Wayfair's dominance in £13m per month Furniture sector relies on one room of the home

By Laura Carroll • 24 March 2022 • minutes reading time

Investing in digital infrastructure and marketing has never been more important. Significant global and national events such as COVID-19 and Brexit have created a wealth of opportunities and challenges in the eCommerce industry.

Home eCommerce is one such sector that has had to face a number of challenges, from supply shortages to unstable pricing and sourcing of key materials to keep up with consumer demand. Yet home furniture brands have also benefitted from the online shift occurring in the wider eCommerce landscape. Barclaycard data shows that spending on furniture increased by +19.8% (Yo2Y) in 2021 – if the furniture sector hopes to maintain this growth, it needs to continue to adapt its digital strategy.

As the Search market settles to a pre-COVID normal, it’s the furniture brands that have learned how to adapt to a shift in consumer behaviours that are set to sustain their organic online presence. But adapting means staying ahead of the digital landscape and taking advantage of best practices across multiple digital disciplines including Search, Digital PR, and CRO.

Our report reveals who is leading the way in the furniture sector, how they have achieved their results, and where challenger brands can hope to make an impact in such a competitive online marketplace.

Overall furniture sector is worth more than £13m per month, but Wayfair owns a 33% market share by dominating one room

Our report found that the organic market value of organic search clicks is worth over £13m per month in the furniture sector. However, analysing the combined commercial value of segment-specific keywords reveals that bedroom furniture is the most lucrative segment, while living room furniture accounts for the greatest amount of monthly search traffic.

Wayfair.co.uk not only dominate the furniture sector with a 33% share, but have capitalised on the value of bedroom furniture by securing a 44% share of that segment, meaning that their total traffic is worth over £5m per month.

But that’s not to say that other furniture sectors aren’t seeing success or growth. In fact, the organic success of several furniture sites is currently focused on the less lucrative and yet second most searched Dining segment. Oak Furnitureland is dominating the Dining sector with an organic traffic value of more than £500,000 per month. Furniturechoice.co.uk is set to take over the Dining space with 40% of their ranking keywords showing up on page 1 of Google.

Success in any sector appears to be determined by the strength of their keyword strategy. Wayfair currently hold coveted #1 spots for a variety of highly competitive commercial terms such as Coffee Tables, Bunk Bed, and Office Chairs. Conversely, Habitat.co.uk rank for over 115,000 keywords yet only appear on page 1 of Google 14% of the time. This shows a clear correlation between ranking well for relevant, commercial keywords and a site’s ability to dominate a particular furniture category.

Furniture sector is only achieving 0.04% of its potential for SERP features

Using schema to make your site compatible with Google SERP features is an key part of winning a greater share of customer clicks. If your search result stands out, you stand to earn more from your rankings. Some of the most frequent SERP features Google awards sites are featured snippets, FAQs, and featured videos – all proven to steal away clicks that would otherwise go to the #1 result.

Yet these SERP features are continually under-utilised by the furniture sector. Made.com alone are missing out on 26,508 opportunities for live SERP features. Out of a total of 550512 SERP features, only 254 are currently live for the furniture brands in our report, leading us to wonder what kind of traffic these sites could stand to gain if they increased their share of SERP features.

Featured snippets can be understood as a vote of confidence from Google. Our research shows that there are almost 64,000 featured snippet opportunities available for key furniture brands, yet only 159 featured snippets are live. As market share leaders, Wayfair is championing featured snippets, but still only realising 0.4% of their potential.  This is where challenger brands can make strides. For example, Furniture Choice has 14 live featured snippets (2% of those available) – their site is eligible for relatively few compared to larger competitors, showing that Google trusts and values the content they do have.

It’s not just featured snippets that are under-utilised. Furniture Village leads on FAQ SERP features but only at 0.5% of their potential, and not one of the top 20 furniture brands in our report has a live featured video snippet out of a potential 568 opportunities.

Lack of site schema accounts for poor SERP feature performance

How are these big brands missing out on such a huge opportunity? The answer lies in the site’s schema. Google can’t be instructed which SERP features to show for which content, so it uses schema to make its decisions. Adding the right schema to the right places can make or break your ability to attain SERP features for target search results.

Our report reveals that none of the top 20 furniture sites is using How To or Video Schema and only five are using blog schema. Furniture Village, Fishpools, and Furniture Choice each use six of the key schema types we used in our analysis, which indicates a high technical SEO standard across these sites. Technical SEO should be a fundamental part of your organic strategy to facilitate valuable SERP real estate wherever possible.

Product PR leads the way for high-quality coverage

Achieving backlinks of high quality should be the focus of any Digital PR campaign. Rather than measuring the number of links you can bring in, you should be looking at gaining relevant coverage. Our report splits high-quality coverage into two categories:

  • Topical Sources – Specialist and relevant sites to the furniture industry or related sector (eg. idealhome.co.uk, which.co.uk, realhomes.com)
  • Tier 1 – National news and editorial sites with large audiences or reach (eg. yahoo.com, dailymail.co.uk, metro.co.uk)

Brands leading the way for high-profile backlinks are targeting a mix of Tier 1 and Topical publications. Dunelm dominate Tier 1 sites, only missing a link from the Daily Star out of our 18 Tier 1 sites. Habitat and Made.com dominate Topical sites, achieving links on 18 or our 19 most relevant Topical sites.

But how are they doing it? Our report finds that the furniture brands with the most successful Digital PR campaigns rely on product PR – their backlink profile heavily features top trends lists, sales articles, and upcoming trend lists. Other Digital PR methods that prove successful for furniture sites include expert commentary and business news.

A -1 second reduction in Page Load Time can transform the level of return delivered through organic search

Great site speed is essential, not a nice-to-have. Reducing your PLT (Page Load Time) has the potential to transform the level of return delivered to your site through organic visits. Several companies across the furniture sector could benefit from even a -1 second reduction in PLT.

Our CRO analysis found that Dunelm in particular could be losing out on £25m through high page load times. They have one of the lowest PLTs (15 seconds on 4G) but by reducing PLT by -3 seconds, Dunelm could recoup £12m every month by reducing the number of visitors who bounce because of a slow website experience. Similarly, Made.com, Habitat, and Furniture Village could be retaining over £200k of traffic with just a -1 second PLT improvement, based on their current SEO value.

Want to understand more about the Search landscape for furniture retailers? Get in touch today.

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