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Will Major Appliances Ever Be Purchased Online?

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Reading the latest issue of Consumer Electronics publication TWICE I came across their list of the top 100 Major Appliance Retailers and was struck by how there are no online companies on the list.

There are companies that have a significant online presence, of course, like Sears, but I think it’s safe to say that unlike consumer electronics purchasing habits, major appliances (the industry calls the category "majapp", by the way) are still purchased based on in-store discussions with salespeople and hands-on experience.

The list of top Majapp retailers:

  1. Sears, with $8.3 billion in major appliance sales in 2007 (a drop of 7.3% from their 2006 sales)
  2. Lowe’s, with $4.3 billion in majapp sales (an increase of 3.1% over their 2006 sales)
  3. Home Depot, with $3.8 billion in sales (an increase in 2.3% from 2006 sales)
  4. Best Buy, with $1.9 billion in sales (an impressive increase of 8.3% over 2006 sales. Best Buy is really becoming a powerhouse in both majapp and consumer electronics sales!)
  5. Wal*Mart, with $713 million in sales (an increase of 5.1% over 2006)
  6. P.C. Richard & Son, with $602 million in sales (a drop of 4.1% from 2006 sales)
  7. hhgregg, with $486 million in sales (a staggering increase of 36.6% over 2006 sales)
  8. BrandsMart, with $269 million in sales (a decrease of 2.7% from 2006 sales)
  9. Conn’s, with $224 million in sales (a 3.0% decrease over 2006 sales)
  10. Costco Wholesale, with $211 million in sales (an increase of 0.9% over 2006 sales figures)

The rest of the top 25? Pacific Sales Kitchen & Bath Centers, Target, ABC Warehouse, ABT Electronics and Appliances, Menards, Sam’s Club, EXPO Design CEnter, R.C. Willey Home Furnishings, American TV & Appliances, Nebraska Furniture Mart, The Great Indoors, Appliance Direct, Kmart, Fry’s Electronics and Grants Appliance.

Somehow, in 2008 I expect to see some sort of company like "Appliances Online" or even Amazon show up on the top 25 list (after all, Grants Appliance is on the list with only $77 million in annual major appliance sales)…

Is it possible that major appliances will always be purchased primarily through a physical storefront, perhaps simply due to the complexity of delivery and installation? What do you think?

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