An extensive history in e-commerce and a low-price guarantee keep this discount furniture retailer strong in a shaky market. Furniture retailers often struggle with having to buy inordinate amounts of inventory, estimate what products will move, and, when they run into a slow time, liquidate the leftovers at extremely low prices. These are problems One Way Furniture has avoided since its founding in 2001 due to a direct manufacturer business platform that cuts out the middle man.
Headquartered in Farmingdale, NY, One Way Furniture provides discount online furniture direct from name-brand manufacturers. The company offers lower prices to consumers because it sells furniture direct from leading manufacturers, eliminating the freight costs often hidden in furniture store prices. It also acts as a direct source, enabling manufacturers to ship directly to consumers.
Because the company doesn’t purchase a large amount of inventory from manufacturers, instead buying on demand or one order at a time, it keeps its operating overhead extremely low. Founder and CEO Mitchell Lieberman said that although the economy has cut into One Way Furniture’s growth plan like most in the furniture industry, the company’s unique business platform has positioned it for a strong future.
“This economy has definitely impacted sales, but it has also created a wonderful opportunity. Many of our manufacturers still need trustworthy partners to sell their products,” Lieberman said. “Once we emerge from this recession, I think we’ll be a lot stronger because we’ve continued to support our manufacturers and our valued customers.”
The ability to see a strong future stems from One Way Furniture’s diverse customer base, expansive product selection, and long history in the world of e-commerce. The company’s products range from accent, baby, bar, bedroom, kitchen, living room, and entertainment furniture to office, outdoor, and college furniture.
In recent months, the company has seen a rise in business with college students, kids moving out, and those seeking deals on lower-priced, quality furniture. Demand for contemporary, modern furniture, which is often priced a bit higher, has also increased.
Lieberman said approximately 70% of One Way Furniture’s sales go to the residential side of its customer base, with the remaining 30% going to commercial companies ranging from government agencies to local businesses. The diversity of the customer base has helped balance the sales, and it has spread the word across many consumer segments that it’s easy to work with One Way Furniture—a message that’s not easy to communicate for most companies that are 100% online.
“We first began selling online in the mid-1990s, before One Way Furniture existed, when most companies were avoiding the Internet,” said Lieberman. “We were the very first seller on eBay and grabbed the username Furniture. That head-start in sales has given us a lot of opportunity.”
Many companies jumping into the world of e-furniture sales ignore the quality control factor. Instead, they will pursue any manufacturer willing to ship direct. But One Way Furniture isn’t in a rush to add new manufacturers without proper due diligence; the company looks for quality name brands that can offer a good product and superior customer service. “We end up rejecting more than half of the manufacturers that come to us with product lines to sell,” said Lieberman.
The company’s process for choosing manufacturers includes a stringent quality control process, which often involves inspecting a sample product before agreeing to carry a new manufacturer’s line. “We ask for a sampling of products to see how they’re constructed before making any final decisions about bringing in new manufacturer partners,” he said. “It’s one of the many ways we let our customers know they can put their trust in One Way Furniture.”
One of the challenges in the world of e-commerce is figuring out how to price your goods so consumers aren’t shocked once they see delivery charges at checkout. Often, shipping and handling costs turn consumers off, leading to a high level of shopping cart abandonment.
Because One Way Furniture offers “free” shipping blended into the price of its goods, consumers are never shocked when they go to make their final purchases. “In the beginning, we experimented with shipping charges, but our customers made it clear that they prefer a landed price,” said Lieberman.
Even with the cost of shipping blended into the final price, in most cases, One Way Furniture’s prices are still lower than competitor sites, which illustrate the company’s long history in the business. “Our manufacturers now understand our margin requirements,” he said.
Lately, however, manufacturers have started implementing MAP (minimum advertised prices) where they require all dealers to sell an item at a fixed price. Rather than objecting to such measures, Lieberman supports manufacturers’ efforts to level the playing field because he believes consumers will make their purchase decisions based on where they feel comfortable and the reputation of the store they’re buying from.
“We also offer a unique lowest price guarantee, which currently extends for six months from the date of purchase,” said Lieberman. “We may extend it to a full year after the holidays.”
One Way Furniture’s ability to offer this kind of a price guarantee comes back to its history in the world of e-commerce. The company has more than a decade of experience in furniture purchasing, and Lieberman said customers would be hard-pressed to find these kinds of deals anywhere other then One Way Furniture. If they do find a lower price, he’s happy to refund the difference because it creates a bond with the customer.
“When they find a lower price, we will gladly match it. We also look at the competitor price so we can lower our prices to ensure our customer gets the best value online,” Lieberman said. “We find that customer is loyal and will likely shop with us again.”