Following a year that has seen accelerated expansion of digital home furnishings sales, Chairish CEO Gregg Brockway said he’s proud of how much the company has grown during a difficult time. The marketplace now has 580,000 items listed from 10,000 sellers, reaching 4.5 million shoppers each month.
But while Brockway is happy with the progress made in the U.S., he told PYMNTS that online home furnishing sales “is a global opportunity. Design lovers want to see the best things from everywhere, and we want to be able to ship it anywhere.”
So for the past several months, Brockway said Chairish has been thinking about how to take “that next big step, how do we go from being a marketplace focused on the U.S. to embracing the world.” And on Tuesday (Aug. 3), it unveiled how: by acquiring Pamono, a European online marketplace for vintage and antique furniture and art.
Like Chairish, Brockway said, Pamono sees a global opportunity in the online furniture market, and the companies have a similar customer base. Additionally, the Chairish CEO said Europe is a “very complementary” market to the U.S., and many of the items sold on Chairish already come from Europe.
To be sure, Europe is a vastly different market than the U.S., covering multiple countries, cultures and markets that collectively become “the European market.”
“Added together, it’s a big opportunity,” Brockway said, noting that Pamono, while based in Germany, has a pan-Europe footprint and sources products from all over the continent.
“And so it was a nice way for us to go even faster toward getting people the best things from everywhere,” he said. “Rather than going into each market individually and develop our presence, we’re able to step in and through them, we have a presence in all those key areas.”
Chairish is not the only marketplace looking at Europe as an arena for international expansion. Last month, thredUP announced plans to acquire Bulgaria-based resale platform Remix to give it a foothold in Europe’s emerging resale market, part of the initial phase of an international expansion strategy.
Chairish predicts that by 2024, the global online furniture market will grow to $84.2 billion, and Brockway said the goal is for Chairish to be at the center of that market.
“This is a global opportunity, and we would like to be a global platform,” the CEO said. “So this is not the last step we’ll be taking. It’s just the next step.”
Chairish and Pamono also have an advantage over other furniture brands in that the companies carry vintage and antique products, which have recently spiked in popularity as supply chain issues slow deliveries of new furniture.
“Vintage has become more interesting and important than ever to design lovers, and so on top of all the other reasons why this made sense, the timing was good because vintage is in even more demand and we want to do an even better job of showing people the best things from everywhere,” Brockway said.
No Letting Up
Despite some “real challenges along the way,” especially in March 2020 when COVID-19 became a global pandemic, Brockway said Chairish saw huge demand for home furnishings — demand that has yet to let up.
Growth rates have declined, Brockway said, as the company laps last year’s accelerated growth, but “we think the overall market will continue to grow at a more measured pace.” Prior to the pandemic, home furnishings had low digital penetration relative to other consumer categories, but the pandemic led to a massive wave in online adoption.
“And what you’ve seen in other industries is that it never goes back,” Brockway said. “I think people have come to learn and appreciate the benefits of purchasing online.” A certain share of consumers will want to touch and see home furnishing merchandise up close before making a purchase, he added, but online will continue to be “a much bigger, more important channel for the buyers and sellers of home furnishings.”