• Clint Engel

Benchmade Modern scores

Amazon Prime Day debut sets record

Amazon PrimeSAN FRANCISCO — Amazon wasn’t the only furniture seller setting records on Prime Day.

Online custom furniture shop Benchmade Modern launched a new partnership with the e-commerce giant on the July 11 promotion day and came away with a big win, too, Founder and CEO Edgar Blazona told Furniture Today.

He declined to disclose sales figures but said, “We’ve never seen that many items sold in one day on our (own) site.” Amazon didn’t disclose its figures but said this Prime Day was the biggest sales day in its history, up more than 60% over last year and surpassing Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

The Amazon/Benchmade partnership was about nine months in the making, Blazona said, adding that it positioned the maker and seller of modern upholstery, upholstered beds and other items as a lead custom furniture seller in the furniture section of Amazon’s marketplace.

“We partnered with them to create the same custom Benchmade Modern experience but on Amazon, utilizing Amazon’s trusted platform,” he said.

The program started with a limited assortment — eight upholstery collections with four or five pieces in each, including sofas, loveseats and chairs, but not the e-tailer’s upholstered beds, sofa beds or sectionals. It also included a more limited choice of fabrics and leg finishes.

And while Benchmade is known for offering pieces that are customizable by 1-inch increments, on the Amazon marketplace, its sofas were offered in 2-inch increments.

Prices, he said, are the same on both the marketplace and BenchmadeModern.com, as Amazon uses an algorithm that picks up item pricing from Benchmade’s site. While the offering carried the “Prime” badge, Amazon noted the goods usually ship in two to three weeks. Blazona said strong business has pushed out Benchmade’s delivery window, which previously had been as short as seven days.

Blazona declined to disclose exact terms of the partnership, but he said the sales on Amazon register as Benchmade Modern sales, with Amazon taking an undisclosed percentage — similar to the arrangement Benchmade Modern has with Houzz under another marketplace partnership it launched earlier this year.

It also follows the basic idea behind a new program slated to launch in the third quarter that Amazon pitched to furniture retailers at the April High Point Market, in which Amazon would get a 15% share of product sales and 20% of delivery and other services.

Blazona said the Amazon business is different and speedier for Benchmade, “basically what we would consider a one-click sale, where the customer isn’t requesting swatches and is not going through our funnel.

“They’re basically purchasing a highly considered item instantly,” he said.

On Prime Day, Benchmade scored one of four main image slots rotating at the top of Amazon’s furniture page, sharing the prime space with Ethan Allen, another furniture maker and seller new to the platform. Since that day’s launch, Benchmade’s sales on the site have trailed off, but that’s not surprising or unlike the pattern the company sees following a big promotion on its own website, he said.

Longer term, Blazona said the partnership will lead to greater exposure for the Benchmade Modern brand along with sales and production growth.

“There’s a big push by Amazon to get into the furniture industry, and we’re not afraid of that by any means,” he said. “We’re a direct-to-consumer brand, and we believe through partnerships like this we can create brand exposure and sales. Clearly they have more eyeballs than we do, and we would like to be a part of that.”

Amazon didn’t disclose percentage growth figures for its furniture business but indicated it was a success. The top furniture product categories that day were mattresses, upholstered sofas and armchairs, headboards and beds, and area rugs, said Amazon’s Furniture General Manager Veenu Taneja.

“Amazon.com offered thousands of deals on furniture products as part of Prime Day this year,” he said in an email to Furniture Today.

“We saw a lot of customer excitement around our Deal of the Day furniture products, including the Zinus gel-infused green tea memory foam mattress, Amazon- Basics high-back executive chair, Ashley Furniture Mestler coffee table and Safavieh Adirondack vintage area rug.”

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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