Vertical Focus: Home Goods
During March 2020, online browsing for furniture increased by more than 200% as illustrated by a 242% increase in online browsing for desks, a 260% increase for outdoor furniture, and a 205% increase for home decor, finds a new V12 survey on how consumer shopping behavior is changing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Although most home furnishing retailers closed their showrooms, consumers continued to actively shop online for furniture, especially while they were confined to their homes," says Andy Frawley, chief executive officer of V12. "Many furniture brands made the pivot to digital channels by implementing stronger e-commerce options and contactless home delivery services to capitalize on these opportunities."
These trends follow recent statistics finding that sales of outdoor furniture increased by more than 428% in March 2020 as compared to February, according to digital advertising firm Criteo.
"The demand is clearly out there," says Anders Ekman, president of V12. "But brands need to evolve with the times to put programs in place to identify and convert consumers who are in-market now."
Coming Back Home
People are looking at their homes through fresh eyes since they were forced to spend more time there thanks to COVID-19. Their desire to change things up has many home goods retailers posting record-breaking e-commerce sales.
E-commerce checkout platform Bolt reports that nearly all its sellers in the furniture category saw revenue growth during the pandemic.
Home goods retailer Wayfair reports "millions" of new customers as people hunkered down in the pandemic, says chief executive officer Niraj Shah. "The broader market disruption has highlighted the differentiated advantages we have built in e-commerce over the past two decades."
The Sill has also seen online sales take root. The indoor potted plants retailer reports a 50% increase in orders compared to pre-pandemic months in 2020.
Some were surprised when home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond announced its digital sales were up 16% in March 2020. The brand had been criticized for poor e-commerce execution and was working on a transformation.
During the pandemic, Bed Bath & Beyond ramped up its fulfillment network by converting darkened stores into regional fulfillment centers. "The company has sold a lot more bread makers and vacuum cleaners than it did at this time last year," says chief executive officer Mark Tritton.
Seed Sales Sprout
Many consumers took doubts about the U.S. food supply into their own hands and planted gardens during the COVID-19 lockdown. Seed companies are enjoying the fruits of that labor.
- U.S. seed company W. Atlee Burpee & Co sold more seed than any time in its 144-year history in March 2020.
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Fairfield, Maine, saw a 270% jump in orders the week of March 16, 2020, after COVID-19 was declared a national emergency.
- Canada-based Stokes Seeds, which ships to the United States and Canada, received 1,000 online orders during the weekend of March 21, 2020—four times more than normal. The company temporarily halted all online orders and is prioritizing orders from commercial vegetable growers "to ensure our food security this summer," according to its website.
- In Russia, demand for seeds rose by 20% to 30% year on year in March 2020, according to online retailer Ozon.
- Territorial Seed Company of Cottage Grove, Oregon, temporarily stopped taking phone orders due to a surge in demand, and reassigned some phone workers to physically fulfill online orders.