David Shakespeare, SEO & Content Supervisor at EZ Living Furniture, shares an insight into their UK growth plans following a successful website launch.
Irish furniture retailer EZ Living Furniture has revealed plans to ramp up its UK business following the success of its recent investment in a standalone website.
EZ Living Furniture first launched its UK site, www.ezlivingfurniture.co.uk, at the back end of 2021 and started shipping in the British market in the months that followed. Since then, the business has grown from strength-to-strength as David Shakespeare, SEO & Content Supervisor at EZ Living Furniture, shared: “We started shipping to the UK in early 2022. The first few months were relatively quiet, but this was to be expected when establishing a new business in a previously unchartered market. Over the last number of months, our UK brand has begun to garner an incredible reputation of its own.
“We have seen a huge increase in sales and visibility from the UK and our aim is to reach even more people before the year is out. We intend to bring our entire catalogue of affordable, five-star furniture to as many people across the UK as possible. The customer has always been at the forefront of everything we do and we will continue to prioritise them and our customer service to catapult us into the New Year. We believe this is the key to our growth and expansion – always putting the customer first.”
Prior to pressing the green button on the UK site, EZ Living Furniture spent a considerable amount of time researching and adapting itself as a company to facilitate their brand’s vision in the UK.
David explained: “Transitioning from a smaller Irish market was a big and somewhat challenging step for us so we wanted to ensure that we knew what we were getting ourselves into. We were essentially branching into an unknown area not just from a website and SEO perspective, but also from a customer service standpoint. We made the decision to invest in creating new architecture on our server side to establish structure, enhance usability, and facilitate features like UK stock control.
“Fortunately, we already knew that there was a substantial demand for high-quality furniture in these areas as we had a considerable number of visitors from Northern Ireland to our EZ Living Furniture stores, both online and in the Republic. This is why it made sense to launch our .co.uk site and offer a complete home solution to people across the UK.”
With multiple stores across Ireland, the business has already tested the water in the UK with its most recent opening in Londonderry, which has been trading since Christmas 2021. The plan moving forward is to take the knowledge learnt from a UK customer perspective and rollout further stores in both the UK and its native Ireland.
David continued: “Opening the Londonderry store was a great learning experience for us and an introduction of sorts to the UK market. Taking this step was a huge challenge for us, especially because of Brexit and the difficulties that came along with it. COVID-19 was also still prevalent during this time which only added to our concerns. We saw a decrease in furniture production and a lessened workforce all while exercising the necessary in-store safety precautions.
“Despite the current economic climate, EZ Living Furniture has continued to grow. We believe that this is a result of the strength of our brand. We are extremely proud of what we have achieved to date and we have no plans of slowing down either. We are planning more stores in Ireland and the UK in the near future and we are extremely excited about taking this step and being able to reach more potential customers.”
Despite not being able to confirm which locations in the UK the company has earmarked for a potential opening at this stage, the business did reveal that it plans to reach a portfolio of ‘several stores’ to complement its Irish network. In fact, the company is preparing the launch of its 17th store opening in the country, which will be located in Limerick.
And with the Irish market in mind, David shared an insight into how it is performing and how it relates to the British market. “COVID-19 has had a massive impact on retail and furniture e-commerce as a whole. While previously there would have been a hesitancy with regard to purchasing larger furniture items online, now after COVID, we are seeing a greater uptake in sales for items like sofas and mattresses. This could be as a result of an increased trust in brands and their online capabilities. However, this could also be attributed to many factors such as advancements in e-commerce, convenience, and robust consumer protection for online purchases.
“Brand is still hugely important for customers. The Irish market is always evolving but still puts a lot of faith in what they know and trust, especially when it comes to spending large amounts of money on investment pieces such as furniture.
“The Irish market is also keenly adapting to new technologies in the eCommerce space. Since the introduction of our remote shopping feature, Augmented Reality app, and product videos, we have noticed that customers are more willing to use technical features to assist them in their shopping journey.”
In keeping with technology, EZ Living Furniture was one of the first Irish retailers to develop an Augmented Reality app, back in 2020, that allowed customers to view hundreds of items virtually through their devices.
Most recently, the company launched a remote shopping experience for customers. Using a laptop, smartphone, or tablet, customers can connect with a salesperson live in-store via video and get expert advice on furniture or interior related topics. David said that this service gives “our customers even more flexibility and greater access to our stores. They are able to get all the help and information they need about a particular item(s) without leaving their homes”.
EZ Living Furniture started as a small, family-run business back in 1998 and has delivered continued growth ever since, becoming one of the biggest furniture retailers in Ireland. David paid recognition to their customers and communities as being key to its growth. “We are extremely grateful and humbled by the support of the communities that have welcomed us and the customers we have made the decision to shop with us.
“We strive to always exceed our customer’s high expectations of us and believe that without trust, a brand will cease to exist. This is why we work so hard to improve and develop new features for our website. Our main priority is to make shopping with us and contacting us as easy as possible.”