In terms of style, since 9/11 fixture and faucet manufacturers have been recreating designs from a time when this country was safe and peaceful, and life was less stressful, Dillon says. “They are bringing back Old World designs, such as clawfoot tubs and floor-mounted spouts.”
In 2006, a key trend in residential faucets was minimalism. Among the most popular faucet finishes are satin nickel, which remains strong, and oil-rubbed bronze, which has risen to the top, Dillon notes. Polished brass died a quick death, she adds.
“The dark satiny finishes are growing because they complement the popular stones and metals used in sinks for the kitchen and bath,” Dillon says.
Home Décor Products sells residential faucets and other products for the home exclusively on the Internet. The company was founded by a couple of people who had high-end decorative showrooms in Brooklyn. Today it operates 10 Web sites, including www.AbsoluteHome.com, a more “mass market” site offering everyday brands that can be found at Home Depot or Lowe’s but in a much deeper assortment, and www.HomeClick.com, which attracts a more high-end buyer with showroom-only brands. Visitors to the AbsoluteHome.com Web site also can access interactive training and installation videos.
“On both the HomeClick and AbsoluteHome Web sites, 80% of the residential faucets we sell are going directly to the end consumer,” Dillon notes. “The other 20% of those sales are to architects, designers and builders.”
For both sites, the buyers tend to be female, particularly with decorative faucets. The average sale on AbsoluteHome.com is in the $400 to $500 range, while at HomeClick.com, the average sale is $800 and higher.
While plumbing wholesalers may view Internet retailers such as Home Décor as competition, that is not correct, Dillon asserts.
“Across all 10 of our Web sites we draw 1.5 million visitors, and out of those, only 2.5% convert into a transaction at that moment during the visit,” she says. “They are coming to our sites because of the tremendous amount of information we provide on a broad selection of products. The consumers who visit our sites know what they want. They have seen the product in a high-end showroom or in a magazine. In many cases they print a page from our site and take it to their local distributor to make a purchase. We are an asset to the plumbing wholesaler.”
Michael Golden, president and CEO of Home Décor, views his company as more of an online marketer, Dillon notes.
“We hope to get incremental sales of products, but we are doing a phenomenal job of bringing brand awareness to the brands we carry nationwide,” Dillon says. “We are now selling advertising on our sites to manufacturers so they can launch a new product or finish.”
Parent company Home Décor is seven years old and operates a 270,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Edison, NJ.