Over the last five years people have become much more comfortable branching out and buying things you’d normally buy in a store, online. Now it’s not uncommon to hear about people who buy all their pet food, cleaning products, groceries, etc. all online. Rewind ten years ago and most people were scared to take the plunge, for many, buying online had too many unknowns.
Today, it’s fair to say that companies like Amazon and Jet have paved the way for buying just about anything online and trusting that if it doesn’t work out, there’s essentially a giant undo button you can press, in the form of a return.
Here’s the catch.
It’s easy to return things like clothes, books, pet food, etc. but what about returning a couch or a kitchen table? Well this isn’t quite as easy but at the same time it’s not as hard as you might think. Think about it, online retailers definitely know that this is one of the biggest fears consumer have when thinking about buying furniture online so they often have more flexible and generous return policies for furniture than they do for other items.
Online furniture retailer Article has a very easy return policy that makes the process of returning a sofa or kitchen table that you don’t like incredibly easy.
We understand you want your home décor to be just right. This is why we offer a 30 days no-questions asked return policy with no-restocking fees. If within 30 days you decide that you are not completely satisfied, we will come, pick up the furniture and will provide you a refund minus the delivery and pickup charges. (Source – Article.com/returns)
Jet.com also has an easy solution for returning oversized items like furniture by using Jet Heads who will actually come to your home or business and pick up the item. You simply call a toll free number or shoot them an email and they’ll schedule a pickup and as long as it’s within a 30-day window, and you didn’t opt out of their free return policy, then there’s actually no charge either.
It should also come as no surprise that retail giant Amazon is making a major push into the furniture space. To support this push Amazon is building four warehouses specifically for large bulky items to streamline the process. Furniture also happens to be one of the fastest growing categories at Amazon, so while you might not have bought your last couch there…your neighbor very well might have.
Veenu Taneja, general manager of furniture at Amazon, told The Wall Street Journal that the segment is one of the fastest growing retail categories at Amazon. The company has an estimated 17% market share in home furnishings, according to Morgan Stanley. (Source – Forbes)
Shopping for furniture online offers consumers significantly more choice, customization options, and a lot more. The challenge now is getting people to realize that what might have been a challenging and cumbersome process five years ago, has gotten a whole lot easier. With big market leaders like Amazon and Jet putting a strong focus on furniture you can expect to see this innovation only continue to accelerate.
Whenever innovation accelerates, some of the older, slower retailers tend to also find themselves stuck in the mud. There’s no doubt that buying furniture online from a more traditional retailer is a pretty high friction process, and the divide between them and the innovators is only going to grow over the next year.
The big question is – if you’re one of the older, slower retailers, what can you do to innovate now and stay in the game?