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The E-Game

Jennifer Marks Editor in ChiefJennifer Marks Editor in Chief
There was a lot of buzz about ecommerce during the New York Home Fashions Market two weeks ago - a significant, eyebrow-raising amount of talk.
     Ecommerce buyers I heard mentioned most often included Amazon, macys.com and Overstock. There was also a fair amount of chatter about the appearance of Groupon in New York showrooms during the week.
     Increasing numbers of suppliers are talking about their flash site accounts such as OneKingsLane, Gilt and HauteLook. It's not steady like replenishment business, but you can drop a container or two in one go and with decent margins, they say.
     Some manufacturers used the occasion of market week to unveil their in-house e-improvements. Cambridge Towels, Kassatex and Loftex each relaunched their websites with the type of enhanced content ecommerce purveyors prize, while Blue Ridge Home Fashions announced a new quick ship program for ecommerce fulfillment.
     On the retail side, the past month brought word of a new iPhone app for Neiman Marcus, a new Facebook page for Macy's and a new expectation from Williams-Sonoma Inc., which said non-store sales will account for 50% of its revenues in the next three years. TJX Cos., which dipped a toe into ecommerce for a half a heartbeat five years ago, said 2012 will be the year it rejoins the fray.
     A new survey from BigInsight found that mobile shopping - or m-commerce - is higher than the national average among customers of Nordstrom's, Macy's, Dillard's, TJMaxx (ironic, see graph above), Amazon and Target.
     Retailers whose customers evince lower-than-average mobile aptitude include Walmart, Sears, Kohl's and JCPenney. (Paging the JCP team: That list runs from closest to the norm to farthest from the norm.)
     Even through the worst of the recession, ecommerce remained a growth channel. And tech-savvy Millennials are being followed by a generation of kids who learned their way around a keyboard as toddlers. If you want to see the future, visit YouTube and check out a video titled: "Baby Thinks a Magazine is a Broken iPad."
     To not have an ecommerce strategy in place today is as fool-hearty for suppliers as not having an offshore sourcing strategy was circa 2003/2004. We all know how that story ended.
     You gotta be in it to win it.

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