The first quarter of 2016 included numerous announcements affecting the home furniture industry. Of those shared in the news, the following are worth knowing.
In March, Furniture Today released a summation of five retail trends impacting the industry. Key topics included the use of virtual reality to help consumers visualize what a product looks like in their space, loyalty programs with instant rewards, environmentally-friendly recycling programs for furniture that will be leveraged to raise money for the community, and informational programs teaching people about lifestyle subjects.
The latter concentrates on enhancing home stores’ offerings to include classes that not only feature products, but showcase how they can be incorporated into customers’ lives. For example, a store looking to sell a specific line of multifunctional furniture could teach a class on small-space living.
Rental services also peaked at the number one spot among key retail trends. In fact, the Furniture Today article alluded to 15 percent of shoppers being interested in renting furniture from their home store of preference, spending $500 a month on furnishings. The amount of people interested in renting did not mean those individuals were without the means to afford purchasing furniture. Rather, those surveyed preferred to rent and use items that matched their lifestyle and needs.
Television personality and cook Rachael Ray joined the furnishing industry with the creation of her home collection of case goods and upholstery. Dubbed the Rachael Ray Home Collection, the line is set to debut at High Point’s spring market in April. It is comprised of three collections, Upstate, Soho, and Highline.
The latter features soft grays and charcoals, while Soho’s finishes are gray taupe. Upstate is more traditional and represents Americana style with a waxed patina look. Bedroom and dining furniture are included in the collections as well as office and entryway pieces. Following the launch, the designer looks to expand her home furnishings line to include wall art, lighting, floor coverings, and decorative accessories.
The same market will also unveil Trisha Yearwood’s home accessory line. The collection’s announcement was made by IMAX Worldwide Home in March. The country singer and lifestyle expert has designed a line of wall decor, lamps, trays, and vases, among other products that capture her brand of comfortable and chic southern style. Ms. Yearwood stated in an article published by Furniture World that her collection helps people “make a house a home” by creating “a comfortable environment to share with family and friends.”
In February, vice president of design for DXV by American Standard spoke to industry professionals at the Bienenstock Furniture Library regarding three-dimensional (3D) printing. The technology, which has been employed to build human organs and aerospace parts, will also shape the future of the home furnishing sector.
In his presentation, he made it clear that comprehension of design, engineering, materials, and human ergonomics is still essential when constructing a piece of furniture. The use of 3D printing, however, can expedite the processes for prototyping and creating scale models.
Scale models will also make it possible for manufacturers produce parts that accurately fit final products, thus reducing material waste. For designs that cannot be made from molds, 3D printing allows manufacturers to test new ideas for shapes and structures that would be improbable using conventional methods.
The April High Point market will host a series of design and trend-focused courses in the Suites at Market Square Seminar Room (SAMS 1-1014). The programming, made possible by International Market Centers, includes design courses concentrating on different mediums and popular styles on the horizon, outdoor styling, and brand and business development. Notable designers ranging from Thom Filicia to Eddie Ross will be present to educate attendees.
Additionally, Nancy Fire, Farah Merhi, Bobby Berk, and Kim Radovich will head Suite Spot Tours. To help attendees relax, complimentary manicures and cocktails will be provided in The Market Designer Lounge & Spa, courtesy of Country Living and Southern Living Magazine. Dependent on the course, continuing education units (CEUs) may be available
For the benefit of customers seeking specific products that are not carried in-store, integrating special order processing into business operations is crucial. Furniture World Magazine garnered advice from Storis, a leader in retail software solutions and services to big ticket retailers, to educate its audience on three essential components of special order processing in a February article. The piece focused on three methods: true special ordering, “on the fly” stock keeping unit (SKU) creation, and special order configuration.
True special ordering involves making changes to a product with an existing SKU in an inventory. An ideal software gives a salesperson the ability to select different elements, such as finishes and hardware, at the point of sale. To ensure a store is capable of delivering the custom piece, all selections are made through prompts already coded in the program. In addition, providing space for notes gives users the ability to document specific instructions.
“On the fly” SKU creation focuses on making a new SKU during the order entry process. The SKU does not already exist, but is created specially for a custom piece. Special order configuration applies to complex orders that take into account all design options. Using drop-down menus that state pricing, rules, and other factors impacting the creation and delivery of a piece, special order configuration software caters to consumers who want to work with commissioned designers and have the most flexibility in their design choices. The tool calculates all costs to give an accurate selling price and offers precise details regarding delivery, thus ensuring customers’ expectations are realistic.