Furniture is still new to e-commerce but growing fast, with on-line sales climbing from $2.4 billion in 2011 to a projected $4.8 billion by 2016. E-commerce platforms cater directly to consumers and to the brick-and-mortar retailers that continue to dominate the furniture industry. Retailers probably won’t very lose much ground to e-commerce in the long run in the furniture market, because for investments of this kind consumers usually prefer to walk through a store and discuss the products they’re comparing with a customer service associate. Targeting the subgroup of consumers who rarely go to stores instead, e-commerce is expected to ultimately capture 10% of the modern furniture market.
Modern Furniture is Growing Fast
On-line shopping offers consumers a larger selection and more convenience, and the Millennial generation in particular strongly prefers e-commerce to traditional shopping. This generation is also looking for low prices when they buy modern furniture on-line, and some e-commerce sites are able to keep their prices well below retail to appeal to them. Other strategies for targeting Millennial shoppers include shopping options that can be accessed on a mobile device, eco-friendly materials and products manufactured in the United States.
Amazon is seen as the e-commerce industry standard in streamlined shopping experiences that furniture stores must compete with to enjoy a strong market presence. Among furniture giants Wayfair.com is an industry leader in e-commerce, followed by Furniture.com and Hautelook.com as well as Unlimited Furniture Group, Joss & Main, and All Modern and Dwell Studio. Consumers can also find fashionable boutique furniture stores like FurnitureModern.com or Go Modern USA when they’re searching for modern furniture on-line, but these major stores currently own the market.
Wayfair carries a variety of lightweight furnishings and accessories from area rugs to wall art, statues and decorative vases, boxes and bowls. They cater to a variety of styles, from the eclectic to traditional, and specialize in decor. Furniture.com specializes in larger furniture pieces like sofas, dining room sets and recliners. The on-line shopping experience is tailored to availability at retailers near a customer’s zip code, so that delivery can be handled locally.
Haute look uses a flash sale model and offers fashion brands at 75% off retail. A subsidiary of Nordstrom, it has more than 15 million on-line subscribers. It carries fashion as well as furniture, décor and beauty supplies.
Joss & Main carries traditional and transitional furniture in wood and elegant upholstery. Their bedroom sets are generously sized, and their outdoor patio sets have an elegant, contemporary style that would be suitable for an upscale winery deck. They also carry fashionable fully upholstered pet beds and seasonal floral centerpieces.
All Modern’s Dwell Studio collection carries furniture for offices and homes, in a minimalist aesthetic with very modern lines and simple colors. They also carry outdoor furniture and unique contemporary furniture like stylized bookshelves and display cabinets with asymmetrical joined wooden shelves in black and white.
At Unlimited Furniture Group’s website, consumers can buy modern furniture on-line in contemporary and transitional styles, from bedroom sets to living room accent pieces; their generously built sectionals come in bold colors and striking profiles. Their fashionable beds run from $4,000 to $5,000. The headboards are especially ornate in this collection – Unlimited Furniture Group caters to more contemporary tastes rather than modern furniture styles or minimalist interior design.
Experts say that when starting an e-commerce furniture site, building loyalty is harder than in-store. Consumers have some trepidation about shopping for heavy pieces like sofas and sectionals with high shipping costs when they shop for modern furniture on-line. They are more inclined to shop for home décor on-line than make major investments in larger pieces of furniture. Rolling shipping costs into the price tag can help prevent sticker shock at on-line check out.