I was sitting at home yesterday when my doorbell rang. I opened the door, and no one was there. Instead, I noticed a box sitting on my front step. I grabbed the box and opened it up. Inside was everything from hand towels and sheets to spices and a little plastic cube that keeps your toothbrush clean after you use it. So I asked my wife, “When did you order all this?” And she looked at me, smiled and said, “Yesterday.”
The scary part about this little story is this it is happening every day. In fact, total online sales for 2018 hit $514 billion – with a projected growth of more than 15% for 2019. And while home furnishing sales are only a small fraction of that number, they are on the rise. What’s even more interesting is that global e-commerce sales have been steadily eating up the worldwide retail market; by 2021, they will account for 17.5% of the total global retail sales. If you think about it, that portion is still a small chunk of the global retail sales, which means more opportunity for growth in the future.
E-com shopping is not coming. It is not on the horizon. It is here. And it is not going away.
Not that long-ago, Blockbuster ruled the movie world. But it didn’t take them long to discover how powerful this “website / internet thing” was. And while furniture and mattresses are less e-commerce friendly than electronics and household goods, home furnishing brick and mortar stores are continuing to feel the pain and lose share to this “website / internet thing.”
Online sites such as Wayfair, Amazon and Casper are cracking the code and learning how to make it easy for consumers to purchase home furnishings online. Their websites are very user-friendly, shipping the goods is second nature, and they make it easy from start to finish.
I say that to say this: The independent brick and mortar furniture store do not need to fear Wayfair. They need to attack it. They need to go on the offensive and become part of this multi-billion-dollar segment of the home furnishings industry.
Here at PrimeTime, Nationwide Marketing Group will have many ways to help you go on the attack.
One of the key components in this e-commerce world is finding the right furniture manufacturers to help you thrive. There are many manufacturers that say they can do e-commerce for independents, and then there are manufacturers that actually have the infrastructure to make it happen. The key is to find the partner that best fits what you are trying to accomplish.
Some manufacturers are finding themselves late to the party and are just starting to realize the opportunity that e-commerce provides. But many of the Nationwide vendor partners have been vetted for this sole purpose and can work closely with you to not only get you in the e-commerce game but help you succeed. These are the manufacturer-partners you want and need in your life.
Once the right manufacturers are chosen, your website needs to be ready for consumer purchases, with pricing, shopping carts and more. Nationwide’s Retailer Web Services (RWS) and Site on Time work diligently to be best in class, giving you the resources you need to compete in your marketplace.
If having pricing on your site worries you, dedicate a section of your website to online purchases and only feature products that can be shipped to the consumer’s home directly from your chosen manufacturers. Your website will need to have current products, be user friendly and let consumers know that the product can be shipped right to their front door. And someone on your team will need to oversee this process daily. It requires an investment, but the investment will pay off if it is managed correctly.
Times have changed. Many moms and dads are not taking their kids furniture and mattress shopping all day on a Saturday anymore – they’re too busy and want a simpler option. They want to be able to browse the internet on a Tuesday evening, and immediately select a new sofa for the living room or a new desk for their kid’s bedroom. It’s happening every day.
So, here’s the question you need to ask yourself: Can these consumers purchase and have everything they want shipped to their homes from your website?
If not, another independent has lost a sale to a sleeping giant that no one thought about just a few years ago. Meanwhile, there’s a former Blockbuster executive somewhere who is still regretting saying those four little words to his CEO years ago: “Websites – who needs ‘em?”
Jeff Rose is director of furniture and bedding for Nationwide Marketing Group