After months of speculation and a few trade market appearances, Amazon officially entered the furniture game this month with the launch of two new private label brands, Rivet and Stone & Beam. The latest report from Business Insider delves into Amazon's newest venture, and there's a lot to unpack.
Here's what you need to know about Amazon's new furniture lines and how to compete with them.
More than staples and plywood
It's easy to write off these Amazon brands as being part of the Amazon Basic-style — cheaply made products sold at a cheap price. But that's not quite what Amazon is doing.
Rivet and Stone & Beam target two different style demographics, Mid-Century Modern and farmhouse respectively. Both brands go after Millennials and young families who have become accustomed to ordering everything from headphones to alcohol online. Both Millennials and young families are less likely to be loyal to a furniture brand just yet, giving Amazon a potential opening.
The company is also offering a few key incentives to ease fears about buying furniture online. Buyers will have free returns for 30 days if they are unsatisfied with their purchase, and all products from both brands will have a three-year warranty.
What might be most convincing is the price point for each style. Sofas for these brands start at $699, but most hover around $999. To compare, that's a little less than the average cost of a West Elm sofa, but more than IKEA's cheaper options (though it should be noted that IKEA does have more expensive sofa options). Price is often a measure of quality for younger buyers, so it may assuage some who want better quality than IKEA or even Wayfair's lower-priced sofas, but don't have the funds for a high-end sofa.
What this means for furniture showrooms
Amazon isn't the only one creating private home furnishings labels. Earlier this year, Target launched Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, a new furniture and decor line that partners with Joanna Gaines of HGTV's Fixer Upper.
Though it may feel like game over if Amazon's new brands take off, there are still ways furniture and lighting showrooms can keep up with Amazon by not directly competing with it. This can be done through improving your web presence, educating consumers and offering unique in-store experiences that are more valuable than free returns.
If you haven't done so already, make sure your business is listed with Google My Business. Check every website that has your business address listed on it and ensure that all listings look exactly the same. For example, if your street address on your website is listed as "1516 Smith Street," then it should be 1516 Smith Street on your Facebook, Houzz, Pinterest, Yelp, Yellow Pages and any other listing profile on the web.
This will help your showroom appear higher in local search results, meaning searches like "furniture stores Minneapolis" or "furniture showrooms Las Vegas." People doing these searches are looking for stores to visit, so you want to rank as high as possible in these search results.
You can also use your website and social media platforms to teach potential customers about design and furniture buying. Many young buyers, especially Millennials, have limited experience buying furniture, and they don't always know what to look for. Whether you blog, create videos or podcasts or post buying tips regularly on your social media platforms, you want to establish your showroom as an expert authority, someone buyers will rely on for questions about materials and manufacturing.
Finally, you must recognize that customers don't always want to go visit a store, so you need to give them the best reasons to come to your showroom. Host events and seminars to bring people into your showroom. Highlight your associates' expertise by allowing customers to set up personal appointments with them.
At nearly every market this year, experts giving talks have said furniture and lighting retailers should not even try to compete with Amazon on price. However, this doesn't mean retailers should give up competing with Amazon altogether.
More showrooms should be highlighting the services Amazon could never provide: live customer service, education and personalization.
How is your showroom competing with Amazon? Share with us in the comments.