19701 Mon, 11/01/2010 - 3:39pm
By Duke Ratliff
Full-line furniture stores are increasingly entering the category of outdoor furniture. This was one of the most-discussed trends at last month’s International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market.
Attendees at the Chicago show viewed numerous introductions targeting full-scale furniture stores. This trend combined with the ongoing move to extend the indoors to the great outdoors. At the same time, consumers are extending the seasons for their outdoor spaces. As patios and decks are increasingly being used through the early spring into the late fall, marketing and selling opportunities are expanding.
With this in mind, and as the weather turns to fall, HFN decided to review some full-line stores and see what they’re offering their customers via the Web.
RC Willey takes a colorful approach to the outdoor category on the Internet. Under a “Seasonal/Fitness” tab on the homepages, eye-catching red lounger mattresses from Red Star Traders tell consumers this is the place to look for outdoor furniture.
The RC Willey site organizes its patio furniture by category: chairs, sets, tables; and brands: Agio, Arlington House and Pride Family Brands. The retailer makes a strong price statement with offerings from World Source (five-piece dining set, $199). Clicking on a company name brings the consumer to a mix of items and collections from the brand. A click on “Agio,” for instance reveals collections up to $1,999 in price, along with Agio-branded related items such as a patio umbrella ($229) and an outdoor area rug ($169).
The company offers 162 items under the patio furniture classification. They can also be sorted according to price.
RC Willey also had seven pages of some select items on sale, most of which were individual chairs and accessories including rugs, end tables and outdoor umbrellas. S.I.T. Adirondack chairs have been reduced by 63 percent to $14.96. A three-seat Patio Swing from World Source has dropped in price by 17 percent to $199.99.
Robb & Stucky makes a classy commitment to outdoor furniture on its Web site. Befitting an interior design-oriented furniture store, the chain’s offerings are more upscale—and plentiful.
Outdoor furniture isn’t hard to find on the retailer’s Web site. “Patio Shop” is one of the major categories at robbstucky.com, along with “Interiors Shop.”
Casual shoppers will find opportunities to shop by collections such as Bonaire, Deauville and Brown Jordan, which has a very large presence on the site. Customers are also invited to shop by item for goods including mosaic table tops, patio bars, chaises, chairs and plenty of tables.
Clicking on a collection brings up a shot of the grouping, plus copy romanticizing the items. The Brown Jordan Campaign, for instance, “offers many choices to upgrade your outdoor dining experience. Whether you choose all weather wicker or fabric slings, or the extreme comfort of plush cushions, your patio will look great season after season.”
One of the most interesting, and effective features, on robbstucky.com is that it merchandises all of the individual accessory pieces for a collection. A shopper viewing the Deauville Cushion collection will also see that the retailer offers a matching 31-inch bar table, a sofa, a settee and sofa.
Robb & Stucky do not provide prices to their patio items. Customers must respond to a Quick Quote inquiry, then the store e-mails prices to would-be potential buyers.
LA Furniture emphasizes mostly modern design with its casual furniture items. This is the place for that purple, outdoor bed with canopy ($1,500) or Caluco’s Round Tea Table with ice bucket ($1,009).
The Web site has frequently asked questions, with answers, about its items at the bottom of every page. For instance, “Can I get different color cushions for the 75 Patio Sectional Sofa Set?,” and “What is rattan?”
Patio sets get lots of play in prices ranging from $1,089 for a Miami Dining Set with a table with glass top to $5,429 for the Teak Rafaela 11-piece dining set.
Consumers can shop by price, texture and color. The company is having a fall sale with 5 percent off on all orders over $499. Plus, the site emphasizes bargain prices with 40-percent off signage throughout the Web site.