Putting political leanings aside, there’s probably more than a few housewares suppliers finding pleasure in the President’s recent Twitter rampage against Amazon.
If there is any truth at all in what seems more like a personal grudge against Jeff Bezos and his Washington Post— and despite the hit Amazon’s stock took— few expect the tweet storm to inflict long-term damage on Amazon.
On the other hand, maybe it creates an opening for other sellers to raise their profiles in housewares.
As much as housewares suppliers need brick-and-mortar retailers to take more competitive omnichannel stances against Amazon (and some seem to be succeeding), they also need strong, reliable alternatives to emerge from among other dot-comers.
One expanding online platform for which many in this business have been waiting to mount a serious move into housewares is home furnishings specialist Wayfair.
The wait could be over. Wayfair announced a comprehensive housewares initiative just prior to the recent International Home + Housewares Show. Then it sent some 60 company representatives to Chicago to lay out its plan and line up vendor support.
Wayfair, as it has in furniture and other home décor segments, expects to make its mark in housewares by providing hi-tech-enabled guidance and tools for shoppers to personalize their purchase experience from an extensive, yet carefully curated selection. Consider it a more merchant-rooted digital shopping alternative to platforms that list everything and anything for consumers.
Where Wayfair acknowledges housewares can be more demanding than furniture is in how it manages what it calls the “consideration cycle”— the time it takes shoppers to convert from initial search-and-browse to purchase. The cycle, according to Wayfair, is much shorter for housewares than for most furniture purchases tied to decorating and measurement factors often requiring more deliberation.
Wayfair figures it will lose if it can’t convert housewares shoppers on its site almost immediately, and that drives its emphasis on effective mobile technology and super-fast delivery.
What should be even more encouraging to the housewares industry is Wayfair’s talk of mutually beneficial vendor partnerships, an over-promised and under-delivered concept among some big retailers and e-tailers. Expect Wayfair to be demanding on its suppliers when it comes to supply chain management, technology implementation and pricing. But it also is preaching cooperation and collaboration as key ingredients to successful programs that are as trend-right and personally connective to consumers as they are easy to order and receive.
For an industry that has lost dozens of once-sturdy retail headquarters to consolidation, big-box expansion and, more recently, Amazon’s relentless growth, housewares suppliers should be enthusiastic about the prospects of doing more business with Wayfair.
Now if it can just manage to stay out of a certain Twitter feed.