Here at Blueport, our teams spend time analyzing trends in furniture ecommerce so that we can keep our custom-built ecommerce platform ahead of the curve. Our 2018 Omnichannel Furniture Benchmarking report, which will be released in September, shows that more than 1/3 of furniture retailers now sell products that are shipped directly to consumers– or “drop shipped”.
The rise in drop ship programs is not a surprise given the increased competition from Pure-plays like Amazon. Drop shipping provides an opportunity to broaden product offerings to include items that a standard parcel shipping service can handle. This allows retailers to tap into products that are less efficient to deliver through their usual white-glove service. Overhead costs tend to be low for drop ship programs, and businesses can scale quickly since there’s no need to keep inventory on-hand.
Most importantly, drop ship programs mean more options for customers, typically at a lower price point and with the convenience of parcel shipping.
So why aren’t more retailers incorporating drop ship? We think the biggest challenge is providing a great customer experience on the website. Customers need to clearly understand which products are drop ship and the accompanying shipping details. Retailers need the flexibility to merchandise and promote these products differently on the website.
When Levin Furniture, a retailer on the Blueport Platform and part of the Art Van family of brands, wanted to add drop ship items, they relied on Blueport’s technology to make it happen. In addition to the challenges I mentioned above, Levin’s gave us an additional challenge: all drop ship products include free shipping.
For Levin’s, we focused on integrating drop ship seamlessly into the features that set the Blueport Platform apart in order to continue delivering an ideal online shopping experience.
Retailer sites on the Blueport Platform immediately geolocate shoppers and update products and prices to match their local store. With drop ship, Levin’s can now send drop ship products to customers outside their store delivery areas in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Upon arriving at the site, icons on the header immediately tell shoppers how they can get their products on levinfurniture.com.
Availability Information on the Product Page
The Blueport Platform allows retailers to show availability information directly on the product page by integrating with retailers’ existing inventory systems. On product pages for drop ship items, Levin’s still delivers this information to shoppers, giving confidence to make the purchase and preventing confusion after checkout.
Smart Shopping Cart and Checkout
The challenges of selling furniture and other big-ticket items online demand a smart shopping cart that makes the checkout process go smoothly. Shoppers who check out with Blueport retailers can already choose to pick up their items in-store or schedule a delivery. When building out drop ship functionality, we made the cart and checkout even smarter, enabling it to support any item on the shipping page and waive shipping charges for drop ship items. The result is a clear and easy checkout process that is familiar to shoppers because it’s similar to what they see on leading ecommerce sites like Amazon.
At Blueport, we believe the most successful furniture retailers will be the ones who can deliver a leading ecommerce experience while preserving what is great about their brick-and-mortar model. With the addition of drop shippable items, Levin’s is competing with Pure-plays while maintaining the service and convenience that customers have come to expect.
Interested in learning more about how a drop ship program could work on your website? Contact us today!