The days of couples spending their weekends walking around furniture showrooms could soon become a thing of the past as online sales for big-ticket items like beds, sofas and tables continue to soar.
Online shopping for furniture and homeware had already been becoming more popular before the Covid-19 pandemic due to convenience of being able to browse collections at any time and in any place. But with lockdown forcing all bricks and mortar furniture stores to close their doors in March 2020, customers began to change their habits and start viewing the internet as the go-to place to buy furniture.
The restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 also meant that people were spending more time in their homes than ever before. This stimulated demand for homeware and furniture as customers decided to try and make the best of their situation by improving their surroundings with new purchases.
During 2020, online sales of home products rose by almost 75 per cent, according to the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index. And the growth of online sales in general was the highest it had been in 13 years.
In December 2020, online furniture sales were up 63 per cent compared to the previous year. Much of this growth was experienced by multichannel retailers who normally sell a large proportion of their products in shops and showrooms, while businesses that had always operated solely online saw their sales remain steady.
According to a recent IBISWorld report, there are now 505 businesses selling home furnishings online, employing a total of 6,807 people. The report predicted that these retailers would continue to benefit from the growing demand for online shopping, following the surge during the height of the pandemic.
It cited the rising penetration of devices like tablets and smartphones which can access the internet as a reason that online furniture sales would remain strong. And government-backed schemes and initiatives designed to stimulate the housing market will also see more customers investing in furniture and homeware for their new homes.
Increased sales have fuelled demand for storage and fulfilment solutions
The huge increase in online furniture sales has seen a rising demand for companies providing third party logistics (3PL) services like AP+. Many new and growing online furniture firms do not have their own warehouses or distribution facilities so storing stock and sending it out to customers can be a challenge.
AP+ specialises in meeting this demand and offers end-to-end 3PL, storage and fulfilment solutions to companies operating in the furniture and homeware industries. We have a purpose-built 300,000 sq ft facility in a convenient and central UK location where we can store stock for our clients and then send it out directly to their customers when orders are placed.
In addition to providing warehouse space, our services include picking, packing, distributing and returns management. AP+ has recently invested in state-of-the art technology to provide the infrastructure needed to cope with the rising demand fuelled by online furniture sales.
This included a new cloud-based order management system (OMS) and warehouse management system (WMS) which means the inventory can be checked, traced and updated in real time. Our carrier comparison software automatically compares quotes from more than 80 carriers so we can always pick the best one to fulfil a particular order, ensuring customer satisfaction, reducing cost and minimising the risk of delays.
As a company, we have also established both offline and automated stock control systems, integrating with 60 different e-commerce platforms.
To find out more about how AP+ can help online furniture retailers manage their day-to-day business, contact the team today.