• Clint Engel

Amazon building furniture warehouses

SEATTLE — Amazon’s push into the furniture category is expanding with construction of four large warehouses designed to handle furniture and appliances, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

The report Friday, also reported on the Fox Business website, cited unnamed sources “familiar with Amazon” plans and didn’t say where the distribution centers are being built.

An Amazon spokeswoman contacted by Furniture Today, said the company doesn't comment on rumors or speculation. She offered this statement from Veenu Taneja, Amazon's furniture general manager: "Furniture is one of the fastest-growing retail categories here at Amazon. We’re expanding our selection of products, offering everything from Ashley Furniture sofas and chairs to Jonathan Adler home décor, as well as enhancing the shopping experience for customers with new features like Amazon Custom Configurations, Personalization, and our Free Swatch Program.

"We have fulfillment centers across the U.S. that specialize in handling large-sized items such as furniture and mattresses. We offer scheduled delivery for these heavy or bulky items, with increasing delivery speeds -- in fact, some products are available for scheduled delivery in just one to two days in select cities."

Taneja said, "Customers are increasingly turning to Amazon for their home furnishing needs, and we’re excited to continue innovating on their behalf to create the best possible shopping experience.”

This would be just the latest move of a very active two months of furniture news for an e-commerce giant that apparently has struggled to make heavy, bulky furniture a competitive offering. Last month at the High Point Market Amazon representatives pitched a change coming to its marketplace designed to make it more compelling for local furniture stores to list products on Amazon by dropping a national delivery mandate and letting retailers adjust their pricing to reflect varying degrees of delivery service.

Amazon also struck a deal with Ethan Allen for an Ethan Allen Design Studio on the marketplace that will offer the vertically integrated Top 100 company’s products. And it’s also working with Cloth & Company and Apartment Therapy to offer a line of home furnishing inspired by Apartment Therapy’s young readers.

In another unconfirmed report earlier this year, The New York Times said Amazon is considering opening its own high-tech brick a-mortar furniture and appliance stores.

The latest Journal report suggests another stab by Amazon to address a nagging logistics and last-mile-delivery problem that Brett Hobson, a business development representative, noted in his presentation to furniture retailers in High Point.

“It’s safe to say Amazon is very competitive in most of the categories we compete in,” Hobson said. “But in furniture, because we’ve kind of forced the seller’s hand when it comes to the nationwide shipping component, you will see a lot of the brands you guys specialize in are on our site, but you might be shocked from time to time by the price points and how inflated they are.”

The Journal report said Amazon is expected to rely on third-party carriers, such as XPO Logistics and others, to manage distribution centers and handle deliveries “for the near future, even as it takes more of its logistics in house in other parts of its business.”

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

Please feel free to email or call me with all of your retail news and tips, including expansion news, successful merchandising and marketing strategies and anything else you would like to see covered by Furniture/Today.  Contact me directly at cengel@furnituretoday.com or 336-605-1129.

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