When you’re hunting for homeware, it’s often the tactile interactions you have with a piece that seal the deal. Although social-distancing has made it harder than ever for interiors brands to sell their wares, there are brands proving that there are still ways to meet demand without ever opening their doors.
Take NYC homeware store LEIF, who are rising to the challenge that the infamous ‘new normal’ brings. We spoke to founder Stacy Longenecker to learn her tips and tricks on how to replicate the in-store experience with restrictions in place.
Branch out into e-commerce, mindfully
Although going online may seem like an obvious step, it’s one that Stacy urges brands to not take lightly. LEIF started out as an online business 10 years ago, so they were well prepared when COVID struck. However, any brand’s e-commerce shouldn’t be viewed as a quick fix. “If you can’t do it well, it’s not worth doing at all,” Stacy says. “An online shop is never going to have the same impact as a store, so it needs to be good enough to be a standalone business.” This means giving careful consideration to everything you put online: from its structure to its user experience, to the tone of voice you use.
Rethink your online photography
Stacy stressed how crucial the role of good e-commerce photography can be. She noted an important trend to be aware of: “Five years ago, the standard for an online store was an e-commerce shot with a white background. Now, we prefer to have lifestyle photography. The more you can see a product in context the better you can translate that in-store experience.” Styling your products in a home setting not only evokes the feel of your store, but it also allows the customer to imagine it in their own homes.
Be ready for new homeware trends
The role of the home has definitely transformed this year. With this, comes a new demand for different homeware. When asked why, Stacy marked a shift in mentality being the cause: “I think a lot of people have had more time to think about their home. They have a craving for a home to be a reflection of them as well as a place they can spend their time. Particularly, I’ve noticed that people want things that make eating at home a little more special because they aren’t going out to eat. What was once only brought out for formal or special occasions is now being transitioned into the everyday.”
Find new ways to use social media
As store shutters remain closed, you can still stand out on social media – if you do it in a unique way. “One thing that’s been really effective for us is holding ‘Story Sales’ on social media,” Stacy advises. “It’s super effective and also a lot less effort than making a whole website. Post products in your store to your stories and people can DM to order. It creates a really personal and exclusive experience – our regular customers were telling us how they felt like they were back in the store.”