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The Omnichannel Inflection Point – Takeaways from the NEXT Conference and More

By Blueport Team Oct 9, 2018 8:42:43 AM

These sure are dynamic times to be in the business of furniture! That’s my take-away from the news headlines over the past few months and the themes coming out of the 2018 NEXT Conference.


Pulled from the Headlines

The National Retail Federations released a report in partnership with Forrester earlier this year that highlights the merging of physical and digital retail. Mark Matthews, NRF Vice President, noted that “this report shows more than ever that retail is retail regardless of where a sale is made or how the product is delivered.”

Furniture shopping now begins online with consumers researching products before they go to a store. Some retailers like West Elm and Pottery Barn see more than half of sales coming through ecommerce. And retailers who have figured out their Omnichannel strategy are seeing big results. Just take a look at the Q2 earnings report from Lovesac, the Stamford CT-based retailer of modular sectional sofas that reported huge comp growth increases on both their showroom and internet sales.


2018 NEXT Conference

The rapid pace of change makes gatherings like the NEXT Conference an ideal environment to engage in conversation, share success stories, and take the pulse of the industry. This year’s NEXT Conference in Austin, TX did not disappoint.

I gave a NEXTech talk on the macro Omnichannel trends and hosted a breakout session titled Achieving Omnichannel Excellence: Who is Ahead of the Pack and Who is Falling Behind? Speakers from the furniture industry and beyond talked about reinventing retail, consumer shopping behaviors, bringing the store and the web together, and more.

Andy Long, Head of Sales at Blueport, noted, “It’s certainly an exciting time to be in the retail furniture business. It was great to speak with so many retailers who are heading into Q4 with a positive outlook ready to embrace change.”

As always, the best part of the conference was the many insightful conversations that occurred during the networking breaks and cocktail hours. So much information to take in and share!


Omnichannel Furniture Benchmarking

All of this news and all of the themes coming out of the NEXT Conference suggest that the furniture industry is at an inflection point. We live in an Omnichannel world and those retailers that master this dynamic will be tomorrow’s winners. But how does a retailer know where to begin? And will making incremental improvements each year be enough? Those are difficult questions to answer but we can offer some guidance.

Blueport just released our fourth annual Blue(re)port: 2018 Omnichannel Furniture Benchmarking that includes a comprehensive analysis of 125 furniture retailer websites and 60 ecommerce features that enable the Omnichannel furniture shopping experience from start to finish. And for those 125 retailers that appear in the report, Blueport is offering a customized version of the results that includes specific insights into your Omnichannel results and competitive analysis of where you stack up against three competitors of your choice. In these dynamic times, it sure is helpful to have a roadmap for what website features represent the most (and least) value.


What’s Ahead?

Big sales days are ahead as we look to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and President’s Day. Certainly, this is a time when we all have a hyper-focus on holiday execution. It’s even more critical for furniture retailers to take a hard look at their 2019 and 2020 plans. Brands like Lovesac and Art Van undertook ecommerce re-platform efforts in 2017 that enabled them to make huge competitive advances in 2018 as seen in our Benchmarking Report. In contrast, those retailers who made only incremental website changes or have yet to implement a seamless approach to retail were left behind.


How do you feel about your Omnichannel business in 2019? Contact us today to let us know your thoughts – we’d love to hear from you.

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