Shoppers Increasingly Buying Hardwood Floors, Appliances Online
Consumers have been buying books, toys and apparel online for years, but they are also increasingly at ease ordering their washers, refrigerators and even hardwood flooring over the Internet.
At Home Depot Inc. HD there was a 40% jump in its third-quarter online sales, after growth of over 50% a year earlier.
”You would never have thought appliances would be as strong as it is as an online category,” said Ted Decker, Home Depot’s executive vice president of merchandising, on a conference call with analysts. “The customer is quite happy to (also) order complete flooring jobs and direct delivery to the home. The online experience can both be educational and inspirational, but also be used for commerce on big-ticket items.”
In fact, because of strong online demand, the retailer will move “hard surface flooring” inventory directly to its online fulfillment centers, he said.
U.S. online sales of home goods, including home appliances and home improvement products, have outpaced overall industry growth in each quarter of the year. For instance, home goods sales jumped 17% in the third quarter, which is faster than the 11% online sales growth for the retail industry, according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.
Online sales of furniture and home furnishings, including appliance and home improvement items, are expected to rise 15.2% this year, and will continue to rise in the double-digit pace in each of the next four years, according to eMarketer.
As consumers have felt more comfortable buying big ticket items on the web, chains like Home Depot and rivals Lowe’s Cos. LOW and Sears Holdings Corp. SHLDare seeking to capitalize on it. Home Depot, for instance, has invested in online product look, search, chat and navigation as well as pitched free delivery, hook up and haul away of old appliances. Retailers also are adding an expanded assortment online. For this holiday, Home Depot’s online-only assortment, for example, includes a $1,999 Martha Stewart Living artificial Christmas tree.
Retailers also are using their physical stores to differentiate from online-only rivals. Home Depot said 40% of its online orders are picked up in stores, and the company is installing dedicated storage space in 550 stores this year for online orders. Home Depot, following retailers from Macy’s Inc. M to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT said it’s testing shipping and fulfilling online orders from two stores.
Read the original article by Andria Cheng for realtor.com here.