What does At Home know that Amazon, Wayfair and other online furniture sellers do not?
Furniture is among the fastest growing categories online with retailers including Amazon.com, IKEA, Wayfair.com, Williams-Sonoma and others vying for share of market. Despite the rush to gain a sales edge online, not everyone is following suit as evidenced by At Home, a fast growing chain of big box furniture stores.
The retailer, which plans to grow its store count from 129 at the end of the first quarter to more than 600, has a website that focuses on providing visitors with information about its extensive inventory of more than 50,000 SKUs, but offers no option for completing the purchase online.
Lee Bird, At Home’s chairman and CEO, told analysts on the chain’s first quarter earnings call that unique visitors to the company’s website had increased 40 percent over the last year. He said research has shown that home décor consumers go online to see selection and price before buying. They then go to stores to “see, touch and feel and take it (purchases) home immediately.”
At Home posted a sales gain of 23 percent in the first quarter, the company’s twelfth consecutive quarter of over 20 percent net growth. Same-store sales for the chain increased 5.8 percent, marking the thirteenth straight quarter of positive comps.
The chain has used target e-mail campaigns to increase awareness of the At Home brand and drive traffic to its website and stores. Mr. Bird said, “We have more than doubled the size of our e-mail database for six straight quarters.”
Roughly 15 percent of the $70 billion market for furniture in the U.S. is now conducted online, according to IBISWorld.
- At Home Group Inc. Announces First Quarter Fiscal 2018 Financial Results – At Home Group Inc.
- At Home Group’s CEO Lee Bird on Q1 2018 Results (Earnings Call Transcript) – Seeking Alpha
- Plan-based At Home bucks retail trends without an online store – The Dallas Morning News
- Will Amazon dominate the online furniture market? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of At Home’s current approach to using its website to drive sales at the chain? Do you think it will move to add an e-commerce option in light of the amount of furniture sales that have moved online?