Retailer Web Services Digital Advisor Fall 2017 - Page 8

COVER FEATURE AMAZON IS COMING TO FURNITURE AND APPLIANCE RETAIL 6 Tips to Help Independent Retailers Prepare particularly, has grabbed recent headlines. “I ’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in!” bellowed the infamous Big Bad Wolf to each of the enterprising Three Little Pigs. But as it turns out, the wolf was unable to defeat the pig that built his house from bricks. In today’s digital age, the iconic fairy tale would take an ironic twist: The pig that built the brick house would still prevail, but only if his online house was in order, too. Sound familiar? The force of Amazon is, indeed, blowing through brick-and-mortar retail. The biggest names in the business are reducing store counts and focusing online, or in some cases, closing altogether. And while the online house that Jeff Bezos built has toppled retail segments including apparel, electronics, books and entertainment— to name a few—the online retail giant is set on expanding into durable home goods. Amazon’s interest in furniture, 8 A May 12 Wall Street Journal article, “Amazon Makes Major Push Into Furniture,” noted that Amazon is building at least four warehouses focused specifically on handling bulky items. Amazon has a history of looking to the fastest-growing segments of US online retail. According to Barclays, furniture is second only to groceries in terms of online growth, which in itself was a foreshadowing of Amazon’s huge bid for Whole Foods in June. Veenu Taneja, furniture general manager at Amazon, underscores their strategy in the article, saying, “Furniture is one of the fastest-growing retail categories here at Amazon.” Also in May, industry trade publication Furniture Today reported on Amazon’s interest in the furniture market, “Amazon Building Furniture Warehouses,” adding that a new collaboration with Ethan Allen will establish a design studio on Amazon.com. Senior Retail Editor Clint Engel goes on to say that Amazon representatives have been making the rounds at durable goods conferences, encouraging retailers to participate in their marketplace by announcing the elimination of their previous national delivery requirement for furniture sellers. Appliance and mattress retailers are not immune from Amazon’s plans. In March, the New York Times ran an article, “Amazon’s Ambitions Unboxed: Stores for Furniture, Appliances and More,” that said Amazon is looking into opening physical retail locations to sell furniture and appliances. Amazon already has eight physical Amazon Books stores, one each in New Jersey, N