REPRINTED FROM ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST
Sales made through Blueport Commerce increased more than 300 percent from the previous April
By Tim Nelson May 6, 2020
For furniture retailers, the widespread shutdowns caused by COVID-19 had initially proven disastrous. The first weeks of the pandemic saw the category suffer steep, double-digit declines as the ability to browse offline disappeared. But business didn’t dry up entirely, as some of that displaced demand shifted online.
Now, new April data shows just how quickly shopping for furniture online has become the new normal. According to a press release from home furnishings–focused e-commerce platform Blueport Commerce, furniture retailers on the platform (which includes members of the Furniture Today Top 100) saw their online sales increase by an average of 306% over April 2019. In fact, total sales across the platform were 81% greater than what was observed last November, a busy sales period for the furniture industry which included Black Friday, but not Cyber Monday, in 2019.
Just as total sales increased in April, so did the average order size for furniture retailers. The value of the average sale across the platform increased by 27% to $1,210. Top-selling categories included sofas, living room sets, and dining sets. That suggests these sales bumps weren’t simply the result of customers rushing to furnish their new home offices, but a potentially more sustainable shift. Based on the evidence, it would seem that some furniture retailers have had enough time to adapt their sales and marketing strategies to fit a new, fully-online world.
“Turning to digital channels to reach their shoppers, furniture retailers amped up digital marketing and their social media presence,” Blueport founder and CEO Carl Prindle tells AD PRO. “They deployed chat and video conferencing technologies to enable their salespeople to consult with shoppers. They also used their in-house delivery capabilities to tune delivery methods, ensuring safe deliveries and putting shoppers at ease.”
Subsequently, a number of retailers generated enough online sales to keep pace with or at least close the gap on their pre-pandemic projections.
“Retailers generated a meaningful portion of the brick-and-mortar revenue they had anticipated for April, despite all of their stores being closed,” Prindle says. “Some retailers actually grew total sales relative to last April, when they had their stores open.”
The data here is only a small snapshot of what’s happening in the retail sector, and furniture retailers would obviously prefer to return to a world where they can also make sales in stores. But as brands have augmented their sales efforts and customers have adjusted their expectations, there’s reason to believe that the furniture industry may make it through the pandemic more or less intact.