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Factoids offer brief snapshots of current topics pertinent to the Furniture industry based on our on-going research. Increase your grasp of current trends, consumer attitudes, and shifts within the industry through solid statistics and concise insight.

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The Rise of E-Commerce in Furniture Manufacturing and the Merchant Wholesale Trade: Percent of E-Commerce in Furniture and Home Furnishings Retail Sales, Furniture Manufacturing Shipments, and Merchant Wholesaler Shipments

This is the first of a two part series of factoids on e-commerce in the furniture industry. This series of four factoids addresses furniture manufacturing and merchant wholesalers. A report from the Census Bureau shows business to business (B2B) e-shipments within the furniture and related manufacturing segment is now approaching 51 percent of the value of total shipments or $35.2 billion dollars in 2014. The Census Bureau defines manufacturers’ shipments to include “orders accepted for manufactured products from customers, including shipments to other domestic plants”.

The product categories included in data published by the Census Bureau may differ somewhat between furniture manufacturing shipments, merchant wholesaler shipments, and retail sales; however, the trend in e-commerce is the same. (See Methodology and Definitions box below.)

As of 2014, e-commerce accounts for over half (50.6 percent) of all furniture and related product shipments – up from 14.4 percent in 2004. During the same time period, e-commerce sales of furniture and home furnishings within the retail trade sector increased 503 percent – representing 15.3 percent of total retail dollars. While e-commerce among the merchant wholesale trade of furniture and home furnishings increased steadily since 2004, the share of overall sales have remained stagnant since 2009 – increasing from 14.3 to 14.4 percent.

Methodology and Definitions

E-Commerce shipments (e-shipments) are online orders accepted for manufactured products from customers, including shipments to other domestic plants of the same company for further manufacture, assembly, or fabrication where price and terms of sale are negotiated over the Internet, Extranet, EDI network, electronic mail, or other online system. Payment may or may not be online. – U.S. Census Bureau

Merchant wholesale firms are those that take title to the goods they sell. Agents and brokers are not included in the wholesale E-Stats estimates. – U.S. Census Bureau

Retail sales and Merchant Wholesale shipments include furniture and home furnishings. Industries in the Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing subsector make furniture and related articles, such as mattresses, window blinds, cabinets, and fixtures. The processes used in the manufacture of furniture include the cutting, bending, molding, laminating, and assembly of such materials as wood, metal, glass, plastics, and rattan. However, the production process for furniture is not solely bending metal, cutting and shaping wood, or extruding and molding plastics. 

Sources: Impact Consulting Services, Inc. proprietary industry model and U.S. Census Bureau’s E-Commerce Report issued June7, 2016 covering years 2002 to 2014.

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FastFact: B2B E-commerce Follows Same Trend as Retail Furniture Sales
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