Online Marketplace Keeps Pace

CHICAGO - The online marketplace is growing, and furnishing sales along with it, according to Jennifer Vlahavas, senior director of Comscore, a digital marketing media intelligence provider.
     Her presentation at the Sandow Media Online Technologies Conference in Chicago looked at the overall world of ecommerce, then drilled down to furnishings-specific data.
     Comscore uses a 2 million member panel of consumers, representing more than 170 countries and 43 markets, to gather its data.
     According to its data, following a soft 2009, total e-commerce sales through Q2 2010 were up 7% vs. a year ago. Last year recorded $209 billion in online sales.
     Also notable, ecommerce continues to gain share of retail spending, hitting 8.1% of overall sales in the first quarter of 2010. The middle-income segment ($50,000-$99,000 household in come), which had shown little signs of growth in prior quarters, grew at a rate of 11% in Q3 versus year ago; it contributed 5% of the total e-commerce growth for the third quarter of 2010.
     When it comes to researching products online, six in 10 consumers said the Internet has become important when making buying decisions, and 59% of them say that has increased in the past year, according to Comscore research.
     "Consumers are becoming more comfortable buying bigger ticket items online, and that shows in the total spend," Vlahavas said.
     In the first eight months of 2010, online home furnishings sales showed strong growth over 2009 - up 10.1% to reach more than $2.7 billion, she said.
     Vlahavas said about half of consumers will abandon an online shopping cart if free shipping is not offered. But, 66% of those said they would be more likely to continue their purchase if special pricing or discounts/rewards on future purchases were offered.
     Among the home furnishings sites popular with the Comscore panelists, Ikea was by far the most visited, followed by Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel. The strongest year-over-year growth was posted by Rent-a-Center, up 32% for 2010.
     Flash sale sites, such as, and, all also showed significant growth in 2010, up more than 100% each as the flash sale trend continues to build momentum.
     "Flash sale sites are becoming a new way to shop online and for consumers to feel smart about the way they shop," Vlahavas said.
     She also got into details about the online search for furniture.
     She reported 18.5 million searches on furniture so far in 2010, an 8% growth increase in terms of searches and 11% increase over 2009 in the number of searchers entering the term "Furniture." All households with income of more than $25,000 increased their share of searches by double-digits, while the strongest growth came in the 55-64 age group, which was up 16%.
     While search (paid keywords, for example) was more effective than display advertising, the most effective home furnishings promoters online use a combination of search and display advertising, Vlahavas said.
     The top home furnishings advertisers by total display impressions are La-Z-Boy, Sleepy's, Ashley Home Stores, RC Willey, Wal-Mart, Pier 1 and Value City.

Home & Textiles Today Staff | News & Commentary

 Home Textiles Today is the market-leading brand covering the home and textiles markets, offering a comprehensive package of print and online products. Home & Textiles Today provides industry news, product trends and introductions, exclusive industry research, consumer data, store operations solutions, trade show news and much more.

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