Home Furnishing Ecommerce Sites: 15 Lessons from the Best in a $258B Market

Home Furnishing Ecommerce Sites: 15 Lessons from the Best in a $258B Market
  • To bring their home-furnishing empire online, Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market uses Shopify Plus to not only sell but immerse ecommerce customers through augmented reality
  • With combined revenue over $350 million last year, Purple and Leesa dominate the online mattress industry with notably different approaches to their products and marketing
  • Aided by ecommerce automation, Interline has been experiencing MoM sales increases of 30% with 65% of online sales originating from areas without a retail location

Data compiled within the Home Furnishing Ecommerce Industry Report

Today’s home furnishing shoppers are fickle and technologically-savvy. They’re deal hunters who could care less about traditional brand loyalties.

When they go online, tactile questions about quality, color, and feel haunt them. Especially for big-ticket purchases.

What’s more, behemoths like Amazon and Wayfair have conditioned shoppers to expect near-immediate delivery at little-to-no extra cost with try-before-you-buy and liberal return policies as guarantees.

How are home furnishing ecommerce companies overcoming those challenges?

To find answers, we reviewed 15 of …

The best home furnishing ecommerce sites and scalable lessons from each to drive growth:
  1. Magnolia Market: Immerse Your Audience
  2. Purple: Speak to Customers with a Unique Brand
  3. Leesa: One-Stop-Sleep-Shop Made Easy
  4. Brooklinen: Solve an Age-Old Problem, For Less
  5. Best Choice Products: Reward Loyalty, One Action at a Time
  6. black+blum: Scaling Your Business, Internationally
  7. Boll & Branch: Planting the Seed of Change, and Cotton
  8. Interline: Do More with Less through Automation
  9. Ebates: Shop Online and Get Paid
  10. Umbra: Designing Trends, at an Affordable Price
  11. 1stdibs: Join the Guest List, Virtually
  12. IKEA: Laughing, All the Way to the Swedish Bank
  13. Etsy: Keeping Commerce Human, Online
  14. Wayfair: What You Need, They’ve Got
  15. Williams-Sonoma: From Mail-Order to Ecommerce

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1. Magnolia Market: Immerse Your Audience

Depending on the source, Chip and Joanna Gaines have built a home-goods empire that’s catapulted their personal net worth to somewhere between $16 and $18 million. From their hit HGTV show, Fixer Upper, to their sprawling 20,000 sq. ft. retail location to their ecommerce storefront, the Gaines’ bring a cohesive experience to their audience both online and off.

However, what sets Magnolia Market apart from competitors in the home furnishings category isn’t its founders’ celebrity status but instead, its their breadth of products brought to life through augmented reality (AR).

If you’re unable to visit Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, Texas, rest assured you won’t miss a thing with AR at your fingertips. And that is by design, pun very much intended. 


“You kind of start as this out-of-the-box Shopify client,” says Magnolia Market’s Director of Digital Experience Stone Crandall. “But as you grow, and as needs arise, what’s cool about working with Shopify Plus is that we’re able to take what we’re doing and evolve to meet the needs of this growing business.”

2. Purple: Speak to Customers with a Unique Brand

In 2016, online mattress sales accounted for 5% of the industry. In 2017, that slice doubled to 10%. It’s no wonder there are now over 200 online mattress retailers fighting for a sliver.

How do you stand out when everyone is laying down, proverbially that is? You create a brand that is so unforgettable, you are the first thing on everyone’s sleep-addled mind.

For Purple, this all came about when the Millennial daughter of one of the founding brothers wrote their Kickstarter campaign.

From there, they’ve worked hard to ensured their fun, snarky, and pop-culture-infused voice was everywhere: from internal party invitations to packaging, on-hold messaging, and every other customer touchpoint.

The only thing more impressive than Purple’s science-meets-humor campaigns on YouTube and social media are their engagement and sales numbers
Against their industry’s 100% year-over-year growth, Purple increased revenue 200.6% from $65.5 million in 2016 to $196.9 million in 2017.

To scale rapidly, Purple has relied on Shopify Plus since they launched.

“Today,” says Purple’s Director of Communication, Savannah Turk, “we use Shopify Scripts to enable more advanced discounting logic, which gives us the chance to create more dynamic customer promotions. This allows us to offer customers the Royal Purple Seat Cushion or Purple Sheets as free gifts with the purchase of a new mattress.”

3. Leesa: One-Stop-Sleep-Shop Made Easy

In the same uber-competitive online mattress market — which surpassed $15 billion in sales last year — Leesa’s ecommerce site is truly a one-stop-shop for all things sleep. But, as they say, the devil is in the details.

For Leesa, the details are in providing their customers with a complete A-to-Z sleep experience, which includes not only the mattress, but the sheets and blankets, the bed frame, and more.

Even better, they drive urgency and make one-stop purchasing easy through a robust set of automation features on Shopify Plus:

  • Entry and exit popups for sale events
  • Sticky bars with an expiration countdown
  • Auto-calculated payment options through Affirm
  • Automatic discounts applied without entering codes
  • Upsells within their cart for accessories like foundations and frames
  • Simplified checkout options using PayPal, Amazon, or a customer account

Leesa's automated ecommerce home furnishings checkout

4. Brooklinen: Solve an Age-Old Problem, For Less

Speaking of sleep, have you checked out Brooklinen lately? If you spend any time on mainstream media site, the answer is: “Of course.”

Over the last two years, Brooklinen has flooded the internet with a combination of earned and sponsored coverage. Not just on home-good publishers, like Good Housekeeping and Home Textiles Today. They also regularly appear on business and tech sites like Fast Company, Business Insider, and more.

How? By focusing on …

  1. Customer reviews, ratings, and user-generated content
  2. Common bedding myths surrounding topics like thread count
  3. Unraveling those mysteries through the science of sleep

On their site, for instance, they explain the intricacies of making the best sheets, as well as their pillows, comforters, and new towels. Why is this important? Because by explaining what happens between the sheets (ahem!), they’ve earned both customer trust and a loyal, profitable following.

5. Best Choice Products: Reward Loyalty, One Action at a Time

Loyalty is everything these days. And keeping your customers’ loyalty is hard.

Best Choice Products (BCP) went ahead and did something about it. They created a loyalty program that would ensure customers are rewarded not just for purchases, but for everything.

BCP's home-furnishing ecommerce loyalty program

BCP places their rewards program, powered by Shopify Plus Partner Swell, front-and-center on their homepage and throughout the shopping experience

Most loyalty programs only reward you for the dollars you spend. BCP, however, rewards you for engaging with their brand, or as they put it: shopping, connecting, and exploring.

And if you want to take it one step further, not only can you redeem your points to get items for free, but you can also redeem partial points for partial discounts.

6. black+blum: Scaling Your Business, Internationally

UK design company, black+blum, first started in 2000 with lighting. Within two years, they expanded to homewares and began selling direct-to-consumer online.

In 2014, black+blum saw a need to invest more heavily in their already successful international strategy. Unfortunately, after a laborious five-month relaunch, sales in both the U.S. and Europe plummeted 50% because the new site wouldn’t load in certain browsers and smartphones nor did text and images translate correctly.

Prior to choosing that unnamed platform, Dan Black — co-founder of black+blum — says he considered Shopify Plus but was hesitant because it does not allow users to have one backend for multiple international sites.

What first appeared as a drawback, would soon become an advantage.

Today, black+blum uses Shopify Plus to offer international customers a seamless experience to shop in their own currency — U.S. dollar, British pound, and Euro — as well as get local shipping and fulfillment.

Thanks to the integration with Shopify Plus and BrightPearl, they’ve able to sync their inventory easily without worrying about fulfillment.

“Technology,” explains Dan Black, “should not be a barrier. We’re now free to channel our energy and manpower into our business since we’re no longer worried about site stuff.”

7. Boll & Branch: Planting the Seeds of Change and Cotton

According to Nielsen Report released less than a year ago, 66% of consumers are “willing to pay more for sustainable goods.” That’s up from 55% in 2014 and 50% in 2013. Not surprisingly, Millennials are the “most willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings” at 73%.

The desire for ethically sourced and environmentally friendly products is growing. Consumers want to know the items they’re purchasing come from manufacturers who care. And they by purchasing, they themselves are part of a bigger movement.

Boll & Branch is in on it.

Their linens are “ethically made, sustainably sourced, and rooted in quality.” They support the farms and workers who cultivate the cotton they use; that means respecting the people and the plants that make it happen.

While Boll & Branch’s ethical commitments aren’t rooted in the bottom line, they certainly haven’t hurt. As recode reported last year in an interview with CEO Scott Tannen, in 2018 the company “projects to double revenue to at least $100 million on the back of a new product line.”

8. Interline: Do More with Less through Automation

When you run a 50-year-old retail business with 32 brick-and-mortar locations, launching and aligning not one but three ecommerce storefronts can be daunting.

That was the situation Interline — the parent company of home furnishing brands like SCANDIS and Dania Furniture — found themselves in last year.

Their path to building an integrated commerce brand led them to Shopify Plus. Specifically, one of Shopify Plus’ proprietary ecommerce automation tools, Shopify Flow, which lets merchants consolidate front and backend workflows with “trigger, condition, action” formulas.

SCANDIS, for instance, has created seven active workflows across three storefronts, including one to track commissions from their in-store associates. They’ve also created flows to …

  • Automate employee discounts
  • Manage their inventory and reordering
  • Unpublish and publish products due to availability
  • Optimize their refund reports to save hundreds of hours every year

After launching its first two online stores, Interline has been experiencing month-over-month sales increases of 30%. In fact, 65% of the company’s online sales are originating from areas without a retail location.

“The more you automate with tools like Flow,” says Julio Giannotti, Web Manager at Interline, “the more money a business can make. It’s an exciting time and we see a lot of opportunity. The more we use Flow the better off we’re going to be tackling the more important parts of our business.”

9. Ebates: Shop Online, and Get Paid

What’s better than shopping from the comfort of your home? In your favorite weekend-wear? Finding the perfect find?

Answer: getting paid to shop.

Ebates — a referral site for some of the internet’s most popular ecommerce sites, including home furnishings — has an impressive 77.48% direct traffic in April 2018 alone. Ebates is doing something right … for merchant partners and shoppers alike. It’s truly a win-win-win situation.

But the truly best part of the whole Ebates experience is that it is integrated with Shopify, just one of many sales channels.

Why is this important? Because as an ecommerce business, you want to be where all your customers are shopping, that includes other sales channels. Being able to integrate with these ensures your customers are having a seamless brand experience.

Ebates is just one of over 20 multi-channel ecommerce integrations — including other online communities and marketplaces — that Shopify Plus offers

“As a leader in the Canadian ecommerce industry with a member base of over 3.7 Million, Ebates.ca has a unique ability to help merchants drive significant sales and scale, including customer convergence and repeat buying, in a way that no other marketing spend can accomplish,” said Belinda Baugniet, VP marketing, Ebates Canada.

10. Umbra: Designing Trends, At an Affordable Price

Umbra was founded in 1979 in Toronto, and for almost 40 years, they developed creative and fun solutions to everyday housewares.

Best known for their array of photo frames, Umbra does more than that. In fact, they started out because of a need for window coverings that suit the co-founder’s budget and taste, he decided to create one. Umbra was born from there — the need to fill the gap between cool, trendy, and unique design for budget-minded shoppers.

Umbra now manufactures and sells furniture, bathroom accessories, wall decor, and more. All over the world.

11. 1stdibs: Join the Guest List, Virtually

In 2001, 1stdibs launched online as a way to showcase some of the most magnificent pieces, at a range of prices. What you might not expect is that a website can sell a range of items from $58 dresses to million-dollar artwork.

The self-proclaimed “leading online marketplace for the most beautiful things on earth” truly delivers on that promise.

What is also special is their curated weekly online magazine, Introspective. Every week, fresh articles fill the pages of this online magazine that tell stories of art and artists, philanthropic endeavours, behind-the-scenes glimpses with designers, and more.

This content, in addition to their blog entitled “The Study,” with fun and fresh blogs shared every week. Devouring their eloquent content is tantamount to joining the elite or being invited to exclusive gallery openings in Paris and New York: you definitely want to be on the guest list.

12. IKEA: Laughing, All the Way to the Swedish Bank

IKEA’s slogan might be “Swedish for common sense,” but they should have a secondary slogan like, “Look who’s laughing now.”

While not a Shopify Plus merchant, we cannot help but highlight them.

What sets IKEA apart, aside from the inexpensive and easy-to-assemble (sometimes) home furnishings, is their ability to jump on a joke and run with it. This all started when Balenciaga, the Spanish luxury fashion house, released a $2,145 version resembling the IKEA reusable shopping bag. Their response was epic.

Later, news broke that Game of Thrones costume designers used IKEA’s Skold Sheepskin Rug to dress John Snow for his Night’s Watch duties.

The internet went nuts and the results… though we cannot say for certain, we suspect the sales for these items went through the well-designed-and-easy-to-assemble Swedish roof.

13. Etsy: Keeping Commerce Human, Online

Even with drag-and-drop website builders, plug-and-play ecommerce platforms, not all online merchants want the trouble of managing their own front-end sales.

Enter Etsy. A “global marketplace” and “a universe of special, extraordinary items.”

Simply put: if you want to sell your wares, but don’t want to have your own ecommerce platform, you can sell on Etsy. Poof. Customers know to look to Etsy to find hand-crafted or vintage items from all over the world, and with 79.59% of web traffic coming in direct or via search, that’s a pretty great position to be in.

For smaller businesses, this is a great alternative. And for large-scale enterprises, this is the key to making it: become the go-to expert in your niche and watch your organic traffic and sales grow.

14. Wayfair: What You Need, They’ve Got

According to SimilarWeb, Wayfair is number three in the world’s top-ranking home and garden websites, behind only Lowe’s and Home Depot. It’s no wonder, with over 10 million products on sale at Wayfair from more than 10,000 different suppliers, it’s easy to see how they’ve climbed up the ranks in less than a decade.

Thanks to their catchy slogan and extensive TV ad spend, they’ve quickly become a household name, with impressive organic search keywords tripling their PPC campaign results.

15. Williams-Sonoma: Selling to Customers, from Mail Order to Ecommerce

According to eMarketer, Williams-Sonoma ranked number one (at 51.4%) as the top furniture and home furnishings retailer based on ecommerce sales as a percentage of total revenue in 2017.

So how does this happen in a world over-saturated with ecommerce competition?

In 1972, at the behest of customers, Williams-Sonoma started publishing a mail-order catalog to reach more Americans outside the San Francisco Bay area.

Fast forward almost half-a-century later, and you have the evolution of mail-order catalogs: ecommerce. It’s no wonder Williams-Sonoma was able to break through early in the online shopping world since they’d already mastered the retail-by-mail framework.

Final Thoughts on the Best Home Furnishing Ecommerce Sites

What lessons can your ecommerce business glean from all of these 15 home furnishings experts?

Do something, better than anyone else, and watch your business grow.

Customers want to be loyal to brands, but more than anything they seek consistency.

Whether that means doubling-down on all the latest technology, like augmented reality; evolving your strengths from one generation to another; being part of the joke or being the joke—the idea is that you lean into it and don’t look back.

About the Author

Karine Bengualid is a freelance copywriter (and Sesame Street enthusiast) at Brought to you by the letter K. She writes audience-specific stories to connect brands with their ideal customers. Karine brings her special spice blend (2 cups of research, 1 tbsp of detail, and a dash of chutzpah) to her style of copywriting. When she’s not busy stringing your perfect words together, she’s building her animal rescue, Maison Misha. Connect with Karine on LinkedIn and let her bring your story to life.

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