This is an awesome article and it is such a basic idea that our industry doesn't get!
I've talked to many retailers in the home furnishing industry and my take is that 70%+ do not post prices for fear of being "shopped on line."....Guess what, you are anyway! Those that sell on line state their revenues are between 2%-5% of their total sales. To a retailer doing $50MM+ that equates to $1MM-$2.5MM. Now we don't know if that is cannibalized from a showroom sale, yet either way I deem it as "found money"!
Let's look at this with some really basic thinking:
Maybe the customer is "hunting" for that perfect sofa or living room. They may shop a couple retailers, sit on it, touch it and imagine how it looks in their home....BUT they just aren't ready to pull the trigger on the purchase.
After thinking about it, figuring out finances, etc...or they win the $600 billion dollar lottery today, they decide to buy it. Why would they need to drive all the way back to the store, wait around, fill out paperwork, etc...when they can go to the website, point/click/buy it in less than a minute....PLUS they're saving $20 on the gasoline to get there.
Case Goods...wood pieces for those not in the know, are much easier to buy on line. You can read about construction, see the carving details, etc and feel somewhat comfortable about the purchase. BUT let's say you already bought the dining room table, but you couldn't afford extra chairs, the server, etc. Why drive all the back to the store when you can buy the extra "parts" on line.
With that said, the same is even more true for tables, lamps and accessories in general. All of these should be available on line and they should be priced to sell. It costs an average of $130.00 to get a customer in a furniture store and this is a way to lower your customer acquisition cost and at the same time pocket some cash.
To compete with the national shippers, you should consider an "Internet Only" page. A page dedicated to blow out awesome pricing say at 32%-35% margins to compete and become "Top of Mind" for shoppers....
I believe retailers MUST be transparent in today's wired world. I Google everything, restaurant reviews, cars, people, businesses anything and everything to gauge my perception of what I'm getting myself into. With that said, retailers are missing out on a huge opportunity to pad their check books.
So many ideas and so little space...plus I type with 2 fingers....