While many industries offer lightning-fast home delivery to compete with Amazon, the furniture business remains woefully slow. You order a couch online, then you wait. And wait. And wait. Six weeks pass before your couch arrives, at which point you’ve soured on the gray basketweave and wish you’d gotten the beige twill. Long lead times don’t comport with the psychology of shopping today.
Now, the Detroit-based e-commerce startup Floyd is providing same-day delivery on select furniture pieces. Order by 4 p.m., and the company’s flatpack beds and dining room tables arrive at your doorstep, ready to be assembled, by 9 p.m. The service is currently available in New York and will launch in San Francisco in April, then Los Angeles shortly thereafter, and additional markets later this year. “The bar is pretty low with furniture,” says Floyd cofounder Kyle Hoff. “We saw [same-day delivery] as a real differentiator, changing how people buy furniture.”
Same-day delivery is also just a consumer expectation nowadays. According to a study by Retail Leader, “one-third [of consumers] feel frustrated when same-day delivery isn’t an option at checkout.”
There are some perfectly logical reasons why furniture companies do not offer same-day delivery–or even two- or three-day delivery. Furniture companies typically have thousands of SKUs, and they debut new products seasonally if not more often (Ikea alone releases around 2,500 new items a year). This inventory deluge requires large, centralized warehouses that are often far from where consumers live and may require cross-country deliveries. Most companies also manufacture their products abroad, so they can’t easily ramp up or scale back production to meet demand. Finally, many furniture brands don’t flatpack their larger items–Ikea excepted–which only draws out delivery times.
Floyd was able to circumvent these problems a few ways. It has fulfillment centers directly in its main markets–New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles–so it can fill an order quickly. (Floyd partnered with the shipment startup Darkstore to handle the logistics of same-day delivery.) In-city fulfillment centers would be prohibitively expensive for companies that sell thousands of SKUs, but Floyd has a bare-bones product line–just a bed, a dining room table, and a side table, each of which packs flat–so it keeps warehouse inventory lean. Floyd also manufactures all its furniture in the United States, giving the company more control over how much to produce, and when.
Hoff and his partner Alex O’Dell started Floyd in 2013 selling hardware that could turn any flat surface into a table. Today, Floyd is a VC-backed company that has taken the tricks of the most lucrative e-comm brands–transparent delivery, sleek design, an aspirational Instagram–and applied them to the staid furniture industry. “Furniture is an industry that’s been pretty much the same for the past 50 years,” Hoff says. “The quality of, and experience around, furniture needs to be better than it is. We want to push it to be as good as any other e-commerce experience out there.”
Whether Floyd can continue delivering on that promise as it scales remains to be seen. The company has big ambitions. And the more products it offers–it recently debuted a side table, which is not yet available for same-day shipping, and has plans to release a bookshelf soon–the harder it gets to control every aspect of the brand experience. Hoff insists the company is growing slowly and organically, and will stay true to its mission of providing beautiful furniture as seamlessly as possible. As he says: “Furniture doesn’t have to be so difficult.”