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Think Big. Move Fast.

Bear Stearns and Comscore recently put out a report on ecommerce for the holiday season. While overall ecommerce sales were up around 20% year-on-year, this average hides significant variability between categories.

This slide shows annual growth rates ranging from 10% (music, movies and videos) to 138% (video games, consoles and accessories).

I found the second fastest growth category to be most interesting. Online sales of Furniture, Appliances and Equipment are almost 70% higher than last year.

This really underscores the changing nature of online retail. Conventional wisdom a few years ago was that only easily shipped items would be sold online. Indeed, books (Amazon), jewelry (Blue Nile – a Lightspeed portfolio company), shoes (Zappos) and other relatively small and light items led the early surge of ecommerce.

But more recently we’ve seen a much broader set of products sold online. According to Internet Retailer, the two fastest growing Ecommerce sites of 2006 were Lumber Liquidators and Diapers.com. When pets.com and Webvan failed, conventional wisdom was that ecommerce could only work for goods with a high value-to-weight ratio. Neither hardwood floors, nor diapers, fall into that category. And in the Webvan category of groceries, Freshdirect does hundred of millions of dollars in sales in the NY/NJ area alone as a pureplay groceries etailer, to say nothing of Safeway and Peapod (owned by the same parent company as Stop and Shop and Giant).

As consumers become more willing to make large purchases online, and as “last mile” delivery logistics improve to residential addresses, we’re seeing a real surge in the online sale of items like claw footed bathtubs, rowing machines, trampolines and jogging strollers that we might never have imagined in the 90s. This was the thesis behind our investment in Mercantila earlier this year (which operates all the stores linked to in the previous sentence) and is also the driver behind the growth of its competitors including Netshops and CSN Stores.

There is still time to buy your big holiday gifts online – shop now! ;-)

7 Responses to 'Tis the season to… buy furniture online?

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