While the majority of the retail industry is confronted with skyfalls in overall sales, painful layoffs to its workforce, and even cliff falls into bankruptcy, there has emerged a bunch of resilient wanderers who have collected very fruitful baskets of the green stuff.
There were some retailers that have remained open through the pandemic so far, which have done so because they are considered essential. According to the US National Conference of State Legislatures, essential sectors of the economy covers utilities, food production, transportation, and critical retail. Retailers such as Walmart, Costco, and Target have all remained open and netted improved sales.
For the non-essential retailers, getting online and focussing everything on improved ecommerce operations has become essential. Even if retailers achieved this, overall sales have recorded steep drops while shopdoors remained shuttered — where in-store sales are overwhelmingly the biggest source of revenue.
Yet despite this general trend, the pandemic has produced a handful of surprises in areas deemed non-essential.
With millions more Americans working from home in the last half a year, and even more students learning from home, they’ve had more time to look around their living rooms and kitchens and feel displeased about what their eyes captured — which turns out that when you spend almost all day, every day at home, your desire for home improvement increases.
The home sector saw a lockdown sales boost from people investing in home office equipment, comfier chairs, and classroom-alternative equipment and furnishing — such as whiteboards and webcams.
Non-essential trends shifted from restaurants, travel, and entertainment (pre-pandemic) to home improvement goods and home furnishing (during the pandemic). And among this sector, a few companies stand out. Including those using Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Let’s take a look.
At Home reported 50.5% year-on-year growth to its net sales to $515.2 million in Q2. Yes. Its net sales! Not just online sales.
At Home relies heavily on its in-store sales for profitability. And so when doors had to be shuttered — firstly in March — the forecast looked bleak. Yet the retail chain reacted fast, and its reaction was aided by their ecommerce platform that is hosted on Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
At Home began to pilot the strategy of buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS as many like to abbreviate it, probably for it being horribly memorable; how about pushing for BOPO as an alternative — buy online pickup offline? Anyone?) in 28 of its stores back in January, and so was in a good position to roll it out quickly to more stores.
As well as this, when its doors could reopen, its stores are large enough to instil a sense of safety among people, given that their large size enables social distancing to be carried out easily.
Before the pandemic, Wayfair already had a good ecommerce presence, which ideally placed them in a strong position for the incoming online shopping storm. Even so, it has been struggling in recent years.
Such is Wayfair’s performance that it wasn’t until the last quarter that it finally made a profit since it first debuted on the market six years ago. It’s net income hit $273.9 million — its first quarterly profit since 2014.
Like Wayfair, Overstock focuses on ecommerce. But pre-pandemic it was struggling to stabilize its profitability. Yet those clouds of uncertainty ironically dissipated during the pandemic. Its performance in Q2 resulted in its net revenue growing 109% to $767 million — a record for the company.
Within this, its ecommerce operations remained strong, with online orders growing 167% between February and May.
Some struggling companies within a long-term sluggish sector are soaring, sustaining growth and hoping that their recent performances will place them in a sustainable position moving forwards, past the pandemic and into times of relative calm.