Top 10 Home Furnishing Retailers


Editor's note: Click here for the "Top 100 Retailers of 2018"

The home furnishing market is estimated to be worth over $220 billion in the U.S., with online penetration less than 10%. With so much room for growth in the online space, savvy retailers are gearing up their offerings to capture market share in this lucrative segment.

Wells Fargo Securities and Fluid Inc. teamed up to research the home furnishings market and the recently release "Home (.com) Is Where the Heart Is" report details their findings. They examined the top 14 home furnishing retailers to determine which provide the best user experience and service/offering online. Each retailer was examined in seven key categories: inspiration; content; product info; search-ability; social; payment, fulfillment, and customer service; post purchase; and the mobile experience.

Within each category retailers were awarded points for a variety of metrics (47 total), with a total score of 48.5 being considered perfect. The report divided the retailers as multichannel and pure-play retailers with some interesting results — overall quantitative scores ranged from 15.5-31.8 for the multichannel retailers and from 19.9-25.6 for the pure plays.
Key takeaways include:

  • Lack of home-specific features. The overall landscape does not offer much for customers who want to “play interior designer” while shopping for home furnishings online. By offering room planners, styleboards, and customizable looks retailers can gain a competitive advantage.
  • Multichannel retailers outpace the pure-plays. Multichannel retailers beat pure plays in the search-ability, product info, inspiration, content, and post purchase categories. Online retailers scored higher than the multichannel retailers in the categories that assess the shipping/fulfillment/customer service and mobile experience.
  • Mobile experience lacks distinction. A mobile presence needs to be more about just accessing a site “anywhere anytime,” it should provide special features for the on-the-go user like geolocation or a scanner. Most multichannel retailers simply have mobile optimized sites that replicate the desktop experience.
  • Customer Voice Absent. None of the sites analyzed have a specific community area for customers to ask and answer questions, and only West Elm has an integrated social feed (Pinterest activity) that surfaces the voice of customers from its social channels.

The top 10 home goods retailers online were:

#1 West Elm. Overall West Elm ranked No. 1 among the multichannel retailers with attributes specific to the home category (e.g., room planning tools and the availability of a registry app that includes a product scanner). Offering next day shipping options (and more free shipping), product reviews, and ship to store/inventory lookup functionality would even further enhance the company’s digital offering. Quantitative Score: 31.8.
#2 Pottery Barn. The site excelled in search-ability, product info, content, and originality, with helpful, differentiated features like an interactive room planner. The company received the highest score in the post purchase category, with the most seamless returns process and the best post-purchase follow-up. Quantitative Score: 30.9.
#3 Williams-Sonoma. Williams-Sonoma’s brands West Elm, Pottery Barn, and Williams-Sonoma ranked No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3, respectively, largely driven by high scores in inspiration, content, and originality, including features that are particular to the home category. Quantitative Score: 28.9.
#4 World Market. The company offers ship to store, store inventory lookup, free shipping on orders of more than $150, and in-store pickup. The lack of mobile-specific content and a heavy promotional feel of the site take away from the overall experience. Quantitative Score: 28.9.
#5 Crate & Barrel. Multichannel features like ship to store and store inventory lookup stand out from the group, and the company offers a best-in-class multichannel registry. There are many ways to shop, sort, and filter on the site, and the retailer has a good mobile-optimized site and app. Quantitative Score: 28.1.
#6 Bed Bath & Beyond. Bed Bath & Beyond scored above average on the quantitative scorecard (27.1 versus the average of 24.6), driven by strong scores in website functionality and multichannel features. Despite recent improvements to its website, the company is likely losing share to Amazon given the high overlap in certain branded categories like kitchen electrics and a competitive pricing environment. Quantitative Score: 27.1.
#7 Overstock. Overstock ranked No. 1 of the pure-play online retailers tested. The long list of features and functionality is what put Overstock at the top of the pure-play retailers including: wide selection of product videos; live chat; Bitcoin, BillMeLater, Rewards Pay, and PayPal acceptance; and free shipping for purchases of more than $50. Quantitative Score: 25.65.
#8 Room & Board. The company ranked high in the inspiration category, but scored low marks in payment, fulfillment, and customer service as the company lacks free shipping, a next-day shipping option, live chat, and delivery estimates. Quantitative Score: 23.0.
#9 Amazon. Despite being the leader in eCommerce and excelling in categories like search-ability and payment/fulfillment/customer service, Amazon missed the mark in the inspiration and content categories. Amazon has made strides in adding discovery and inspirational elements to several categories like clothing/shoes/jewelry, luxury beauty and kids/baby, but home still remains a category with room for significant improvement. Quantitative Score: 22.0.
#10 Hayneedle. The company offers gift messaging, several alternative payment options, free shipping on all orders of more than $49.99, and an e-mail coupon post-purchase offering 10% off of a future purchase. Quantitative Score: 21.9.

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