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LuxeYard raises question of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar crossroads

Along with the ruling powers-that-be in the Middle East, Facebook's earnings potential and views on high-fructose corn syrup, home furnishings retail is in a state of flux. The advent of e-commerce has left some in the industry up-in-arms while buoying the bank accounts of others.

Early flash sales sites featured rudimentary layouts and often carried the reputation as being no more than virtual trash chutes, avenues through which manufacturers could dump excess inventory and recover some of their losses. Officially launched January 24, LuxeYard represents what many flash sales sites have become or hope to be: A technologically sophisticated retail channel that leverages lower up-front costs with the interconnectivity of social media to target and sell to a niche audience.

Through its Concierge Buying and Group Buy features, LuxeYard shifts product pricing and sourcing power from retailers to consumers by allowing consumers to influence featured products and final prices.

Indicators would suggest LuxeYard, which bills itself as a boutique luxury flash sale site, is doing quite well. The company continues to diversify its product category offerings beyond home furnishings, and it recently expanded to Australia, New Zealand and India through what Richter calls "syndicated" sites. On June 14, the company announced its sponsorship of southern California nonprofit It's All About the Kids and that it will host a Summer of Style Kickoff Party to benefit the group June 19 at the company's Los Angeles showroom.

So what's the point of my rambling?

I watched this interview with Richter (above), and I felt he posed an interesting point: Traditional brick-and-mortar retail people need e-commerce, and e-commerce needs traditional retail people.

Richter highlights the importance of customer service - the sort that only tried-and-true retail people can deliver - but it's more than that. It's a level of personal engagement that builds relationships and keeps customers coming back. LuxeYard is trying to replicate that with its social media inspired features and its new giving back initiative on top of its competitive prices, but can it be done?

Likewise, regardless of level of community engagement, the privately-owned mom-and-pop type retailers can't compete by hiding in a bubble pretending the Internet in all its glory and gore doesn't affect them. To what extent do these shops go digital to combat the ever-growing horde of flash sales sites offering the same or similar products at reduced prices?

Tell us what you think the future holds for home furnishings retail in the comments section below. How do e-commerce and brick-and-mortar balance?

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