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E-Commerce, People, Retailers

Amazon Eyes A Growing Share of the Area Rug Business

Amazon's Kristiana Helmick outlines the e-tailers strategy in the home category.

By Lisa Vincenti
LAS VEGAS -- Amazon Home seeks to grow its share of the home furnishings market -- and area rugs are a rapidly growing component of that strategy. 
In fact, at Las Vegas Market, the online behemoth showcased two major programs designed to boost its share of the online home furnishing segment. The Seattle-based e-tailer at market launched its new curated Novogratz storefront, which includes the celebrity designer duos' Novogratz by Momeni area rug collection. And Momeni also has a branded storefront.

Amazon also used Las Vegas Market to showcase its collaboration with Belgian furniture maker Flamant, which launched its U.S. debut at Amazon. Throughout the Amazon showroom at World Market Center Building A, the Flamant home furnishing vignettes were finished with Loloi area rugs and pillows.

At the showroom, shoppers could scan QPS codes and shop an entire room setting online. Not only were Amazon representatives swamped handling the traffic visiting the ninth floor space, Amazon uses its time at Las Vegas Market and High Point to meet with new vendors.

L.A.-based designer and Bravo TV celebrity Cortney Novogratz poses with Amazon's Kristiana Helmick in a vignette of the Novogratz collection of furnishings and area rugs now available on the e-tailer's site.
Amazon's director of home innovation, Kristiana Helmick, and her team's focus is to invest in the shopping experience -- to build the best possible experience for customers. "One of the ways we do that is by coming to Las Vegas Market to tell the story of Amazon Home," Helmick explained. "In our showroom today [July 31], we are showcasing our partnership with Novogratz. We've created a customized boutique for customers that are looking for a little more guidance. When they're shopping, they can order a complete vignette from our store and have it delivered to their doorstep in two days with Prime shipping."

To date, Amazon has leased showroom space at High Point Market and Las Vegas Market, two fairs it plans to continue participating in.

RugNews.com sat down with Helmick in an exclusive interview during Las Vegas Market to find out the online retailer's strategy in the home furnishings category, and in the area rug segment in particular. What's more, we asked Helmick what area vendors should do to establish a relationship with the e-commerce giant.

How much of your business is generated by home furnishing sales today? 

KH: I can tell you furniture is one of the fastest growing retail categories on Amazon right now. Within that, rugs are a key sector. It's the center of the home. One of the other aspects of our showroom and our store that we're showcasing today is our partnership with Loloi, which provided all the rugs and pillows you can see in the showroom [for Flamant]. We're grateful for the opportunity to partner with key suppliers and build their business. Loloi is one. Also Nuloom, Nourison and Safavieh. These are partners that have leaned in with us, and we're excited to invest in their business.  

The Novogratz home furnishings collection and area rugs by Momeni debuted this week at a a dedicated storefront on Amazon.com.

How do your home furnishings relationships evolve? 
KH: We're always looking to expand the selection for our customers. Across all aspects of home furnishings - rugs, furniture and home décor - we've been able to collaborate with many brands. We're excited that many of those brands have seen success with us. For example, on Prime Day, which was last month, we had one partner let us know they had their best sales day ever. 

How many rug vendors do you work with right now? 
KH: I can tell you that we have a wide variety. The good news at Amazon is that we are not constrained by physical space. We can offer merchandising and awareness for virtually any rug manufacturer that wants to work with us. 

Do you require anything in terms of exclusivity of product on Amazon or is it strictly up to the rug vendors what they choose to showcase on Amazon?
KH: We like offering a wide variety of selection. I do not believe we have any exclusive rug relationships right now. Our doors are open. We like to let customers choose what they want. Sometimes I get the question about what I see as the trends. We like to let customers tell us and we give them the options."
The Amazon Las Vegas Market Showroom also showcased Belgian-based Flamant furniture accessorized with Loloi area rugs and pillows.
How are you differentiating from the other home furnishing sites online such as Overstock or Wayfair? 
KH: We like to focus on how we're creating solutions for customers. We focus on what we think customers need us to do for them. A swatch program where you can look and feel the product is one key way to do that. Prime two day shipping is another key way to do that. Creating an easy way for customers to discover the product through the curated selection, such as our Novogratz boutique is another way. 

Have rug vendors been coming in a talking to you here? 
KH: Yes. We have a party tonight to celebrate our Novogratz partnership, and every evening we offer seminars to our suppliers and manufacturers who want to learn more about how to succeed on Amazon. One key role we would like our showroom to serve is as a way to help our suppliers understand how to build their brands. That's why we have our consulting sessions every evening and throughout the day. As you can see in the back, we have some hands on coaching going on. 

Novogratz by Momeni area rugs will be sold alonside the Novogratz home collection on Amazon's website.

Do vendors have to invest a lot in technology to be able to work with you? 
KH: When you think about shopping on Amazon as a customer, it's straightforward. No one shops on Amazon as a customer and thinks about having to invest in technology to shop. Our goal is to do the same for our vendors. It should be a seamless self-service experience that's exactly as you experience as a customer. In cases where it's not, we're here to work with our suppliers.   

If a rug vendor does want to work with Amazon, what do you suggest they do?
KH: They should stop by our showroom. Our doors are open. That's why we're here. 

So what about in between the markets? How should people reach out?
KH: They're welcome to email me. We're based in Seattle. 

A Loloi tribal geometric area rug design, available at Amazon, graces a display furniture Belgian-based Flamant in Amazon's Vegas showroom.
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