles on websites, blogs, and forums. This is what Ethnicraft has managed to do perfectly. You can find links to interesting articles and interviews on blogs, forums, and discussions here. Why create content?

The more you create relevant content regarding your brand and products and more you will have an influence on the sector and more visibility. More visibility means more traffic and, therefore, potential buyers. After writing these articles, Ethnicraft has seen the results on the following keywords:

  • “European furniture brands” ranked 5th place on the first page.
  • “Where to buy furniture in Shanghai” ranked first place on the first page.
  • “Shanghai furniture exhibition in 2015” ranked first and second place.

Baidu plays an indispensable role in Chinese modern lives

The second is to understand the interest of Chinese in Baidu search engines for their furniture searches. Just ask your Chinese friend and you will understand the importance of this search engine in everyday Chinese life. “Where can I find a stylized white living room?” Your Chinese friend answers you surely:” Baidu Yi Xia Ba “which means” Go Baidu. “Baidu has become a verb in itself. Baidu now has occupied around 70% of the total search market share.

sell furniture online china - baidu SEO
Search results when we tape “Ethnicraft” in Baidu

Just as the above screenshot shows, when we tape in “Ethnicraft”, we can find a lot of content of good quality in Baidu. This is very persuasive if the Chinese consumers find these results. Having someone talking about your brand on the Chinese Internet and these articles can be found by Baidu can bring you leads.

China Social Media Advertising: Promoting your Furniture online

Chinese Social networks are a way to promote your online furniture shop. You all know the Weibo social media in China, it is a particularly interesting tool to promote its goods and its online store. There are two points on which you can work on the Weibo social network, take the example of Ethnicraft

  • Make your audience dream with a design page and which corresponds to the universe in where you want to bring your audience. Here is the example below of Weibo Ethnicraft slides with pictures that immerse the user in Ethnicraft’s world.



  •  The second point is the type of content you’ll broadcast on Weibo, where the brand sells the simple, true and authentic side of wooden furniture. The post has managed to harvest 42 to 78 like shares. The information spread quickly on social networks, allowing you to generate traffic at a specific time.

If you want to know more about social media in China, feel free to contact GMA, an expert in Chinese social media campaigns.

Banner ads on Chinese social media can bring you more traffic

The idea is to optimize the data you can collect from users visiting your website and using it in a creative way. We must not fall into the trap to harass and overwhelm your audience with retargeting banners.

Take another strategical approach way. Do you have to tailor your advertising based on the Internet, on Chinese buying habits and tastes? Be creative and adapt your ads to Chinese habits.

Video tool: more visible about your premium quality & special design

Ethnicraft takes you into his world by highlighting the main brand strength: massive wooden furniture. This is the brand’s specialty and force, and the Chinese market loves this idea,  so we decide to put the accent on this point when we are drawing up plans for their branding.

Compared to articles, video is easier and more efficient for viewers to get information. Combining video tools with your strategies can make the finishing point, especially now in China, those short video platforms like Douyin (TikTok) or Kusishou are going viral in China. The video below is explaining to you the concept of Ethnicraft and ideas of the brand with values such as comfort, relaxation, and style.

The trend O2O confirmed in China’s furniture market 

The e-commerce trend of the O2O model is beginning to have some success in China. But what is the O2O? This is a combination between marketing and sales online with those that are offline. What does it consist of?

The principle is simple: the company uses its own website as a product exhibition platform with the ability for the users to order and pay online. Then, we come to offline where consumers go directly on-site shop to get the product that has interested them.

The benefits of the o2o method? A way to boost the products sale and especially concerning logistics by reducing inventory-related problems. Brands such as Easyhome with the site and Juran.cn and Meilele.com have started to build their e-commerce platforms online before expanding their coverage by opening stores.

Here we will show you an example of O2O with the brand Ethnicraft. After the success experienced in Singapore and Malaysia, the brand decided to expand its showroom of 185 square meters to Shanghai. The idea is that the consumer can get an overview of the products on the online website and then choose the products that interest them and after that order online. If the consumer wants to see and touch the products, he can make an appointment with the showroom in Shanghai and enjoy the experience for real.

There is an interesting article about o2o and digital opportunities for developing your brand in China. To conclude, the Chinese furniture industry is opening up more and more in the digital age and that’s only the beginning.

If you are interested in the Chinese furniture market, feel free to contact us for more information. We have helped big or small foreign companies to develop in China since 2012, with our excellent team made up of both Chinese and foreign marketing specialists from around the world.

Read more about China’s Furniture Market

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  1. Hi
    Can you sell Furniture from oversea?
    How it s happend with the shipment?
    Who pay the extra Cost? It is legal?
    Should you declare every order to the customs

    1. Hello Dean,

      Thank you for your questions (very interesting)
      Yes you can sell from oversea and ship in China, but it should be high end furnitures.
      Shipment is taken by Clients, that want imported high quality furniture.
      Cost depend on the size country etc… you can ask a logistic company to give you a quote (their job)

      Yes you have to declare to customs, and the logistic company can assist on on that too.
      Sell furniture from oversea is quite interesting niche profitable business at this moment.
      Davinci (a Chinese brand pretend to be italian) use to do that.
      They produce in China, ship to Italy, put a Made in Italy and sell to Chinese as Made in Italy Brand, and they become super successful until… Chinese People discover the tricK.

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