Furniture Protection Plans: What They Are, and What Consumers Want From Them
Furniture protection plans help merchants safeguard their brands from circumstances out of their control.
Suppose you sell an expensive leather sofa to a newlywed couple. A month later after their housewarming party, they discover a stain on the couch from what looks like a ballpoint pen. They reach out to you for help, but since the manufacturer’s warranty doesn’t cover ink stains, you instead offer 15% off a replacement. Hoping you would do more, the couple takes their business to a different retailer.
Modern protection plans turn disappointing situations into positive ones since they cover many of the mishaps associated with everyday life. And there’s a market for them. According to a 2022 Slickdeals survey, 26% of online shoppers regretted not buying a product protection plan.
Furniture protection plans have the potential to give consumers more confidence in buying from you and improving the ecommerce experience. Here’s what to consider as you explore your options for plan providers.
Manufacturer’s warranty vs. product protection plan
Both a manufacturer’s warranty and a product protection plan help safeguard a consumer’s new furniture purchase. But they differ in what they cover and for how long they provide coverage.
For example, a manufacturer warranty covers certain failures or defects in manufacturing and workmanship, often for one year. But it doesn’t cover accidental stains or damage. On the other hand, a product protection plan may extend certain failure coverages after that first year and offer additional protection for accidental stains and damage. A huge plus is that this coverage starts the day the product is delivered.
Most retailers automatically include a manufacturer’s warranty with furniture purchases. Customers don’t pay extra for one. It only covers defects or mistakes stemming from the manufacturing process.
These defects most often include:
- Furniture finishes (e.g., leather couch)
- Component failure, including mechanisms (e.g., recliners)
- Defective frames or springs (e.g., sofa)
Manufacturers’ warranties rarely cover different defects for the same length of time. Some furniture retailers’ warranties, for example, cover reclining mechanisms for five years and the finishes for one year.
Product protection plan
A product protection plan picks up where a manufacturer warranty leaves off. It often includes coverage for accidental stains and damage stemming from everyday usage. These plans are optional, and ecommerce shoppers typically have the option to add them at checkout.
To be fair, no two product protection plans are created equal. Their depth of coverage depends on the plan provider, item covered, and term length. A quality plan will cover mishaps like:
- Heat marks on wood surfaces
- Accidental stains from nail polish or bodily fluids
- Punctures, rips, or gouges in fabric, including area rugs
- Seam separation
- Food or beverage stains on hard-surface furniture
Most product protection plans last from one to up to 10 years — but again, the duration depends on the type of product and the provider. Longer coverage terms equal a higher plan price.
Who is most likely to purchase furniture protection plans?
Product protection plans appeal to all furniture consumers because they provide peace of mind in the event of an accident. But specific customer situations can make protection plans an even more desirable add-on to a furniture purchase.
Households with young kids likely see more accidental damage to furniture than households without them. Since product protection plans safeguard against accidental damage, this customer segment will be more open to purchasing them.
Z Gallerie sells kids furniture in addition to other common furniture items. This diverse inventory gives the company the perfect opportunity to zero in on the “accident-prone household” segment.
Suppose a customer buys both a dining room set and a crib. That’s a good indication they have kids, making them more likely to want to protect the dining room set from toddler-powered spills and other accidental damage.
If a customer meeting these criteria doesn’t purchase a protection plan, consider sending an email or SMS before shipment with a link where they can add a plan to their order.
Customers with limited discretionary income
Consumers with limited discretionary income might spend less on a couch. But since they can’t foot the bill for a new one as easily as high-income households, they may want to extend the couch’s life for as long as possible.
Modern furniture protection plans can cover the cost of a repair or, if that isn’t an option, a replacement. At the end of the day, it may be cheaper to pay for a protection plan up front than to buy or repair a new piece of furniture down the line.
HomeAdvisor estimates that reupholstering furniture after an accident costs $720 on average. Z Gallerie’s five-year product protection plan from Extend — which covers both upholstery repairs and a full replacement — only costs $239 for a $2,000+ two-piece sectional.
3 furniture protection plan features consumers want
As you narrow down your list of product protection plan providers, make sure they offer maximum value without creating friction in the ecommerce customer experience.
Affordable and extensive coverage
Consumers want protection plan pricing to be in line with what the piece of furniture costs, what accidental damage the plan covers, and the plan’s duration.
Before you select a plan provider, do thorough research to make sure you can offer customers the best price for the maximum amount of coverage.
Consider Bob’s Discount Furniture. Even though it’s a “discount” ecommerce retailer, the company charges $349.99 for a five-year protection plan covering a $2,500 piece of furniture. Z Gallerie’s five-year Extend protection plan, meanwhile, costs $239 for a similarly priced item. Bob’s plan doesn’t cover “seam separation,” but Z Gallerie’s protection plan through Extend does.
Plan providers control most of the factors that determine plan pricing, but you may still have some say in what the customer ultimately pays. Many providers let you add a profit margin to plan prices, so you benefit financially from each plan sale. You may have to adjust desired margins to find a price that leads to the most conversions.
Easy to understand and purchase
Product protection plans are clear value-added services for consumers. But people won’t buy them if they can’t quickly learn what they cover or if they have to start a new transaction to make the purchase.
Don’t bury the plan’s list of coverage for accidental stains and damage. Make it easy for customers to access full coverage details so they can purchase your plans with more confidence.
It only takes a click for customers to go from their Z Gallerie shopping cart to a pop-up containing a summary of coverage benefits and exclusions. Three more clicks and the customer has a downloadable list of their Extend plan’s complete coverage terms.
When they’re ready to buy a plan, customers simply add it to their shopping cart, just as they would the furniture item. They don’t need to leave your page or open a new tab.
Some furniture merchants send customers to a new platform to buy a plan, which creates extra steps and disrupts the experience. That can make them lose interest in the offering and, worse, your brand.
Quick claims processing
The ultimate test of a furniture protection plan is how quickly it allows customers to file a claim and receive adjudication. Even if plan claims are handled by a third-party company, customers will blame your brand for a poor, drawn-out experience.
Today, 76% of consumers “expect to engage with someone immediately when contacting a company,” according to Zendesk. This means that if customers have to wait longer than they’d like to process a claim, it starts eroding their perception of your brand.
Modern plan providers like Extend automate claim intake. With the help of its online assistant Kaley, Extend processes 98% of claims in 90 seconds.
When choosing a plan provider, make sure it doesn’t resemble a “legacy” extended warranty company. These companies were defined by making customers fill out a paper claim form, mail it in, and call a helpdesk for updates. This cycle led to long hold times and few guarantees of a quick claim resolution, giving customers a reason to regret buying a plan in the first place.
Many legacy warranty companies now let customers file plan claims online. But customers who’ve lost their sales receipt will still face delays, and few companies are transparent about how long it takes to resolve a claim.
Take Lowe’s legacy claim requirements. Customers need their sales receipt to start a claim.
What if a customer accidentally deletes the email with their sales receipt and plan details? With providers like Extend, all a customer needs to start a claim with Kaley is their email address.
Boost your bottom line with furniture protection plans by Extend
Thanks to the seamless post-purchase experience offered by Extend, customer peace of mind can quickly improve brand loyalty. After approving a claim — and depending on the product and type of stain or damage — Extend will either send a certified furniture professional to service the product or approve a replacement. With replacements, Extend sends customers back to your website to pick a new item. The end result? Happier customers and a healthier bottom line.
To learn more about Extend’s furniture protection plans, click here to request a free demo.