Once firmly rooted in the realm of brick-and-mortar, the furniture industry has undergone a notable digital transformation over the past few years, increasingly relying on strong web presences to drive sales and engage customers beyond the physical space they occupy. For example, William Sonoma (which encompasses Pottery Barn, West Elm and Rejuvenation, to name a few) reported that e-commerce accounted for an “all-time high” of 55% of revenue in Q3 2018, emphasizing “digital leadership” as a key strategic priority.
It’s a smart – if not obvious – strategy, given the confluence of several years-in-the-making trends: The rise of the direct-to-consumer sales model (which often abandons a retail footprint), the Millennial shopper’s desire for “authentic” brand experiences and our cultural obsession with Instagram-worthy aesthetics. It’s in this environment – one ripe for innovation – that an array of digitally-native furniture brands have flourished.
Businesses like Article, which makes accessibly priced, mid-century modern furniture – provide a smart alternative to traditional furniture retailers by providing a sleek web experience, efficient production model, fair pricing and an egalitarian, “all-are-welcome-here” message. Consumers are noticing: Our data reveals that Article saw a 60% growth in followers over the past year (4x the amount of growth when compared to industry stalwarts like West Elm and Pottery Barn) while posting $200 million in revenue.
Along with Article, we’ve looked at five other disruptive brands to watch (and follow) in the space:
Article: 347k followers
- What they’re about: Direct-to-consumer furniture focusing on mid-century modern designs.
- Why you should care: Article embodies the cliché of the upstart Millennial furniture brand, replete with the almost-too-earnest slogan of “Spend Less. Live More.” Nevertheless, it delivers — offering a clean and easy-to-navigate online experience, stylish and fairly-priced designs and a highly curated Instagram feed.
Joybird: 196k followers
- What they’re about: Showcasing the largest inventory of these new upstarts, Joybird offers custom-crafted furniture at fair prices.
- Why you should care: If you’re tired of traditional retailers’ high markups but still want plenty of options – from lighting to seating to bedroom – Joybird is for you. And don’t worry about becoming overwhelmed by all the possibilities, either: Their Instagram feed offers some serious inspiration, enabling you to hone in on a vision.
Floyd Detroit: 57k followers
- What they’re about: Tight assortment of easy-to-assemble furniture staples, including a sofa, bed frame and several tables.
- Why you should care: If you’re looking for the next Ikea and want to support brands that maintain sustainable business practices, FLOYD is your next stop. Added bonus: They offer free same-day delivery in select markets, virtually unheard of in the furniture business.
Burrow: 27k followers
- What they’re about: True to its name, Burrow focuses specifically on items for “nesting” – i.e. seating, pillows and throws.
- Why you should care: Ordering a couch is a notoriously burdensome task – hindered by high prices, long wait times and expensive shipping costs. Burrow eliminates much of those barriers to deliver a thoroughly modern retail experience. (Also, their Instagram feed is sprinkled with “Netflix-and-chill”-type memes, so there’s that.)
Simply Framed: 21k followers
- What they’re about: Artist approved custom frames that won’t break the bank.
- Why you should care: Custom framing can be insanely expensive and rather daunting. Simply Framed has made the whole process pretty effortless, and dare we say a little fun. Artists and photographers were some of the brand’s early adopters which is evident in their product offering, which goes beyond standard wood finishes with vibrant neon plexiboxes.
Yardbird: 3.6k followers
- What they’re about: Direct-to-consumer outdoor furniture, all crafted with an eye towards sustainability.
- Why you should care: Purchasing outdoor furniture can be a frustrating venture, thanks to elements like pricing, shipping and a very fragmented retail landscape. Anchored by an appealing web experience, Yardbird offers a range of fairly priced designs, all of which are created from environmentally-friendly materials.