E-commerce picks up the pace

An NPD research analyst describes the path for home improvement evolution.

U.S. online sales of home improvement products increased 34% in 2017, reaching nearly $20 billion, according to ecommerce insights from The NPD Group’s Checkout consumer receipt mining service. Double-digit growth was prevalent across all major home improvement category segments last year – everything from plumbing and hardware to outdoor living and decor.

Several categories, like hardware, lighting and ceiling fans, bath and faucets, and storage outpaced the overall industry’s growth in 2017. However, Checkout e-commerce information reveals that air filters and blinds were the fastest growing home improvement categories in e-commerce this year, far exceeding the industry average with 90% gains in dollar sales compared to 2016, according to the Port Washington, N.Y.-based research firm.

“The home improvement industry is realizing the impact of the ease that e-commerce brings to the consumer shopping experience,” said Joe Derochowski, executive director and home industry analyst at NPD.  “And consumers are realizing the ways online shopping can meet their home improvement needs, from auto-replenishment of low-touch, staple purchases, to providing detailed guidance in finding the right product to fit their home.”

While all home improvement categories are growing, some are still experiencing their initial online blastoff momentum with steady rises month after month, like air filters and blinds have seen over the past two years. Reviewing Checkout’s longitudinal e-commerce results, more recognizable sales trends emerge in categories that have had more time to develop in the e-commerce space, like the bath and faucets segment.

Added Derochowski: “The future path for the industry depends on three things – the consumer’s ability to connect products to their needs, the retailer’s ability to keep up with logistical demands around delivery, installation, and returns, and finally, a cohesive relationship between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce that helps consumers with whatever home improvement task is at hand.”

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