Overstock’s Technology Focus Advances E-Commerce Growth

retailers to watch_overstockIn a year that many have labeled as disruptive, retailers large and small in 2017 have worked to develop new initiatives that serve to further merge store and e-commerce operations while also meeting the ever-changing needs of a more fickle and educated consumer base.

While some retailers have struggled to meet current-day challenges, others have taken positive steps forward to establish foundations upon which they hope to boost sales and gain market share in 2018.

HomeWorld’s first annual Retailers to Watch, in the November 6 issue, looks at eight retailers from various channels making big moves to reinforce their futures. Selected by the HomeWorld editorial staff, each of the retailers chosen are taking aim at top-level sales growth in the year ahead with housewares and home at the forefront of their growth strategies.

Overstock.com

Total Stores: 0

2016 Total Sales (in millions): $1,800

2016 Housewares Sales (in millions): $228

OVERVIEW: Overstock.com is capitalizing on technology in multiple forms to propel its business. Second quarter revenues increased 3% to $432 million. However, Overstock posted an operating loss of $9.7 million and a company net loss of $7.5 million in the 2016 quarter.

The loss resulted from major Overstock investments in its blockchain business, which is building on the technology that supports Bitcoin. In addition to pursuing advanced retailer capabilities, the company is using the technology to launch new businesses. On the retail side, Overstock integrated a program with ShapeShift, an instant digital asset exchange, which allows customers to use all the major cryptocurrencies including the new Bitcoin Cash, to buy online from Overstock’s selection of four million products.

WHAT TO WATCH: Will Overstock’s fascination with technology make it a more effective retailer or will it distract senior management from advancing the virtual store? Overstock’s fortunes have sometimes turned on the fate of its founder, Patrick Byrne, whose bout with illness and social concerns, including about the effects of Wall Street on American society that have helped encourage him to explore blockchain technology, have had an historic effect on the company.

In September, tZero, an Overstock subsidiary, RenGen and the Argon Group formed a joint venture to launch an alternative trading system for the trading of blockchain-based digital security tokens issued in initial coin offerings.

Just days earlier, Overstock launched an augmented reality function allowing shoppers using a mobile phone or tablet with iOS11 to launch augmented reality directly from its app to give shoppers a 3D view of how the furniture selected will fit in their room settings.

Some vendors have praised Overstock for remaining easy to work with at a time when, they complain, Amazon.com and Wayfair.com have become more demanding and expensive-to-please partners. Overstock’s focus on technology may provide it with a point of competitive differentiation while giving suppliers free rein to drive site sales.

2018 Retailers To Watch (click on name for profile)

The Home Depot

Overstock

Target

H.E.B.

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet

Burlington

Kohl’s

West Elm