Daphne Duong

March 1, 2021

Why homeware will emerge the biggest retail winner after the pandemic

Propelled by retail data, homeware is poised to be the biggest winner in a post-COVID retail world with people more connected to their homes.

In the wake of COVID-19, lockdowns and quarantine measures turned housing environments into multi-functional living spaces requiring a myriad of new homeware commodities. Now, propelled by retail data, homeware is poised to be the biggest winner in a post-COVID retail world with people more connected to their homes.

The global coronavirus pandemic forced immediate changes to everyday life. Now that the end is in sight, many of these lifestyle and behavior shifts will become more permanent after COVID-19. As customers gradually gain the confidence to shop again, several retail sectors are emerging as undisputed growth areas. Among the most promising segments is homeware.

In 2020, people connected with their homes in ways their pre-pandemic lives could never allow. Living spaces became home offices, home schools, entertainment venues and even indoor gyms. 

Meanwhile, reports indicated a mini-boom in property sales in the U.S., which was primarily attributed to the pandemic’s impact on the country. Lockdowns galvanized many homeowners and renters into reassessing their housing requirements, resulting in a need for a more thoughtfully curated home environment.

This evolution in the consumer mindset has generated clear trends that will remain dominant even after the pandemic. From increased work-from-home activity to burgeoning home-based health and wellness, plus the online shopping boom and the rising consumer demand for value,  homeware retail has significant growth opportunities in the coming years. 

Retailers in the sector know they cannot reap the full rewards of these new opportunities with old tricks. Retail data is steadily emerging as a necessity when deciding the innovations to implement, products to launch, channels to use and prices to adjust in order to thrive now and in the future.

Unraveling homeware opportunities with retail data

With homeware sighted as one of the most promising retail sectors for the next few years, many industry players - from veterans like Sears and Bed Bath & Beyond to apparel giants like H&M and Zara - are leveraging retail data to uncover the trends that will drive revenue. 

Renewed interest in home-office products

Commercial and corporate workspaces were the only significant revenue streams in the pre-COVID office furniture sector. Industry behemoths like Herman Miller and Steelcase were not ready for the sudden slump in sales when the pandemic started. Contrastingly, the new work-from-home era has fueled a wave of orders for single adjustable desks as remote workers turned their spare bedrooms into offices. What followed were months of postponed orders and canceled short-term sales as retailers rushed to catch up with the surging demand for home office setups. 

Today, home offices are a segment that cannot be overlooked. Even after the pandemic, a large fraction of the global workforce will stick to remote-working. In response, retailers are accelerating new product development to deliver value to home-office users. According to recent research by Mordor Intelligence, office products that are smart, easy to use, eco-friendly, aesthetically-pleasing and multi-purpose are flying off the shelves.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the return to corporate workspaces, demand for desktop tables and chairs will continue to rise in the coming years. The home-based workforce will also continue looking for furniture and decor that make working from home an enjoyable, productive and stress-free experience. As a result, innovative and creative home-office product retailers will have the upper hand in the post-pandemic market.

High demand for home-based wellness products

In-house wellbeing was rising steadily before the pandemic. However, with quarantines and lockdowns forcing people to remain home for extended periods, wellness products caught on rapidly. Consumers increasingly wanted ways to alleviate pandemic-induced stress and make their homes more comfortable. Meanwhile, nutrition and fitness became daily topics as people rushed to give their bodies the best chance of beating the coronavirus. 

Thanks to the pandemic, home wellness is no longer in the early adoption phase. Products that experienced significant demand surges in 2020 such as sleeping aids, health monitors, purifiers, air fresheners and essential oils are positioned to become more mainstream after COVID-19. In readiness, wellness brands are using retail data analysis to uncover high-performing segments and capitalize on them.  

Neom Organics, for example, saw opportunities in the mood-boosting product market and launched two fragrances for its Wellbeing Pod, which, when diffused, would give inhalers energy and positivity. Fitness brand Fitbit also realized the ballooning interest in stress-relieving products across many retail sectors and launched the Fitbit Sense, the first smartwatch to incorporate an electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor for stress management during the pandemic. With retail data, brands can continue to react effectively to market trends and reap exponential returns. 

Increased online shopping

Homeware has long been centered on grand physical showrooms, which allow consumers to envision the products in their homes before buying them. Online channels played second fiddle because they could not offer experiences like lying on a mattress or sitting in patio lounge chairs before taking them home. However, the pandemic left many of these showrooms abandoned, leaving retailers with no choice but to embrace the online channels they had long undermined. 

Almost instantly, homeware retailers realized the need to invest in digital technology. Businesses with proper ecommerce channels such as DFS, Made.com, and Wayfair flourished as consumers replaced physical in-store visits with online browsing. Even apparel companies like Urban Outfitters, for which homeware had always come second after fashion,  experienced their highest growth rates in 2020 as customers ordered more work-from-home furniture and storage, along with drinkware, games and puzzles.

Meanwhile, as internet-based shopping ballooned, virtual and augmented reality stepped in to give customers a near-real buying experience. Tech-savvy furniture retailer Ikea, which started experimenting with AR back in 2017, kept its Ikea Place AR app constantly updated with technical improvements and new product lines. With Ikea Place, customers can pick a furniture piece and place it right in their house to judge its look and fit before buying. 

As online shopping continues to grow, all homeware retailers must invest in the right products to stay ahead of the curve. With the EDITED platform, for instance, retailers can uncover the most impactful technologies in their industries and learn how other players are deploying them for maximum gains. 

The proliferation of fast homeware

Traditionally, homeware products like furniture and decor were things that customers only replaced when they broke or got old. However, with the internet making trends more accessible than ever, buyers are dumping and purchasing homeware almost as fast as clothes. 

Fast interiors have become integral to the modern indoor living experience. Traditionally, customers considered furniture and decor as one-time purchases. However, as digital technology advanced and platforms like Pinterest and Instagram became popular, buyers started seeing their homes as spaces for curation. Fashion brands saw this change in shopper perception as an opportunity to style not just what people dress, but where they live.

Now that working from home is the new normal, more people are in tune with their living spaces than ever. Private homes have become the ideal environments to escape from the unpredictabilities and uncertainties of the outside world. As a result, customers are increasingly replacing their homeware with newer, more stylish and more functional products. This trend is especially apparent for smaller items like soft furnishings and decorative objects, which offer shoppers a way to customize their spaces easily, affordably and more frequently. 

While fast homeware is bound to become an even more significant revenue stream in the coming years, it’s important to also keep sustainability in mind. With EDITED retail data, it can give industry players insight into the new home products that are selling well and ones that aren’t, avoiding the dreaded deadstock issue many fast fashion retailers continue to face. 

Increased demand for value

In the wake of COVID-19, customers across all retail sectors became more conscious about their spending. They reprioritized essentials for items that fulfilled needs over wants. In response, the homeware sector worked harder to prove value to buyers. Brands increasingly invested in making their digital channels, home delivery and click-to-collect services better. It did not take long for companies with robust ecommerce platforms and streamlined buying experiences like Ikea to start edging ahead. 

The crisis may be nearing its end, but the demand for value will continue trending highly for the foreseeable future. To stay competitive, retailers must focus on ensuring customers are getting their money’s worth through seamless and convenient shopping experiences. 

More significantly, buyers will not relent looking for the “best deals” and discounts. That means the pressure is on for stores to develop competitive prices. Fortunately, retail data analysis is helping retailers to create dynamic price sheets based on current market averages and competitor activity. EDITED retail market intelligence, which tracks data on over 180,000 brands and more than 2.5 billion SKUs worldwide, offers insight into how competitors are pricing their products. Businesses using retail data solutions like EDITED for market price information are able to develop pricing strategies that appeal to the growing value-conscious customer base. 

A bright future for homeware with retail data

As the new year inches on, the world is optimistic things will not be as bleak as they were in 2020. However, while retailers are hopeful business will bounce back, the race is on for brands and dealerships to take the top spots in their respective segments. Retail companies must re-strategize to stay afloat amid fierce competition. They must be faster, more agile and more innovative. 

Retail market intelligence will play a massive role in positioning homeware businesses ahead of the competition. With EDITED, homeware retailers can leverage a wealth of retail data and gain comprehensive intelligence on market parameters like pricing, competitor activity and assortment planning for the most conversions. 

A new era of modernization in the homeware industry is imminent. Business after coronavirus will highlight the brands that got it right and shine a brutal spotlight on those that failed. Embrace retail data today and secure a better future for your business.

Reach out to a dedicated retail specialist for a demo into how EDITED can help your business.