Month: September 2016

9 of the Most Popular Interior Trends Declared by Architects and Designers

From three-dimensional (3D) printing to minimalism, these interior design trends are setting the tone in 2016, according to architects and interior designers

Minimalism

minimalism

For a more refined, sleek space, consider limiting the number of items you have in your home. A minimalist approach allows you to express personal style with the items you enjoy most. For instance, your kitchen can still feel personal and unique even if it isn’t cluttered with artwork, objects, and furniture. A minimalist approach strips a room, leaving the essentials, and plays up a few pieces, like bar stools, with color, texture, or some other notable feature. Keep in mind that a single pop of color in an otherwise plain room can still achieve a fun look.

Individuality

Though many people style their homes using a single specific era or style, modern designers understand the value in mixing. In a recent article, Elissa Cullman of Cullman & Kravis Inc. told Architectural Digest that she hopes more people open themselves up to eclectic interiors that combine a variety of styles. That means choosing home furnishings you truly love, no matter the style, and finding a way to make them work together in a space. Cullman says there is no magical formula for putting elements from different eras and styles together. She only recommends you shop with quality and detail in mind, choosing what speaks to you and your personal interests.

Customization

For a truly individual look, customizing a piece of furniture or décor is a good way to translate more of your interests and personality into your home. For example, there are services that digitally print fabrics with images and patterns of your choice. Others can customize a lampshade to your specifications. These services are the perfect resource for making a house feel like home.

3D Printing

3d printerAmong the most exciting innovations shaping the future of the home furnishings industry is 3D printing. Chairs, side tables, lamps, and cabinets can all be built utilizing this new technology. In addition, many pieces manufactured through 3D printing are made of recycled materials, such as plastic, which means that when you invest in a 3D-printed piece, you’re making a more sustainable choice.

Neutrals

Bold colors saturated the interior design industry until recently. In 2016, however, neutral tones have taken center stage. Learn to appreciate colors like eggshell, cream, ivory, and bone to stay on trend. If you feel these are too plain, try mixing varying ranges of neutral colors, such as deep beiges with bright whites. The contrast from dark to light will boost your room’s appeal while still providing that calm versatility that neutrals offer. You can also integrate a pop of color. A high-impact hue, used sparingly in the form of a chair or other accent, can add character.

Nested Objects

Nested furniture is a trend that Rafael de Cardenas of Rafael de Cardenas Ltd. is seeing, as he noted to Architectural Digest. Nesting tables are perhaps the most familiar example of this trend. A set of nesting tables is constructed with a similar shape, but each table is made smaller than the next, so they can all be stored underneath the largest one. This feature gives you the option to expand the tables for more surface space to use, or store them nested within each other when not needed, thus saving room. Nested furniture also includes larger pieces, like dining or office tables with matching chairs that fit neatly underneath. The products are designed like a puzzle, so you can push the chairs flush into the table.

Modern and Tradition

dining roomInstead of creating a room that only showcases modern home furnishings, try mixing in some older, more traditional pieces. This year, furniture that exudes tradition is finding its way into homes, where people are mixing it with more contemporary and current styles. If this trend interests you, look for chairs covered in distressed brown leathers, antique buffets, and classically designed tables. The key is creating a room that conveys a sense of tradition, but does not seem fussy or ornate. Such a room also has to work for modern lifestyles.

Patterned Textiles

Many designers expressed their love for all things neutral and subtle in 2016, but others appreciate the color and vitality that prints and patterns bring to a room. In the same Architectural Digest interview mentioned above, Madeline Stuart of Madeline Stuart & Associates remarked that she enjoys the trend of patterned fabrics and prints, saying that the solid trend has gone on far too long.

Fireplaces

While people once ignored their fireplace, more and more home owners are making it the central point of their living room. Especially in fall and winter, a fireplace offers a warm, rustic place where family and friends can gather around. Moreover, new gas fireplaces offer a more eco-friendly, clean-burning option than wood fireplaces. Gas fireplaces are also the perfect choice if you don’t want the hassle of purchasing wood or having to start a fire with kindling—many turn on with the touch of a button.

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The Best Overview of the 2016 First Look Catalogue

Las Vegas Market logoThe Las Vegas Market remains one of the most popular events for discovering new trends in the home furnishings industry. However, the event can be a bit overwhelming for first-time attendees. Fortunately, the market releases a First Look catalogue prior to the event to help professionals plan their experience and afford them a chance to see items that will likely be popular with consumers.

The following are some of the trending home furniture styles showcased in the 2016 First Look catalogue:

Comfort

From straight-edged to king-sized and curvy, home furnishings making an impact in the most recent market catered to personal comfort. Among pieces winning the attention of design professionals was a tailored sectional by Pinnacle Seating Studio. The M10 boasts clean lines and features a variety of modular pieces that enable owners to personalize the sectional to fit specific spaces. For added comfort, there is even a power reclining seat available.

Homeowners can achieve a more rugged look with a sofa set from More Comfort Living’s Plush Edge Collection. Enrobed in dark, distressed leather, the seating is overfilled with stuffing, which creates slight bulging on the sides and in the cushions.

Black and White

black and white furnitureAn abundance of black-and-white home furnishings and accessories were displayed prominently throughout the Las Vegas Market. Among accessories making the cut in the market’s First Look catalogue were the Phillips Collection’s spoke mirror featuring charred black wood sticks, Nakasa’s luxury marble vases, and Currey & Company’s Zanzibar iron-and-mirror chandelier.

Larger black-and-white home furnishings included Planum Furniture’s Belvedere couch and Worlds Away’s oak cabinet, which features a ceruse finish that accentuates the light and dark wood grains and unique antique brass hardware in the center of each of its three doors. The Belvedere couch pays tribute to the beauty of white leather and comes in several sizes. While the white leather fits perfectly with the theme of black and white, the sofa also comes in more than 100 other varieties of leather.

Metallic Finishes

Supporting the on-trend color combination of black and white is the integration of metallic finishes. Interior professionals agree that the pairing of black and white with metallic accents creates a sense of warmth. A good example of this style is CH Living – Castle Home’s Garden sofa. The couch is covered in a textured white material and sits on acrylic legs. It is displayed behind a mirrored coffee table that sits atop curved brass legs.

The Avery chair by TOV Furniture offers the same warmth and sense of glamour. Available in leather or velvet, the chair stays elegantly simple in a white tone with a glossy gold finish on the base.

Family Focused

Only one company earned a spotlight in the latest First Look catalogue for a more family-focused solution. Magnussen Home’s Keswick dining collection is finished in weathered barley and contains a dining table, chairs, a bench, and a buffet with glass doors to display beautiful collections of serving pieces. The finish is what makes the collection so family-friendly. It can conceal wear that naturally occurs over time and remains attractive even following the occasional mishaps that happen when children are around.

Outdoor Living

During this year’s market, participation in the outdoor living category was the largest in history. So large in fact, that the market dedicated a special “Backyard Bash,” to highlight patio furnitureall the products. Only a few were chosen for the catalogue however. These included Summer Classics Sierra lounge collection, Panama Jack Outdoor’s Graphite Collection, and Poly-Wood’s Modern Trio seating.

In terms of accessorizing the outdoors, the Balad LED lights by Tristan Lohner were popular. These wireless lights come in two sizes, and buyers can choose between six color options for the lamp base. Flat-weave outdoor area rugs by KAS Rugs and a stylish bottle carrier by Mona B. also made the catalogue.

Fun Upholstery

Switching up colors is a simple way to add a little whimsy to a room. The best way to make a statement without going overboard involves adding a colorful chair. The First Look catalogue drew attention to the Aria sofa from the Mod Life Collection, which brings new life to a classic Chesterfield couch by covering it in a velvet fabric called “gecko.” The tufting of the sofa creates more depth in the hue. The New Pacific Direct Clara chair was another standout piece. Wrapped in a subtler tone of “loyal blue” velvet, the armchair features vertical channel tufts. A bolder statement can be found in Cyan Design’s ‘T’ chair, which features a two-tone look that utilizes popular shades of blue.

shipping containers

Everything You Need to Know about Reverse Supply Chains

The home furnishings sector is a multibillion-dollar industry that has grown exponentially over the years. Previously, people had to shop for their next couch or dining table in brick-and-mortar stores. Today, many people purchase these items online, and this has resulted in increased sales. However, with every additional item sold online, the potential for a return also jumps higher. Known as reverse supply chains, returns are costly and create a negative impact on the natural world.

Read on to learn more about how returns are affecting the furniture industry and the environment.

How much waste does a reverse supply chain produce?

rubbish-143465_1280According to the Environmental Capital Group, retail returns contribute 2 million tons of waste to landfills annually. This number will continue rising as furniture retailers focus more on targeting omnichannel shoppers—consumers who utilize a variety of means to purchase goods. Omnichannel shoppers not only visit brick-and-mortar stores to shop for products, they also research and make purchases online. A large factor in the spike in online sales is the offer of free shipping. Some retailers also boast free returns. These types of perks, which appeal to millennials and Generation Xers, who online shop the most, are expected to grow e-commerce sales by nearly 16 percent in 2016. This will inevitably increase the number of returns and thus add to the amount of waste in landfills.

Why are so many home furnishings ending up in landfills?

Despite understanding the need to update their marketing and sales approaches to include an online component that reaches younger consumers, furniture retailers have yet to modernize their processes regarding returns. A senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Transportation and Logistics states that the outdated approach is costing retailers significantly, and the industry as a whole is trying to quickly establish solutions. Unfortunately, online sales continue to grow, and consumers are returning more items daily. These items then go through the traditional process of being piled into a warehouse of unwanted goods, where they remain for an extended period of time before being resold or refurbished, recycled for parts, or sent to landfills.

How many returns do retailers receive?

According to a National Retail Federation survey, furniture retailers saw 8.6 percent of sales result in returns in 2013. The following year, returns jumped to 8.89 percent—an industry revenue loss of $280 billion. As more consumers engage in online shopping, the number of returns will continue to rise.

What does this cost retailers?

costs

Overall, returns can cost retailers between 10 and 20 percent of their profits. These expenses are a combination of the time spent processing returned goods and losing valuable warehouse space to accommodate returned items. The square footage occupied by returned pieces, whether companies use it efficiently or not, reduces the space available to house new products that can generate sales. The unpredictable nature of the furniture market also adds costs because retailers are unable to plan for the number of returns they receive. This challenge makes it difficult to create a process that is sustainable and that limits the transportation of home furnishings to landfills.

Can improving customer service reduce waste and save money?

Yes. Knowing what a customer wants helps retailers sell the product that best fits the customer’s needs, thus reducing the likelihood that the buyer will return it. As such, retailers should implement strategies that help consumers communicate their furniture preferences as well as how they intend to use their intended purchase. For example, stores can draft questions for sales representatives to ask customers as they peruse a showroom.

Online retailers, however, may need to go the extra mile and integrate new technology, such as an online chat program, to ask the same questions. After receiving feedback, the support team member can offer the customer instant recommendations to gauge the consumer’s interest. Based on the customer’s response, the employee can then formulate alternate suggestions. With every response a customer gives, support personnel can tweak their suggestions to better meet the consumer’s requirements. As a result of this process, the store is much more likely to sell a product that meets all of the customer’s needs and thus reduce the likelihood of a return.

Are there other ways to handle returns?

No matter how well a retailer handles product sales, returns are inevitable, and too often these items end up in landfills. To combat growing landfill waste, companies must come up with a process that addresses returns immediately, thus freeing up valuable warehouse space. The best way to do this is with software that can intuitively suggest what to do with a returned item. Suggested solutions should include the option for reselling if a product has the potential to generate revenue. If the company cannot resell the item at a profit, the software should recommend what parts the company can strip from it to sell, recycle, or donate.

caution sign

9 of the Most Important Takeaways from the Toxic Substances Control Act and Title VI

In August 2016, Furniture Today published an article on the final rules of Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The regulation is overseen by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the final act addresses formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products. Read on to gain a better understanding of what the act intends to accomplish as well as insights on the latest addition.

  1. What is the Toxic Substances Control Act?

laboratoryAlso known as TSCA, the law makes it permissible for the EPA to enforce rules governing the use, production, transportation, and disposal of specific chemicals. The EPA can require all organizations handling toxic substances to keep thorough documentation of their use and testing procedures. Depending on the situation, the agency can also place restrictions on its use.

  1. What does the act include?

The act contains six titles. The first five address control of toxic substances, asbestos hazard emergency response, indoor radon abatement, lead exposure reduction, and healthy high-performance schools. Title VI, most recently amended, focuses on formaldehyde standards for composite wood products.

  1. Is the EPA the sole governing authority?

While the agency serves as the main regulator of the act, the EPA may give states the right to oversee their own enforcement of the law, with some limitations. Permitted states can develop accreditation and certification programs that fulfill some parts of the statute. The programs must reduce risk and safeguard the standards set forth by the TSCA. The same courtesy is extended to tribes. However, the act does not explicitly state tribe eligibility in developing and implementing statute programs.

  1. Which chemicals are impacted?

Title I restricts the sale, transfer, and distribution of mercury. Title II impacts asbestos and discusses remediation programs. Title III limits indoor radon levels to a quantity that cannot exceed outdoor ambient levels. Title IV requires all homes to be void of lead-based paints. Lead is also a part of Title V, which helps schools integrate environmental health programs to combat lead use. Title VI restricts the amount of formaldehyde used in hardwood plywood, particle board, and medium-density fiberboards. While not specific to a title, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are also banned from commerce use and distribution under the TSCA.

  1. How does Title VI impact the home furnishing industry?

composite chairsTitle VI will impact companies that produce finished goods stateside as well as those receiving imports. It requires documentation of the types of resins used in the creation of items. Based on the type, urea-formaldehyde (UF), no-added-formaldehyde (NAF), or phenol-formaldehyde (PF) resin, a company may be exempt from testing and certification processes.

  1. Who was involved in the creation of the final rule?

The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AFHA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) played vital roles in solidifying Title VI. CARB partnered with the EPA to establish initial formaldehyde emissions requirements for composite wood products. AFHA advocated on behalf of its industry, educating EPA policymakers on how the regulation would affect fabricators and importers. Ultimately, the initially proposed law would halt furniture production for potentially unnecessary testing, and the delay would be detrimental to the sector. With the help of the alliance, the EPA was able to specify which resins truly required testing to reduce emissions.

  1. How many phases are covered in the final rule?

The TSCA involves two phases, the first of which includes four components. The first component excuses home furnishings manufacturers and importers if their laminated products are comprised of curved plywood, PS-1 and PS-2 structural plywood, synthetic face veneers, and oriented strand board. Those made with medium-density fiberboard or particle board that are then covered with laminated material require adherence to emissions rules one year from the date the title is enforced. The final two factors of the initial phase cover proper labeling and import certification.

The second phase does not go into effect until seven years after the title’s publication date. Companies utilizing NAF or PF resins to create products will remain exempt from testing and certification processes. Use of UF resins following the seven-year deadline will make it mandatory for a company to undergo testing and certification to ensure emissions are within a limit deemed reasonable by the EPA.

  1. What do industry professional anticipate will happen?

According to the vice president of regulatory affairs for the AHFA, fabricators will likely move away from using UF resins to avoid the need for testing and certification. As a result, a growth in products laminated with NAF and PF resins is expected.

  1. What should be expected moving forward?

Aside from the deadlines outlined in phases one and two, the law will be continuously reviewed by the AHFA to guarantee its stipulations are reasonable and do not negatively impact the sector. Industry professionals can expect assistance from the alliance in the form of an importer guide and compliance toolbox. A workshop, which will include EPA professionals, is slated for the future. Use of resources will give professionals a clear understanding of expectations so they can plan accordingly.

high point market

Everything You Need to Know about the Fall High Point Market

The planning for this fall’s High Point Market is well underway. The event offers a first look at emerging trends in home furnishings and gives you an opportunity to network with industry professionals. To make sure you plan for the best experience, here are some facts you should know:

When and where will the market take place?

Located in downtown High Point, North Carolina, the show runs from October 22–26, 2016, and remains open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (with the exception of Wednesday, when the showrooms close at 5 p.m.). Park & Rides are located at Oak Hollow Mall and Market Center Drive Area, from which free shuttles transport you to the downtown district.

Who attends the event?

trade showApproximately 75,000 trade professionals from around the world join the market, which is comprised of more than 2,000 vendors who debut tens of thousands of new products. Attendees come prepared to invest in home furnishings to outfit their retail locations, and they can also expect to learn about new trends and market-exclusive products.

How big is the market?

The market spans 180 buildings. In total, 11.5 million square feet is dedicated to show space.

Can I purchase items?

While many vendors require you to order products of interest, there is a small population of companies that will part with samples on-site. They typically display and tear down their showrooms twice a year. You will have better luck purchasing items at the show from vendors located in the Showplace, IHFC Interhall, and Suites at Market Square. Inquire about purchasing and be prepared to take home your items on the last day of the show. Keep your bill of sale handy just in case someone requires proof of payment at the exit.

What tool can I use to navigate the event?

High Point Market offers the MyMarket app, which is available through the Apple App Store (search “HPMKT”). The tool includes the names of all vendors in attendance. You can also select various criteria to filter out vendors based on price point, product, and style. Once you decide on which vendors to visit, you will be given an option for directions. The navigation feature shows you the most efficient way to find the vendor from your current location. You can also use the app to stay up to date on events for networking, learning, and socializing.

How do I handle inclement weather?

If rain should strike, reduce your time walking from building to building by using the secret passageway next to the Interhall Cafe in the IHFC Commerce Wing. Known to few attendees, the path provides awnings along the way. You will only need an umbrella to cross Main Street to the Furniture Plaza. From there, head up the escalators and follow the signs to the Commerce and Design, Market Square, and 220 Elm buildings.

What restrictions should I expect?

cameraDepending on the exhibitor, you may or may not be able to take photos. Before snapping a picture, be sure to always ask about each vendor’s photography rules and ensure you have permission. Furthermore, the market does not allow the public to attend. Only trade professionals may partake in the event, and each attendee must acquire a market pass to enter. You can get a market pass by preregistering or showing up at designated locations, such as 220 Elm and the International Buyers Center, to register on-site. If you are attending as an associate of a media company, head to the second floor of the High Point Theater to complete the press registration.

Where can I host meetings?

If you need to meet with colleagues, the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library is available for reservations. While only a few know of the rooms as a meeting place, conveniently equipped with essentials such as computer monitors and audiovisual tools, reservations do fill up quickly. Be sure to plan ahead to book a space. A reservation also gives you access to the catering kitchen. The fee for using a room is a tax-deductible donation to the library.

How can I reach someone if I have more questions?

You may visit 164 South Main Street, Suite 700, High Point, North Carolina 27260 to speak with a representative of the High Point Market Authority. They are available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you prefer calling, the toll-free number is (800) 874-6492. All other contact information can be located at www.highpointmarket.org.

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10 of the Most Helpful Facts about the Furniture Today Leadership Conference

Furniture Today Leadership ConferenceOne the best educational events to attend in 2016 is the Furniture Today Leadership Conference, occurring at the end of the year. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the forum.

What is the Furniture Today Leadership Conference?

An annual event, the Furniture Today Leadership Conference gives visitors the opportunity to hone their business knowledge by learning from and networking with influential members of the home furnishings industry. The conference includes a powerhouse panel of speakers discussing a range of topics, from business development to industry issues.

When and where does the event occur?

This year’s event kicks off on Tuesday, November 29, at 4:30 p.m. EST and ends Thursday, December 1, at 11 a.m. EST. It will take place at the Four Seasons Orlando Resort at 10100 Dream Tree Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32836. The venue may be contacted at (407) 313-7777.

Who can benefit from the conference?

The event was made for professionals on both the retail and manufacturing side of the furniture sector.

What will I learn?

Bill McLoughlin

Bill McLoughlin | Image from Twitter

The theme for 2016 is “The Transformation Imperative: Leading Change in a Volatile Marketplace,” with the evolution of the home furnishings industry as the main focus. The educational component starts on November 30 and continues through December 1. It begins with a welcome from Bill McLoughlin of Furniture Today, followed by a keynote address by real estate consultant John Burns, who will share insights on how the real estate market will influence the future of home furnishings. From that point, participants will join other professionals in breakout sessions that cover a variety of topics. Subject matters include culture change, sales technology, workplace growth, and design processes. The conference concludes with “Generational Transformation: What is the Future of Home Furnishings?” in the Grand Ballroom. During the session, visitors gain insight about the next generation of industry leaders.

Will I have time to network?

Yes. Furniture Today and Progressive Business Media have dedicated times for business networking and socialization. In terms of the latter, attendees can start their conference experience with the golf scramble, held on the greens at Tranquilo Golf Club. The event is optional but serves as an opportune time to get to know other professionals prior to the start of the conference. The retail store tour, breakfast, and dinners are other chances to socialize, and participants will also have free time on Wednesday from 4:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

For building and fostering business relationships, attendees can take part in the networking cocktail reception on the first and second days as well as the designated networking breaks. There are two breaks planned on Wednesday and one on Thursday, all of which occur in the Grand Ballroom Foyer. The cocktail receptions, meanwhile, will be hosted on the King Meadow Lawn. The first cocktail hour, sponsored by Serta, will commence at 6:30 p.m. on the opening day. The second reception occurs at the same time, on Wednesday. It is made possible by Agio.

Which organizations support the event?

The event is sponsored by AICO/Amini Innovation, Corp., Surya, Genesis Credit, Agio, Blueport Commerce, MicroD Incorporated, and Ashley Furniture Industries, among others.

How do I stay updated on event happenings?

The team at Progressive Business Media reserved the hashtag #ftleadership for social media posts pertaining to the conference. The hashtag can also be used as a search function for related news and updates.

What fees should I expect?

Event runners recommend reserving a room at the host venue for easy navigation to and from the event. A special rate of $225 per night, plus taxes, remains valid through November. Be advised, the hotel requires a deposit equivalent to one night’s stay once the reservation is made.

Visitors flying in should expect a one-way taxi ride to cost approximately $50 to and from the venue. Another option is Mears Transportation, a shuttle service with a one-way fee of $23 and a round-trip fare of $37. The airport also offers car rentals, with parking available at the hotel at a reduced daily expense of $16.

Set aside funds for registration fees as well. Conference coordinators will open up registration in the near future, which will outline associated expenses.

Where can I find more information?

For more details about the event, including registration, visit http://www.leadershipcon.com.

Whom do I contact with questions?

For questions concerning the conference, Heather Thompson serves as the contact for the Furniture Today Leadership Conference. The senior manager of conferences and events at Progressive Business Media in Greensboro, North Carolina, she can be reached at hthompson@pmbbrands.com or (336) 605-1061.

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The Most Interesting Furniture News of the Second Half of 2016

As the $96 billion home furnishing industry grows year over year, it is important to stay on top of news influencing its success. The following items were among the most important announcements made at the beginning of 2016’s second half.

Ashley Furniture Announces Its Outdoor Collection

ashley furniture logoAshley Furniture released a statement to Furniture Today detailing plans to launch an outdoor collection in 2016, following several years of research. The company’s Outdoor by Ashley line was unveiled during the Las Vegas Summer Market, giving industry professionals a first look at its 15 room settings highlighting the company’s ability to offer stylish, affordable furniture. The collection itself was led by Andy Sokol, an industry expert of 33 years now serving as the brand’s vice president of merchandising for outdoor furniture. Under his guidance, Ashley Furniture created outdoor seating, dining sets, umbrellas, and fire pit chat sets.

The United States Department of Transportation Grants Millions

Recently, the Georgia Ports Authority received $44 million in grant funding through the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation grant, overseen by the US Department of Transportation, will go toward expanding the inland Port of Savannah, thus improving rail capacity and reducing highway congestion. The project, known as the Port of Savannah International Multi-Modal Connector, is expected to span five years. The overall budget, including the $44 million, totals $128 million. In addition to shifting more transportation of containers from trucks to rail, the International Multi-Modal Connector will attract more business for the state’s ports.

Sales Almost Rebound after Three Months

According to an article published by Furniture Today, the home furnishings industry struggled to obtain new orders between February and April of this year. Orders fell each month, with April recording the most since 2015, at 3 percent. While May did not indicate a phenomenal recovery, the 2 percent increase, recorded by Smith Leonard in its Monthly Furniture Insights Report, does place the market back in line with orders from the year prior. The number represents all respondents to the survey. Individually, 69 percent of respondents reported a decline in orders.

Synchrony Financial Continues Its Partnership

dining roomIn 2011, Synchrony Financial worked with Ashley HomeStores to develop a financing program that has since become a successful resource for boosting sales and revenue for the enterprise. The Ashley Advantage Credit Card offers special financing options that make it possible for consumers to purchase home furnishings and bedding, according to the executive vice president and chief executive officer of the financial organization. In fact, the statement is supported through the Synchrony Financial 2015 Major Purchase Consumer Study, which researched the reasons and ability for buyers to buy large items. The study concluded that nearly half of individuals made a purchase because financing was an option. The primary reason correlated to affordability. Having experienced success with the credit card, Synchrony Financial has agreed to extend its consumer financing program agreement with Ashley HomeStores. The multi-year extension will impact more than 480 stores in the United States.

A New Trade Show Selects Its Advisory Council

Set to debut June 7, 2017, the Home Furnishings Manufacturing Solutions Expo will highlight warehousing and manufacturing resources as well as logistical and technology services catering to home furnishings manufacturers, a niche that has not been filled as of yet. To aid in hosting a successful inaugural event, Progressive Business Media and the Exposition Development Company, Inc. has enlisted the expertise of industry professionals to make up its advisory council. Companies in the group include representatives from Best Home, American Home Furnishings Alliance, and the California Furniture Manufacturers Association. The council will shape content shared throughout the event, from the topics discussed to the speakers hosting breakout sessions.

China Remains a Leading Supplier

Despite headlines stating China is struggling from labor shortages and factory closures, the country stays ahead in the home furnishings industry. Furniture Today shared the news in July, highlighting the country’s 38 percent growth in overall furniture shipment. To the United States alone, China transported $13.7 billion in residential furnishings in 2015 and shipped more than half of wholesale furniture stateside. The reason for the success stems from the country’s role as home of one of the largest upholstery manufacturers in the world, Man Wah, and case goods conglomerate Lacquer Craft. Man Wah exports approximately 4,500 containers of goods at a single time. Lacquer Craft produces upwards of 500 containers monthly, which go to stores such as City Furniture, Costco, Sam’s Club, and Art Van.

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What You Need to Know about the HFN Total Home OmniChannel Summit

OmniChannel Summit LogoAmong conferences worth attending in 2016 is the Home Furnishings News (HFN) Total Home OmniChannel Summit. The event will cover a range of topics related to omnichannel shopping and digital commerce. Learn what to expect from the event and how you can participate below.

When and where does the conference take place?

The HFN Total Home OmniChannel Summit kicks off on Tuesday, November 1st and ends on Thursday, November 3rd. The three-day event takes place at The Whitehall Hotel at 1700 Smith Street in Houston, Texas.

Who benefits from the event?

Professionals who want to improve their company’s omnichannel shopping experience should attend the conference. Specifically, professionals in the home furnishings industry and those who provide technical services to the industry will benefit. Likewise, research companies, financial firms, and retail strategy consultants will gain valuable information.

What will I learn?

A variety of speakers and presentations are on the agenda to engage participants in discussions about supply chain integration, online marketplaces, omnichannel enhancements, and specific technologies. There will also be a session dedicated to virtual and augmented reality. Led by experts from Marxent and Loft & roOomy, the session takes place on the second day and analyzes the impact of digital retailing on brick-and-mortar retailers. Attendees will learn how virtual and augmented reality can benefit or negatively affect physical retailers.

Other sessions to consider attending include “Furniture Ecommerce Benchmark Study” and “Creating and Measuring Impactful Home Digital Marketing Campaigns.” The former presents a research study conducted by Blueport Commerce to provide insights on how to compete with companies that focus solely on ecommerce. “Creating and Measuring Impactful Home Digital Marketing Campaigns” is intended to help retailers stay competitive in the industry. Presenters will shares tools and resources crucial for developing targeted digital marketing programs that grow a customer base.

Upon completion of the conference, attendees will walk away with a better understanding of how mobile apps engage consumers, how vendor direct and drop shipping programs work, and how online fulfillment expenditures can be reduced.

Who will give the keynote address?

Antony Karabus, an expert in increasing retail profitability, will give the keynote speech, following opening remarks on the first day. Chief executive officer of the firm HRC Advisory, he will address the challenges of digital commerce and competing against digital pure play enterprises like Amazon and Wayfair. He intends to provide actionable advice that can assist in developing and executing a successful digital home retailing plan.

Are there other speakers that may interest me?

Yes. Carl Prindle and Stacey Renfro are two of the event’s other featured speakers. Mr. Prindle is the president and CEO of Blueport Commerce, and Ms. Renfro heads the ecommerce division of Pier 1 Imports as senior vice president.

What networking opportunities are available?

On the first day, participants will get to meet other attendees at a networking cocktail reception in the Bayou Ballroom. The gathering starts at 5:30 p.m. and continues until 7 p.m. The following day, there will be two networking breaks in between the breakout sessions, as well as another cocktail reception. You may also utilize the lunch hour and the break at 4:30 p.m. to mingle and talk. On the final day, there are no specific networking events scheduled. However, breakfast would be a good time to chat and meet with new contacts.

How do I register?

Reserve your place at the summit by visiting omni.pbmconferences.com to register. If you are registering with a group, there is an option to add additional people to your registration.

What fees should I expect?

If you are attending as a retailer, a registration fee of $395 applies. As a supplier, manufacturer, or other industry professional, you must pay an $895 registration fee. In addition, you may invite one non-industry affiliated guest for a fee of $200. Your guest’s admission covers receptions only. Registration fees do not take into account hotel and transportation expenses. If you require a hotel, consider staying at the same location as the conference for ease. Until October 3rd, The Whitehall offers a special rate of $179 per night.

In terms of transportation, you may opt to use a taxi or shuttle service from the airport. Prices vary, but expect to pay about $47.50 for a one-way trip from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport and $25 from the William P. Hobby Airport. Renting a car at either airport is another option. Set aside $29 each day you intend to use the hotel’s valet parking services.

What if I have questions?

For hotel inquiries, call The Whitehall to speak to a representative. The hotel phone number is (713) 739-8800. Questions about the summit can be directed to Heather Thompson, senior manager of conferences and events at Progressive Business Media. You may contact her at (336) 605-1061 or hthompson@pbmbrands.com.

telecommute

The Most Important Things Telecommuters Want in Home Office Furniture

According to a survey conducted by Gallup in 2015, the percentage of American workers taking advantage of telecommuting has grown to 37 percent. Numbers from past surveys show that there has been a steady increase over the past 20 years, despite a slight decrease in 2008. Another survey published by Global Workplace Analytics, based on figures from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, indicated that 3.7 million Americans worked from home for at least half their regularly scheduled hours, as of 2014.

home officeOne of the reasons telecommuting has increased is due to the fact that half of US jobs now have the capacity to support remote work. This has two main benefits. First, people no longer have to spend so much of their time and money on commuting. Second, the furniture industry profits, because employees need home office furniture to create comfortable workspaces.

MarketResearch.com published a report estimating that the market for home office furniture will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 5.58% over the next few years. The number reflects sales worldwide and includes desks, office chairs, and filing cabinets, among other essentials. The same organization anticipates that consumers will search for furniture that serves multiple purposes, so when it is not in use, it becomes a functional household item.

To help you develop a strategy for selling home office furniture to this growing market, read on to find out what variables and features consumers value when creating a functional home workspace.

Flexibility

In a January 2016 interview with Retailer Now Magazine, the vice president of merchandising and design at Somerton Dwelling shared that millennials make up a large portion of the telecommuting population. Unlike other generations, they are less likely to own homes or rent apartments that offer a traditional home office space. Therefore, they prefer to have pieces that can be moved around and configured easily to create a workspace. For this reason, keeping an inventory of sofa tables that have dropdown drawers can be a good idea. The table can be used traditionally as an accent piece, and as a desk when accompanied with a chair. Another way to help consumers make impromptu workspaces is to sell modular furniture. Smaller in size, modular furniture is made to be rearranged, so it can serve as shelving, a desk, or any other home office piece.

Storage

storageHaving enough room to store items neatly away will always be a necessity. Based on the number of home office organization pins on Pinterest, it’s clear that consumers still seek the perfect solution. Help them find what they need by stocking your showroom with desks that feature ample drawers and enough surface space to house desk accessories.

A good way to demonstrate a piece of furniture’s storage potential is to stage it in a way that illustrates how it’s intended to be used. For example, a person who works at home as an artist will not only use the desk to sketch, but also as a place to store tools, such as paper and art materials. Open drawers and place these items within. If the desk comes with an embedded filing cabinet, stage it by adding filing folders and paper. Doing so effectively showcases storage features that a potential buyer may overlook.

Function

Telecommuters must stay connected at all times, which means they require home office furniture that keeps their devices charged and cords organized. A good way to ensure your products meet both needs is to stock furniture that has Universal Serial Bus (USB) and electrical power strips embedded in them, so users can charge multiple electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

As an added perk, give consumers the option to buy office furniture that features built-in Bluetooth speakers. People can use these not only to listen to music as they work, but also to communicate during meetings. Finally, a functional piece of office furniture requires one extra element: organization. Tangled cords can easily present a tripping hazard, so stock desks and other pieces that offer a place to keep cords separate and tucked away.

Size

Efficient use of space is a necessity as people of all generations are increasingly downsizing to smaller homes. Many consumers nowadays seek a more minimalist lifestyle and manageable home, rather than the sprawling “McMansions” of the past. The notion of “less is more” is the key to selling your products to these buyers. Figure out how you can give a telecommuter everything they need in a compact piece of furniture. For instance, offer desks that are slim and can be placed flush up against a wall. Corner desks are also great for tight spaces, as are desks with built-in shelving, roll-out or pull-out cabinets, and other space-saving features. This increases storage potential dramatically.