March 18, 2005, 12:00 AM

Why Furniture.com is shopping for more chain retailers

Furniture.com is growing as a web merchant in large measure because of the ongoing relationship it`s building with traditional furniture chains such as Seaman’s, Levitz and Harlem Furniture.

 

Furniture.com is growing as a web merchant in large measure because of the ongoing relationship it`s building with traditional furniture chains such as Seaman’s, Levitz and Harlem Furniture.

In business since 2002 and privately held, Furniture.com accepts and processes its own web orders but also works with furniture chains and their established inventory and delivery channels to supply merchandise and make deliveries.

The relationship is mutually beneficial, says Furniture.com president and CEO Carl Prindle. Many furniture chain retailers are traditional and newcomers to e-commerce. But those who work with Furniture.com see Furniture.com as their online retailing arm.

For instance, Prindle says that Furniture.com has invested millions of dollars in online and real-time technology that integrates directly into the chain retailer’s inventory and supply chain management systems. As a result when an online shopper wants to know the availability of a certain item, Furniture.com’s system lets the customer and the chain know instantly what’s in stock.

Chains such as Seaman’s, Levitz and Harlem Furniture also use Furniture.com as a way to drive multi-channel sales. On its site Furniture.com offers programs such as an interactive room planner and style guide that gives users a virtual picture of how purchases will look in their home, an online “magazine” offering decorating tips and search technology that lets shoppers edit their merchandise selections and shop by comparing the price and style of multiple brands.

“Sales associates in the show room use our systems to help customers plan their rooms and check inventory,” Prindle says.

Because Furniture.com has web shoppers on both the East Coast and West Coast, Prindle says chains often use the site as a research tool to get a read on a how customers will react to a particular product style or price.

Going forward Prindle says Furniture.com’s biggest business priority is signing up more chains as partners and “building a national footprint.”

The company isn’t breaking out annual sales, but in the past Furniture.com had annual sales of more than $80 million. The average order placed is about $1,250, Prindle says.

 

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