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From Home Furnishing Business

Finding Balance

Uncover the perfect mix between online and in-store sales for success. 

BY SHEILA LONG O’MARA 

CONSUMERS TODAY HAVE  nearly limitless venues in which to shop for everything, including furniture. The local, family-owned furniture store on the corner, the big regional chain, large independent retailers, an abundance of lifestyle retailers—the list goes on and on.

 Add the Internet and its growing list of online shopping sites to that list, and the choices are nearly too big to compute.

E-commerce has taken off, and the Internet has become a shopper’s first stop prior to buying most things, including furniture. Sometimes she buys online; sometimes she doesn’t, but she always starts her search online before venturing into a store.

I could be wrong—it’s happened before—but I don’t foresee a future where the majority of consumers buy the bulk of their home furnishings online. Instead, I see a healthy balance between brick-and-mortar business and online sales.

There are a number of e-retailers outside the scope of home furnishings who have stepped into the physical store space to boost and grow their brands. Take a look at Google. The tech giant opened its first store this spring to sell its Android phones, tablets and other gadgets.

Think Google is too far-fetched from furniture? Let’s move closer with apparel, a category that many folks have gotten comfortable buying online.

Menswear retailer Frank & Oak jumped into retail in the online space. Earlier this year, buoyed by $15 million in funding, the company opened several locations in Canada and is currently on the hunt for six new spots. Even more fun—the retailer is asking its customers to choose the six from 12 prospective locations.

Never heard of Frank & Oak? Fair point. How about Zappos? The online shoe and clothing retailer has tossed its hat into the store arena with pop-up stores. The first was in Las Vegas over the holidays and another was in Seattle this summer. Others are planned throughout the year.

The common theme among these e-commerce retailers is that they see physical stores as a way to broaden their reach; a means to give consumers a space in which they can see and touch the wares before buying.

It’s a balance; a finely tuned harmony between the online and in-store that should exist for success.

In this issue, we explore e-commerce and share insight from retailers who are making it work and experts who understand the subject and how to help home furnishings retailers create a dynamic, online experience.

Enjoy the read.




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