What does Best Buy’s acquisition of Yardbird mean for the casual industry?

With news that Best Buy has acquired outdoor furniture brand Yardbird, it begs the question: are direct-to-consumer casual furnishings companies coming to disrupt the industry?

In truth, it’s already happening. DTC brands like Outer, The Inside, Terrain, and others have capitalized on the outdoor business by offering durable outdoor furniture that can be bought from the comfort of a consumer’s home.

And though with Yardbird this is one of the first major outdoor acquisitions by a giant mainstream retailer, if you look at what’s happening in the mattress and indoor furniture industry, the same thing will likely happen with outdoor.

Purple, Tuft+Needle, Casper, Nectar—all of these DTC mattress brands have been raising the bar and selling millions of units direct to consumers. Not only has it upped their overall business, but it’s driven product development, increased customer relationships and trust, and beat many traditional retailers on pricing. 

These DTC companies have increased access to customer data and purchasing behaviors, which gives them the upper hand. They can cross-sell and upsell products and while personalizing everything from a consumer’s shopping experience to the ads they are served. They can also offer competitive pricing and discounts.

There are already several outdoor furniture manufacturers that sell DTC through Wayfair, Costco, Target, and other bigger retailers, which is why it’s more important than ever for the casual industry to do two things.

First, manufacturers must have a specialty-only line to offer retailers. If they don’t, what’s stopping consumers from buying the same product for a cheaper price online? Not only does that hurt the retailer, but in the end, it could hurt the manufacturer if the retailer doesn’t feel that the products will sell in their store. 

They could stop buying altogether. And even though outdoor brands sell DTC, retailers are still an important part of their business that they can’t afford to neglect. Retailers have websites, too, and if manufacturers can help them with all of the things they need to make their websites stand out, everyone can succeed.

Second, for retailers, it’s important to know your competition and be able to speak intelligently about the benefit of buying from you as opposed to buying online. You have to be able to explain clearly—and back up—why the chat set you are selling costs more than the one they saw online. 

One idea is to set up store promotions that last beyond the sale, like inviting customers to test the furniture and return it if they don’t like it. For many, it’s the psychology behind knowing that they can return it if they need to that makes them happier with the purchase and less likely to actually return it.

You can even go a step further and say that if the durable furniture you’re selling doesn’t hold up after five years and they return to buy more, you’ll give them a discount on the new set. 

Best Buy’s purchase of Yardbird is significant for the outdoor industry, but it’s not necessarily the beginning of the end. 

If everyone works together to offer the best value on the unique products being sold, you can show the consumer the true value of outdoor furniture as well as the value of buying in-store from an educated sales associate.

Alex Milstein

Alex Milstein is a contributor and social media coordinator for Home News Now and editor in chief of Casual News Now. He previously served as senior editor of both Casual Living and Designers Today. Prior to that, Alex covered technology for Furniture Today, with a focus on augmented reality, e-commerce, and 3D visualization.

View all posts by Alex Milstein →

2 thoughts on “What does Best Buy’s acquisition of Yardbird mean for the casual industry?

  1. As a co-founder of Yardbird, I would argue that traditional retailers need to do two things to remain competitive if the industry continues to change in ways it has been in the past decade: start sourcing more from factories directly and put together a cohesive online experience. To the former point, there is not a lot of justification (aside from capital) to buy from these sourcing and design companies at the Chicago merchandise mart, they add 30 to 50 points and often it’s just as easy to work directly with the factories.

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