This week Amazon debuted two new furniture brands exclusive to its website: Rivet, a midcentury modern-inspired collection of upholstered goods, case goods, lighting, artwork, rugs, and decor items, and Stone & Beam, a transitional-modern collection of the same assortment of goods. With these collections, Amazon is poised to upend furniture shopping–but not for the reasons you expect.
Rivet and Stone & Beam are inoffensive and safe, style-wise. Everything from Rivet–the more “millennial” line–looks like a close cousin of CB2, West Elm, Ikea, and Target. With its jewel-toned velvet lounge chairs, walnut veneers, blackened metal accents, and emphasis on small-space solutions, it’s surely targeted toward pumkin-spice latte drinkers and #houseporn Instagrammers. Meanwhile, Stone & Beam–the more mature and expensive line–looks akin to Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn. Think tones of beige and greige, slip-covered arm chairs, leather Chesterfields, and antique-inspired lighting–things you you might spy on the set of a movie about a middle-aged divorcee getting her groove back.
But the style and design of Amazon’s new furniture isn’t what’s interesting; the real game changer is all in the delivery.
Amazon has sold furniture in the past, but with the launch of its own collections–most of which is Prime eligible–it’s also expediting some of the most cumbersome products to ship. Amazon can get a $999 tufted loveseat to you in four days and with free shipping; a dead-ringer at Pottery Barn would cost you $2,000, take two to four weeks to deliver, and require an extra $100 shipping fee. If the tech giant can deliver virtually the same product as the competition faster, and at a lower cost, it stands a chance at cornering the market for furniture buyers who want nice things but care more about efficiency than provenance.
To produce the pieces, Amazon collaborated with “well-respected manufacturers that have strong reputations in their respective industries,” according to Furniture Today.
Amazon’s mass-market competitors are attempting to solve the same e-commerce dilemma in their own ways. Ikea is moving toward a post-store model that can deliver furniture quickly to e-commerce customers, and it recently purchased Taskrabbit to help streamline furniture buying and delivery. The Swedish brand also developed an augmented-reality app to help shoppers envision what new furniture might look like in their own living rooms, theoretically eliminating the need to ever visit the box store. Earlier this month, Amazon launched a similar AR shopping app.
Target, too, is beefing up its e-commerce operations to compete with Amazon. Much of its recently launched Project 62 line of midcentury inspired furnishings can be shipped express in two days with no additional fees. In addition to Target, Ikea, and Amazon, a fleet of startups are attempting to crack the delivery problem through flat-pack design.
Amazon launched 23 years ago as bookseller, but has since evolved into a platform that gives people everything they might want–food, entertainment, and every product imaginable all without lifting a finger–swiftly and often at a lower cost. It’s the reason over 66 million people subscribe to Amazon Prime today, and why the company has reason to think those customers could soon eschew brick-and-mortar stores when they need to refresh their living rooms. “Our customers are loyal to us right up until the second somebody offers them a better service,” CEO Jeff Bezos told Fast Company earlier this year. “And I love that. It’s super-motivating for us.”
Compared to other companies, Amazon’s true innovation is taking control of entire supply chains. It doesn’t just deliver on-demand movies through Prime Video; it’s also producing films and enabling content creators. The same with furniture; it’s not only selling a sofa, but designing it and delivering it to you, too. Amazon killed the bookstore. Will the same happen to the furniture store?