December 6, 2006, 12:00 AM

Furniture.com expands connectivity for independent retailers

Furniture.com Inc. is rolling out an extranet to help independent merchants affiliated with several major furniture chains do a better job of tracking price, inventory and other changes, says CEO Carl Prindle.

Furniture.com Inc. is rolling out an extranet to help independent merchants affiliated with several major furniture chains do a better job of tracking price, inventory and other changes.

In the fragmented furniture retailing business, many chain retailers operate about two-thirds of all stores and contract with independent merchants for the remaining one-third of their locations. But even though they are branded with a major retailer’s name, independent furniture merchants often aren’t networked to the retailer’s back-end supply chain and information management systems or to the e-commerce platform.

This lack of integration makes it difficult for independent furniture merchants to keep track of constantly changing product and price changes from both the chain retailer’s home office and the chain’s major manufacturers.

But for furniture retailers that use its technology and service platform, including Leon’s Furniture Ltd., Levitz Furniture, Harlem Furniture and RoomStore Inc., Furniture.com has developed an extranet.

The extranet went live in late November and is being used by about 21 independent merchants affiliated with Toronto-based Leon’s Furniture. In addition to using the extranet to check real-time product and pricing information, independent Leon’s merchants can also use it to accept online orders and let customers track their online order once the order has been placed.

"Furniture retailers who rely on independent dealers can now offer e-commerce to their customers, and independent dealers can add advanced e-commerce capabilities that would be difficult for them to replicate on their own,” says Carl Prindle, president and CEO of Furniture.com, No. 142 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites. “The end result is a seamless experience for customers and significant sales lift for retailers and dealers.”

Furniture.com accepts and processes its own web orders, but also works with furniture chains and their established inventory and delivery channels to drive online and showroom sales.

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