Call it décor Darwinism or the prevailing winds of commerce in the time of COVID-19, but evolution is a watchword in home furnishings as global forces push nesting trends forward.
What many did not foresee was that supply chain disruptions and extra-long wait times for booming furniture sales would act as a tailwind to the vintage category. That ends up covering sustainability, availability and other issues close to the hearts of some furnishing aficionados.
Online décor marketplace Chairish has 12,000 small sellers globally catering to an audience of design lovers in the range of 4 million to 6 million uniques per month, and CEO and Co-Founder Gregg Brockway told PYMNTS ‘Karen Webster the human element is more vital than ever , combined with payments options that make buying beautiful décor items more accessible.
“I’ve always believed there are more beautiful things we’d like to show than we can show,” Brockway said in the “Digital Payments Flip the Script: 10 Merchants and 10 Visions for Digital Transformation” series, a PYMNTS and PayPal collaboration .
That’s where his team makes the tough calls on what’s beautiful and desirable for a marketplace selling 1 million items at any given time. But it goes beyond selection.
Curation is not new for Chairish, but engaging with design professionals is, and it’s a winner.
“We invite tastemakers to come and share the things that they like,” he said. “We think we’re very good at identifying trends and opportunities and things that might delight and make you happy in your space, with different perspectives that are valuable. ”
Tastemakers move merchandise, and while that’s part of the strategy, trust is the objective.
“It takes a leap of faith to make a decision to bring something new into your living space,” he said. of what helped us become successful. ”
Pairing human curation with augmented reality (AR) allows shoppers to literally visualize that loveseat in their home. Payments has a different role to play. Tastemakers have increasing options as to where they can reach buyers, making processes like marketplace payouts critical.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is to continually make it easier for people to buy and sell home furnishings, and payments is a big part of that,” he said. “How do we build trust into the process, so sellers know they’re going to get paid and buyers know they’re not going to get taken? ”
Brockway added that among innovations, Chairish is working with PayPal on buy now, pay later (BNPL) “which is increasingly appealing. We’re also seeing that people are looking for simpler ways to pay. The technology of one-click purchasing is increasingly on offer. The promise of that is compelling. ”
“All of these things go into making us a more trustworthy marketplace, which helps people get the courage to take a leap to make a purchase,” he said.
See also: Expanding Home Improvement Category Extends Nesting Trend
The ‘Pre-Loved’ Marketplace
Nesting appears to have a long and lucrative run still ahead as “remote work” becomes just “work,” and the new normal becomes spending loads of time in lovingly decked-out homes.
There are challenges to that as supply chain is far from fixed, and how we browse and then pay is undergoing more change than we’ve seen since the invention of shopping – or money itself.
Noting that pre-pandemic delivery wait times of two to three months sound dreamy compared to the current four to six months, Brockway said buying and selling “pre-loved” items solves it.
“If it’s on Chairish,” most of what we have is ready to ship now, “he said. ship it to you across country in a week or two. ”
It’s also commercially advantageous – and ethical – to source and resell vintage items for quality, style, craftsmanship, and to lighten the environmental footprint of furnishings.
“At Chairish, much of what we sell is pre-loved items,” Brockway said. “We’re helping items find second and third lives and keep them out of the landfill. That’s a big part of what we do because fast furniture is as big a problem as fast fashion. It does not get as much publicity, but it’s hard to see 12 million tons of home furnishings go into the landfill every year. ”
Additionally, it’s great value, as pre-loved items often sell at a 30% to 50% less than new.
It’s all to nurture the sense of community on this two-sided marketplace, even by doing something many others do not: allowing buyers to interact with sellers, even offline.
Brockway called it an important differentiator, as “some marketplaces do not let you know who you’re buying from. We think these small businesses are part of the reason people are willing to pay a premium. They trust who it’s coming from, and they might even know who it’s coming from. We take care of the shipping and logistics and make it a seamless, simple transaction. ”
Likening that to the rising trend of social commerce, he said it’s one more way for design lovers to keep current on what’s vintage.
“It’s in the same vein as bringing in interior designers or other influencer personalities who have a sharp eye to help identify their favorite things,” he said.
Read also: 70% of Consumers Say Addressing Climate Change Is a Key Issue, Fueling Resale Growth
Designing a Community
Noting that the massive home furnishing category is one of the last major industries to fully embrace eCommerce as we’ve come to know it, Brockway said the pandemic is pushing the sector forward on the quickstep as designers and design lovers discover digital benefits.
Pre-pandemic, “most people still had a more traditional mindset where they had to see it and touch it and sit in it before they felt comfortable bringing it into their living space,” Brockway said. “Fast forward to today, there are a whole lot of new customers who now appreciate that there are real advantages to buying things online, to searching online. ”
Put another way, it’s a community that’s finding its footing in the digital domain. That’s a central part of how décor is being done in 2022, and Chairish is enthusiastically supportive.
“For all those people, it has become more important to search and source digitally,” he told Webster. “The core of our audience, the interior design community, are people [who want the ability] to buy something 24/7 as needed and not be limited to the hours that they can get into a design center. Their working environment has evolved as well. ”
Not that Brockway said he sees design centers as the competition, per se. Rather, he sees what Chairish does as complementary to those businesses because they have similar goals.
Chairish is not competing for digital design services.
“What we are trying to do is give professional designers and third-party design services access to inventory in a way that allows them to paint a picture for their customers,” he said.
“Buying furniture through a website – which is very web 1.0 – is still for many people a new experience,” he added. “Layering on top of that more dynamic personalization so we can help you find what you’re looking for more quickly is an area where bringing technology to bear solves a problem.”
Chairish is expanding through acquisitions in Europe and focusing more on pandemic-era trends like home office and outdoor spaces. Brockway said the company will also take to livestream selling in 2022, which is “another dimension of how you connect with your community, and other newer technology opportunities to have this community feel tighter and more connected.”
Read also: Home Furnishings Marketplace Chairish Designs Its Future; Focuses on Customer, Payments Experience