• Mary Burritt

La-Z-Boy leverages e-commerce to win younger customers

The company seeks to create a 'best-in-class' digital omnipresence to leverage core customers and win younger ones.

MONROE, Mich. – To win more Millennial and Generation X customers, La-Z-Boy Inc. seeks to provide a “best-in-class” online omnipresence, which includes improving its website, supplying third-party e-commerce retailers and possibly an arrangement with Amazon Marketplace.

During the conference call about its first quarter earnings for fiscal 2018, Kurt Darrow, company president and CEO, said the upholstered and motion furniture retailer is pursuing three e-commerce opportunities: increasing online sales of La-Z-Boy Furniture “through La-Z-Boy.com and other digital companies," leveraging the company’s global supply chain to supply other online sellers and investing in new online companies.

“While La-Z-Boy is an online brand, we recognize it does not effectively reach all consumers, particularly Millennial and Generation X, who are looking for nontraditional brands and experiences,” Darrow said.

“La-Z-Boy is the most powerful brand in the industry, and while research tells us the majority of our core customers continue to shop in stores, most are spending a lot of time on line researching purchases beforehand. So we believe we need to have a best-in-class digital presence for consumers, particularly new consumers, to discover and experience our brand.”

Improvements to the company’s website and its images on Wayfair already have yielded increased traffic and “an uptick in sales,” Darrow said.

La-Z-Boy also is “exploring potential opportunities with Amazon marketplace that would complement and support our existing distribution,” Darrow said, but he declined to elaborate.

“We’re in discussions with Amazon about Amazon Marketplace, but we don’t have a final proposal we’re ready to go forward with yet. We don’t want to put out a number we can’t substantiate or support.”

An improved online presence will also reach core customers, Darrow said. “Normal industry thinking is customers used to shop three or four, perhaps five stores before making a decision. Now, with all the research online, she may be shopping one or two, she’s more predisposed to buy and comes in with more ideas about what she wants and may have more questions about how certain things work.”

Capturing that customer online before she enters the store improves the opportunity to upsell. “You have to make more out of the customer who walks in the door,” Darrow said.

La-Z-Boy also has “secured supply agreements with three e-commerce brands and are in conversations with others,” he added, and “is investing in new online players” but again declined to elaborate.

“In short, our goal is to make the brand come alive online and ensure it is omnipresent wherever the consumer looks.”

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