Millennials have different expectations when it comes to online shopping.
This cohort of shoppers, roughly ages 20-37, has grown up during the rise of Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500) and is used to having a wealth of information via the internet at their fingertip. For online retailers, that means these shoppers have come to expect fast and free shipping and want plenty of information on a retailer’s products, says Stephen Kuhl, CEO and co-founder of web-only furniture retailer Burrow.
More than half of Burrow’s customers are 25 to 35 years old. Burrow, which launched in April 2017, has surpassed a rate of $500,000 in sales per month and its sales are growing roughly 20% month over month, he says.
The New York-based retailer has several strategies to cater to millennials shoppers. For instance, one of the site’s six choices on the navigation menu at the top of its site is an “our story” section that explains Burrow’s value proposition, why its products are high quality and bios about the co-founders, all to help the shopper feel more connected to the retailer.
“Millennial shoppers are used to researching everything,” Kuhl says. “Information is so easily attainable online and people can do research. As a result, a lot of companies that have popped up on the internet provide transparency into what they’re making. People want to know why they are buying something and why what they are buying is the best thing.”
The retailer also emphasizes its fast and free shipping without a purchase minimum. It ships its products via UPS ground shipping within a day of a shopper placing an order. Items typically arrive in about a week, Kuhl says. While furniture retailers may offer free shipping with a minimum purchase, Burrow.com has free shipping with no minimum purchase, he says.
Burrow’s unique design enables it to ship sofas quickly. The sofas ship in a box, don’t require tools to assemble, are mass produced, durable and easy to move, he says. The retailer went through 20 iterations and prototypes before settling on its patent-pending design.
Each sofa “seat” comes in its own box that unfolds and locks with its accompanying seats and arm rests to create the couch. The sofa can be assembled in about 10 minutes via a series of latches, catches and levers that lock into place, Kuhl sys.
An easy set up surely resonates with any shopper, but especially for an urban-based millennial who is more likely to move, Kuhl says.
Interlocking pieces also allow the sofa to be stored in several flat boxes that can stack in Burrow’s factory, which also is atypical as it is not common practice to stack furniture high, Kuhl says. The retailer manufactures and ships the furniture straight from its factory in Mississippi, he says.
The summer months are the largest season for the retailer, as many urban consumers move during this time period and thus, buy a new couch, he says. The retailer is excited to see if this is the case again in summer 2018, which would be just more than a year after the merchant’s launch.
More than half of Burrow’s sales are from “free” marketing channels, such as email marketing and word of mouth, although the retailer has several other marketing strategies to get the word out about Burrow, including paid social media ads, paid search ads, podcasts and events. Events include hosting happy hours at its office and “setting up a couch” at public events such as a street festival or 5K race.
Burrow also has a “pop-up lounge” in two New York malls to learn how consumers interact with its brand. The mall lets Burrow set up shop in the middle area of the mall where Santa usually sits for free January-February, so it was inexpensive to do this market research, Kuhl says.
“We learned you have to be direct when you tell a story,” Kuhl says. “For our brand, people’s first inclination when it comes in a box is that it’s like Ikea. In reality, it’s not like Ikea. We have much more premium materials, and the experience is 10-times better.”
Burrow is now playing around with different types of messaging and videos to clearly communicate this, he says.