Month: May 2017


3 of the Most Effective Tips for Marketing to Millennials

As the largest generation in the history of the United States, millennials are already having a significant impact on the economy. By 2020, the generation will make up an estimated 30 percent of US retail sales, spending some $1.4 trillion per year. As individuals born throughout the 1980s and 1990s transition into adulthood, establish their careers, and begin to build homes and families, their effect on several industries is poised to grow even larger.

millennialMillennials already buy more furniture than any other collective group, being responsible for 37 percent of total home furnishings sales in 2014. Their buying power has continued to increase significantly in recent years, and they now comprise the fastest-growing market segment in the furniture sector. Between the peak home-buying ages of 25 and 45, millennials are likely to ramp up their furniture-buying activities going forward.

It’s quite clear that millennials represent a huge business development opportunity for furniture companies. One of the most effective ways for brands to cater to this highly-influential generation is via marketing. To do so, they must become more in tune with millennial lifestyles, preferences, and styles.

  1. Consider Millennial Culture

By understanding the causes and values that are important to their millennial customers, companies can reach them on a more meaningful level that is likely to garner lasting loyalty and trust. Market researchers have observed that millennials tend to value individuality and, therefore, likely to seek out and enjoy personalized shopping experiences.

For this reason, furniture retailers should strive to make in-store experiences unique for customers, positioning their brick-and-mortar locations as resources for detailed product information, style advice, and a guided shopping experience. When possible, companies can also implement features such as personalized recommendation emails or online home design tools to offer mobile shoppers a more individualized experience.

Millennials also tend to be quite socially conscious. They are aware of what is going on in the world around them and frequently dedicate themselves to causes that seek to better it. For this reason, it benefits retailers to take advantage of cause marketing whenever possible.

By leveraging resources to support a humanitarian cause, a company can establish a kinship with consumers while demonstrating that it is a socially responsible organization. Research conducted by Cone Communications concluded that over half of millennials – specifically, 66 percent – are more likely to give their business to companies they perceive as socially responsible.

Corporate social responsibility initiatives are an excellent opportunity for organizations to inspire customer loyalty and strengthen their brand images. However, it is vital that companies are authentic in their social engagement efforts. Consumers are likely to pick up on philanthropic initiatives that are shallow and merely for show. As a result, it is important for brands to choose causes that are making a genuine impact, be consistent in their contributions, and make their activities known to consumers.

For example, Ashley Furniture’s A Hope to Dream initiative partners with communities and the NFL to ensure that local children have quality beds and bedding. The company’s Ashley for the Arts program brings approximately 30,000 people to Arcadia, Wisconsin, for a music and arts festival with plenty of local flavor.

  1. Leverage Technology to Your Advantage

Technology is firmly engrained in the millennial lifestyle. It has served as the foundation for many of their social experiences and continues to be an integral part of business, entertainment, and daily life. As such, millennials are well-versed in engaging with both individuals and organizations over the web. This means that businesses have a good chance of reaching them in the online spaces where they reside.

technologyIn many cases, online interactions are the preferred form of communications for these digital natives. One study by the Center for Generational Kinetics discovered that, if given the option, 40 percent of its millennials would choose to conduct customer service interactions completely online.

In addition to helping firms improve the efficiency of their customer service, taking full advantage of technology to market products and interact with consumers can help furniture companies provide a more modern and engaging customer experiences. Companies that maintain an active presence on social media platforms are inviting customers to engage with them in a familiar and easily accessible way while at the same time providing a visual introduction to their products.

When incorporating technology into their marketing strategies, furniture companies should carefully consider which social platforms to be active on based on their targeted demographics. This will help ensure that they are funneling resources only into the platforms frequented by their prospective customers. In order to track the success of their social media engagement strategies, it is also crucial that companies set up platforms to collect data on the results of their social media activity.

  1. Keep an Eye on Style Trends

As the millennial generation grows to comprise a greater and greater segment of the furniture-buying population, millennial tastes and preferences are beginning to influence aesthetic trends in the furniture sector. Historically, consumers have often associated complex and ornate furniture with elegance and quality. However, millennial shoppers are increasingly favoring simple and sleek styles. Clean lines and monochrome color palettes with minimal ornamentation allow millennials to display their individuality through their own unique accessories.

However, millennials do appear to favor complexity in one regard. When it comes to modular and multipurpose furniture, millennials are drawn to pieces that will allow them to save valuable square footage in their small living spaces and enjoy a great deal of functionality from a single product.

As technology is interwoven within the millennial lifestyle, brands are likely to have an easier time marketing pieces designed to accommodate common technologies. In addition, the social awareness of this generation has made sustainably sourced materials an incredibly powerful selling point.

las vegas sign

One of the Most Influential Furniture Markets Is Quickly Approaching

lasvegasmarketlogoIn April, registration officially opened for the Summer 2017 Las Vegas Market. For over a decade, the market has provided professionals from all corners of the home furnishings and décor sectors an exclusive look at the latest trends in home design while offering industry leaders a chance to showcase their latest products.

The next iteration of this biannual industry exhibition will be no exception. Set to take place from July 30 to August 3, 2017, the Summer Las Vegas Market is poised to be a can’t-miss event featuring an unprecedented array of attractions.

On the Rise

The recent Winter Las Vegas Market smashed attendance records, welcoming more buyers and exhibitors than any previous winter market. Held from January 22 to 26, the event filled an astounding 5 million square feet with showrooms and product exhibitions, adding 170,000 square feet of entirely new or expanded showroom space.

The winter 2017 event also marked the first time that the market displayed more than 4,000 brands and product lines. This record-breaking selection attracted interested buyers from all 50 states and 80 countries, leading to attendance increases in virtually every major product category.

As the weather warms, anticipation for the Summer 2017 Las Vegas market is on the rise. International Market Centers—the organizers behind the industry-leading High Point and Las Vegas markets—have already revealed a few details about its next trend-setting event.

What to Expect

This summer, the Las Vegas Market will once more feature over 4,000 product lines spanning a comprehensive selection of categories. The event will feature more buyer resources than ever before, with organizers projecting an influx of activity throughout the market’s gift and furniture displays. Specifically, organizers expect a wealth of new offerings in gift categories such as housewares and artisanal products, while the casual and outdoor furniture exhibitions are also primed for increased activity. In addition, the Summer 2017 Las Vegas Market will feature exhibitions from each of the top-15 bedding manufacturers.

To accommodate its ever-expanding number of exhibitor partners, the Las Vegas Market is adding a number of new, permanent showrooms and temporary showcases. Attendees will discover a record-breaking number of exhibiting companies in the Home Furnishings category in section B2, while C13’s Casual showroom will feature temporary displays from several first-time exhibitors.

In addition to perusing product displays at their leisure, market attendees will have the opportunity to learn from the experts during designer-led showroom tours. They will also have access to a vast selection of educational panels and seminars focused on a variety of industry-relevant topics, from home design trends to best practices in furniture retailing.

The Summer 2017 Las Vegas Market will include the return of staple industry events and award programs, including the 7th Annual “Up on the Roof” Gift for Life fundraiser and the 3rd Annual ANDYZ Design Awards. As in previous years, the Summer 2017 Las Vegas Market will also offer a variety of amenities to enhance the buyer experience. Convenient resources will include complementary breakfasts; a mothers’ lounge; Internet-equipped workspaces for buyers, designers, and journalists; and a networking area for international attendees.

What’s New?

International Market Centers has made a number of updates to the Las Vegas Market program in anticipation of a record-breaking summer event. This year, the summer market will feature a streamlined sign-in system and a larger area in which to process onsite registrations. Attendees who have pre-registered for the market will also be able to take advantage of multiple off-site locations, including the Golden Nugget and the Aria Resort and Casino, that offer expedited badge pickup.

Market organizers recently introduced a new online resource to help attendees prepare for the market experience. Featuring insight from a number of home furnishings thought leaders, DesignOn LVMkt will present a series of insightful and informative blog posts focused on industry news, new products, and emerging design trends. It joins a host of other helpful web-based resources, including the online catalog gallery and online market planner.

A number of new organizational partners will join the Summer 2017 Las Vegas Market to develop exciting new events and exhibits around their unique industry niches. Incoming partners include the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, the Las Vegas Spa Association, the PLATIN-Latin American Alliance, Sierra Pacific Crafts, and The Munce Group. These organizations join more than 30 additional trade and retail groups.

The Summer 2017 Las Vegas Market will also mark the event’s first collaboration with Luxe Interiors + Design, a prominent home fashions publication. On August 1, the magazine will host a panel discussion for the Las Vegas Market Ahead of the Curve program featuring a number of influential designers from the western home furnishings market. The discussion will focus on regional trends in home furnishings and décor and will include time set aside for audience questions.

Attendees will receive another preview of the latest home furnishings trends when the market releases its biannual FIRST LOOK guide. Encompassing showroom displays, tours, seminars, and promotional materials, the FIRST LOOK program revolves around a series of style themes that embody the aesthetic spirit of each new Las Vegas Market. Keep an eye out for it as the market approaches!

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This Is How Furniture Logistics Is Evolving

When seeking opportunities to grow revenue and offer improved value to their customers, furniture retailers typically strive to stay abreast of the latest design trends and innovative marketing strategies. However, in recent years, some of the most significant opportunities to improve operations have emerged within the realm of logistics.

As enterprise technologies advance and become more firmly intertwined with business operations, digital tools offer furniture retailers and logistics providers new opportunities to reduce costs, increase sales, and improve customer satisfaction. Read on to learn more about how industry trends and technological developments are transforming furniture logistics, enabling companies to facilitate deliveries with more speed and transparency than ever before.

Serving the Modern Consumer

furnitureShifting customer expectations have played a large role in driving many of the recent developments in furniture logistics. In the age of e-commerce, consumers have come to expect an efficient, transparent, and personalized retail experience. This includes a hassle-free delivery service that is on-demand, damage-free, and on-time—or even faster than expected. To meet these demands, many furniture retailers are working to increase the speed of their shipments with the knowledge that, with an ever-growing range of options for home furnishings, customers may very well choose the retailer that can offer the fastest delivery.

E-commerce has also changed the way that many consumers shop for furniture. Increasingly, shoppers are opting to buy individual pieces rather than full room sets, and while e-commerce has spurred growth in furniture sales, it has also driven an increase in returns, bolstering the strategic significance of the reverse supply chain.

To effectively serve consumers in 2017, companies throughout the furniture supply chain must collaborate to provide more efficient, customer-focused delivery services. Retailers will need to be more discerning than ever in developing their supply chains, partnering with manufacturers and logistics providers to ensure just-in-time manufacturing and shipping processes that meet the efficiency and quality standards of the digital age.

The Need for Visibility

One of the primary ways that furniture retailers can leverage logistical improvements to enhance the customer experience is by adding visibility to the product lifecycle. When retailers are able to monitor a piece of furniture at all stages of the supply chain, they can anticipate and efficiently respond to any issues that may arise.

For example, a retailer with excellent supply chain visibility might observe that a product will take an extra week to reach the distribution warehouse due to complications at the manufacturing facility. The company can then alert customers to the delay, keep them updated on their order’s journey via digital mediums, and work with them to set a new, mutually acceptable delivery time.

In this way, supply chain visibility can help retailers offer more value to their customers. Realizing this, furniture companies are now prioritizing visibility alongside factors such as style and price when considering supplier partnerships.

Harnessing Technology

furnitureAs furniture retailers work to improve supply chain metrics like efficiency and visibility, technology has become an indispensable resource. Furniture companies are increasing their investments in logistics technologies at a time when these digital tools are rapidly advancing, prompting the digitization of many processes.

In recent years, technologies such as GPS and radio-frequency identification have granted furniture companies greater supply chain visibility, allowing them to track the progress of vehicles and individual products from the manufacturer to the customer’s front door. In addition, the advancement of management information systems has allowed organizations to more efficiently manage the numerous processes and personnel involved in the delivery process.

Furniture retailers and logistics providers are also leveraging more advanced warehouse management software platforms, automated material handling equipment, mobile tools, and biometric devices to further enhance supply chain efficiency while maintaining high standards of safety and security. At the same time, advancing technologies have allowed logistics providers and retailers to shrink the environmental impact of the furniture product lifecycle. Electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells, and other renewable energy sources have provided new ways for companies to reduce their carbon footprints, while the Internet of Things and AI-enabled technologies are assisting logistics providers in optimizing their vehicles’ routes, speeds, and fuel usage to be as sustainable and cost-efficient as possible.

Starting Small

Furniture companies need not launch extensive digital transformations to optimize their logistics strategies. Oftentimes, the most effective way to increase efficiency is to launch a small-scale, targeted effort to assess pain points throughout the logistics process and pinpoint specific areas for improvement. Business leaders should gather a few stakeholders to measure key metrics such as delivery timeliness, damage frequency, and overall customer satisfaction. While customer feedback should help inform these considerations, leaders should avoid responding to problems reactively. Instead, they should focus on locating the root of logistical mistakes and inefficiencies. After identifying a few areas for improvement, teams can research potential digital solutions within the vast landscape of emerging logistics technologies.

In the time-sensitive world of logistics, the speed of data collection and analysis is one of the most critical strategic considerations. When exploring how to improve their logistical processes, companies should consider not only what data they are collecting along the supply chain, but also the amount of time it takes to synthesize and act on this data. For example, a retailer may receive monthly reports detailing how many of their deliveries were on schedule, but it may be easier—and more effective—to act on this information if they receive it in real time.

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How Retailers Can Make the Most of the In-Store Experience

There’s no doubt that the rise of e-commerce has shaken up the retail sector. In the most recent iteration of its annual e-commerce survey, analytics firm comScore found that—for the first time in the survey’s five-year history—polled customers made over half of their purchases online. And while a Pew Research Center survey conducted in June 2000 found that just 22 percent of Americans had purchased something online, this number has now risen to 79 percent.

furniture showroomThe act of visiting a physical showroom has long been an integral part of the furniture-buying process, but the furniture industry has not been immune to the impact of e-commerce. Online shopping has actually helped to fuel significant growth in the sector in recent years. While brick-and-mortar sales have risen by 13.8 percent since 2009, e-commerce has surged by 168 percent to make up over 15 percent of total furniture sales.

Although online shopping has largely been a boon for the furniture business, it has created new challenges for retailers. In addition to optimizing their online channels, companies must also find ways to ensure that their brick-and-mortar locations do not become obsolete. By leveraging knowledge of customer trends, an understanding of emerging technologies, and a bit of creativity, retailers can create unique experiences that keep shoppers coming back to their brick-and-mortar locations. The following are a few ways that furniture retailers can enhance their in-store experience.

Multichannel Integration

Even as technology threatens the prominence of brick-and-mortar retail, some innovative companies are harnessing digital tools to improve the in-store experience. A recent survey conducted by Deloitte revealed that almost 70 percent of consumers go online before visiting a store, while 36 percent also browse the Internet while shopping at brick-and-mortar locations. Further research in the B2B space has also revealed that customers tend to spend more money after interacting with multiple channels. All of this suggests that retailers cannot afford to ignore the influence of digital channels while striving to improve their in-store experiences.

Mobile technology has also emerged as a particularly powerful way to add value to the physical retail environment while adding depth to the omnichannel customer journey. Mobile coupons, digital home design platforms, product match tools, and in-store pickup centers for online orders can all be useful in turning online shoppers into in-store customers. At the same time, innovative mobile applications have the potential to optimize the sales process from start to finish.

As the largest furniture retailer and manufacturer in the United States, Ashley Furniture is on the forefront of this trend. Thanks to the company’s recent partnership with Mad Mobile, which has helped streamline the in-store operations of such prominent organizations as Payless and Major League Baseball, both customers and associates at Ashley Furniture showrooms around the world will have access to a number of new, innovative mobile tools.

Mad Mobile’s Concierge application is a prime example of how mobile tools can help to optimize the in-store experience. The tool can assist retail associates in managing inventory, customer information, and point-of-sale interactions, while its Clienteling module allows employees to digitally manage tasks and appointments, take notes, and communicate with prospective customers. At the same time, the mobile app will also improve the customer shopping experience by providing integration with online shopping carts and Apple Pay accounts, issuing digital receipts, and streamlining the overall checkout experience.

Adding New Value

tablesAs e-commerce platforms offer new levels of convenience to consumers, furniture retailers stand to benefit from emphasizing the experiential aspect of their physical locations. By creating and promoting inspirational, on-trend, and expansive showrooms, retailers can continue to position their brick-and-mortar locations as an important step in the purchasing process, even if customers ultimately decide to make a purchase online.

As companies strive to make the in-store experience a valuable one, retail design aesthetics will also become an important consideration. The industry-wide effort to create memorable brick-and-mortar locations is driving a focus on both the impact and consistency of store design, as companies strive to develop in-store experiences that reinforce their brand identities.

Innovative In-Store Marketing

Technology has afforded retailers a number of new opportunities to engage in-store customers with promotional content. Companies such as Estimote have begun developing physical beacons that, when positioned throughout a store, can automatically push strategic promotional content to customers’ smart devices. The growing popularity of wearable technology is poised to create more opportunities for beacon marketing. In a survey by Startek (formerly Accent Marketing), more than half of respondents said they were willing to purchase wearable devices capable of pushing alerts and gathering insights for retail companies.

LCD video displays and interactive touch screens also offer new ways to present product information, and new IoT-enabled displays are now facilitating further in-store marketing innovation. At the most recent Retail Tomorrow conference in San Antonio, Texas, Impax Media unveiled a video marketing platform designed for the retail checkout line. Recognized as the most disruptive innovation presented at the conference, the IoT video screen collects anonymous data on patterns in customer traffic and engagement, in addition to displaying promotional content. But perhaps most remarkably, the screen also reduced customers’ perceived wait times.