You wouldn’t think that bulky furniture and heavy appliances would be the ideal products for the ecommerce world. After all, furniture.com was among the companies that became symbols for the dot.com bust of the early 2000s.
But that’s ancient history. And while it’s true the home goods sector has been slow to shift online as fast as other verticals, there is every indication that its online evolution is accelerating significantly, according to a “Risk & Reward: The Home Goods Industry’s Digital Transformation,” Signifyd’s deep dive into the sector.
Risk & Reward: The Home Goods Industry’s Digital Transformation
The report, which explores the current state and examines the challenges and potential that the home goods vertical faces, says that year-over-year growth of online sales of furniture, appliances and home goods increased 38 percent in 2016. The growth is a natural result of consumers growing more comfortable with buying online — including products that historically were rarely purchased digitally.
Retailers are stepping up their online home goods game
Retailers are doing their part, too, turning to augmented reality to allow online shoppers to get an idea of how that sofa is going to look in the living room. It’s all part of that often-cited “seamless experience,” in which consumers are flitting among different digital devices and brick-and-mortar stores to compare products, prices and ultimately buy.
In fact, the report cites a PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey that found that 33 percent of consumers now say they’d rather buy appliances online.
There is definitely a shift underway. Amazon, which aspires to be the everything store, is building warehouses designed specifically to handle the kind of bulky products that define the home goods sector. Retailers like Jerome’s and Structube are building strong omnichannel businesses and big name pure plays have even burst onto the furniture scene.
Ecommerce fraud is a business
And, of course, like any sector growing online, the home goods industry is dealing with ever-changing fraud threats. Despite the fact that home goods are hard to transport and store, they are high-value, meaning profitable, and tend to be desirable, meaning re-sellable. Fraud rings operate criminal business enterprises and so when it comes to furniture and appliances, they have shipping and receiving plans, just like a legitimate seller would.
The Signifyd report, for instance, includes the story of a private investigator whose fraud investigation brought her to a warehouse of stolen goods.
But as “Risk & Reward: The Home Goods Industry’s Digital Transformation” points out, retailers would be wise to concentrate on the strong tail winds and focus on ways to ride them to greater success and profitability.
Contact Mike Cassidy at m[email protected]; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.