E-commerce and the Furniture Industry Brick and Mortar Stores E-commerce Mail Order Retailers
This is the third factoid in a series of five factoids detailing the rise of e-commerce in the furniture industry. As many brick and mortar stores search for strategies to compete with giant online retailers, those same retailers are looking for ways to remain profitable.
Brick and Mortar Stores E-commerce
While the success of online retailing among brick and mortar merchants has increased over the years, the e-commerce sales comparison remains vast between brick and mortar stores and pure e-commerce retailers. E-commerce sales among combined furniture and home furnishings stores jumped 200 percent from $367 million to $1.1 billion 2006 to 2016 but furniture stores only held one percent of that volume. (Note: 2017 data has not yet been released.)
Comparing combined furniture and home furnishings stores to other retail brick and mortar companies, furniture and home furnishings stores lag behind in percent of e-commerce sales to total sales but has shown 25 percent growth from 2014 to 2016. Just reaching 3.0 percent in 2016, clothing and clothing accessories stores have the highest volume of e-commerce sales as a percent of total sales among brick and mortar retail store types.
Mail Order Retailers
Technically the mail order business is a small part of the furniture industry but the lines between mail order and e-commerce are blurring and print catalogs are making somewhat of a comeback as another media to reach out and touch the consumer. Data from the Census Bureau and Impact Consulting’s FurnitureCore.com industry model estimates the furniture mail order business at $2.3 billion in 2017, only 2.2 percent of industry sales. These sales were flat compared to the previous year. And according to the U.S. Postal Service and research by Data & Marketing Assn., in 2016, consumers are getting fewer catalogs in the mail compared to the glory days. In 2016 9.8 billion catalogs of all types reached American mailboxes compared to double that amount in 2007.
Despite the gloomy statistics, last year saw evidence that print catalogs are resurging but not in traditional mail order formats. For example, home furnishings e-commerce giant Wayfair produced its first print catalog at the end of 2016 and continues to roll them out. Wayfair claims its catalogs are meant to inspire a lifestyle as opposed to promoting a brand.
Research points to several reasons print catalogs are growing. First, consumers are getting less and less mail overall as the “paperless” movement has become popular and therefore catalogs now stand out in consumer mailboxes. Also, the advertising clutter in email boxes along with saturation in social media has driven companies to give the old fashioned catalog another look. Plus, software ad blockers are causing fewer marketing messages to actually reach the consumer. And finally, research by Data & Marketing Assn. suggests simply that Millennials really do like them.