Month: October 2017

furniture

3 of the Best Strategies for Marketing to Furniture Shoppers

Due to the rise in e-commerce and the expanding role of millennial consumers, customer expectations are evolving in the home furnishings sector. Furniture shoppers are embarking on a more complicated journey that encompasses both the online and in-store shopping experience.

As a result, they are approaching their purchasing decisions with more knowledge than ever before. While furniture showrooms and sales pitches are playing a lesser role in the overall furniture-buying process, there is still a great deal that retailers can do to attract customers, exceed their expectations, and engender loyalty. Here are a few key strategies for marketing to furniture shoppers in the 21st century.

  1. Consider Emotional Intelligence

Klarna logoConsumers’ feelings and habits have always had a significant influence on their purchasing decisions, as well as retailers’ marketing efforts. However, the growing popularity of online shopping has made emotion an even greater determinant of consumer behavior. This is particularly true among millennial furniture buyers, as evidenced by recent market research conducted by Klarna UK. In examining the shopping habits of individuals ages 16 to 34, the firm found that shoppers in this demographic are far more likely than older generations to base their buying decisions on emotions experienced during the e-commerce process.

Both positive and negative emotions can influence a consumer’s decision to buy new furniture online. For example, Klarna also found that, in comparison with other age groups, millennials are five times more likely to feel anxious or guilty about how a purchase will impact their financial situation. Moreover, one in five survey respondents recall changing their mind about a purchase in response to these fears.

On the other hand, young adults shopping for furniture are also more likely to feel excited while adding potential purchases to their digital shopping carts. However, furniture retailers should not assume that an item in a shopper’s cart is a guaranteed sale. A large portion of shoppers, particularly those in the millennial generation, use their online shopping baskets to compare costs and create virtual “wish lists,” with many saving items that they have no intention of buying.

How can furniture retailers convince shoppers to finalize their prospective purchases? In many cases, a sense of urgency can convince consumers to take the plunge. More than half of millennials are more likely to buy an item to avoid missing out on a temporary special offer, indicating that retailers shouldn’t undercut the value of a good sales promotion.

By understanding how feelings such as impulsiveness, anxiety, and impatience can impact consumers’ thought processes, furniture retailers are able to provide more intuitive customer service. For example, in order to address the anxiety that some shoppers feel about making an expensive purchase, companies might promote deferred payment options to make their products more appealing. A retailer might also introduce a “try before you buy” program to reduce the risk of buyers’ remorse. By catering to customers’ emotions in such a way, companies will not only increase the likelihood of a sale, but also engender lasting loyalty among consumers who feel that the companies they frequent have their best interests in mind.

  1. Maximize Your Digital Space

If recent research on consumer emotions in the furniture sector suggests one thing, it would be that it is no longer sufficient to simply offer an e-commerce platform. Retailers must carefully consider each step of the customer journey and, in crafting their digital presence, examine how it will contribute to the overall customer journey.

Today, most shoppers begin the search for a new piece of furniture online. While a consumer’s first visit to your website probably won’t result in a sale, it is a crucial step in the customer journey as it provides shoppers with an introduction to your brand. Your website is often a consumer’s first opportunity to learn about your products, decide which brands and features appeal to them, and compare your prices, offerings, and level of service to other players in the market. With this in mind, you should prioritize the development of an engaging, informative landing page or online catalogue that provides a clear introduction to your brand. Your company website should clearly communicate what sets you apart from the competition, including delivery and consumer finance options that provide added value to customers.

ecommerce

The checkout process offers an ideal opportunity for online furniture retailers to improve customers’ digital journey. Currently, it is one of the primary pain points causing difficulties for shoppers, who can become irritated by clunky and unintuitive processes. In one survey, one out of four millennials reported experiencing frustration with checkout processes that do not save their payment details.

In considering the online customer experience, retailers should also consider how shoppers are accessing their websites. Smartphones are gradually gaining on laptop and desktop computers as the most popular tools for online shopping, and furniture companies should ensure that their e-commerce platforms are fine-tuned for mobile devices in order to avoid missing out on business from smartphone shoppers.

  1. Optimize the In-Store Experience

Despite the rise in e-commerce, consumers are still more likely to purchase furniture at a physical location. They are also likely to compare their options at multiple stores before making a final decision. Therefore, it is crucial that furniture companies prioritize both their digital and brick and mortar channels, striving to create a seamless omnichannel shopping experience. Just as your e-commerce platform should provide a variety of information to prepare shoppers to make educated decisions while in a store, the in-store experience should reflect assumptions of variety, quality, and personalized customer service created by your online presence.

One way to accomplish this is to integrate your retail management system with your e-commerce platform, ensuring that all pricing and inventory information is accurate for both in-store and online shoppers. Furniture business leaders should also consider the amount of research conducted by today’s highly informed, digitally empowered consumers when training their sales staff. As shoppers increasingly enter stores with a broad understanding of a company’s offerings and policies, it is more important than ever that sales representatives offer insights that go beyond basic product information in order to help customers find a great value that suits their needs.

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ashley furniture

9 of the Best Moments from the Most Recent Ashley for the Arts

Ashley for the ArtsEach year, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., hosts a celebration of art, community, and philanthropy in its hometown of Arcadia, Wisconsin. For three days, the town of just under 3,000 people grows by the tens of thousands as families travel from all over the region to take part in one of Wisconsin’s biggest charity events. Ashley for the Arts is a weekend dedicated to showcasing regional artists, enjoying award-winning entertainment, and bringing people together for a good cause.

Ashley Furniture has sponsored Ashley for the Arts since 2009, and the most recent iteration of the event was one for the record books. The 2017 event took place from August 10-12 and featured an unprecedented number of attendees and unforgettable performances. As per tradition, organizers hosted the affair at the 54-acre Memorial Park, which provides an expanse of beautiful, green spaces to accommodate numerous vendors, performers, refreshment stands, and other family-friendly activities. The following are some highlights from the 2017 Ashley for the Arts festival:

  1. Ashley for the Arts 2017 Achieves Record-Breaking Attendance

Ashley for the Arts is one of the largest charity events in Wisconsin, having grown exponentially since its inaugural festival in 2009. This initial affair welcomed only 300 attendees, but in 2017, Ashley for the Arts hosted an incredible 50,000 people. The largest crowd in the event’ history, this year’s audience smashed attendance records, surpassing 2016 numbers by more than 20,000.

Ashley for the Arts’ consistent affordability plays a large role in its ever-increasing popularity. From the beginning, event tickets have cost just $10 for the entire three-day festival. Sponsorship by Ashley Furniture, the involvement of several other corporations, and the support of the local community have all helped keep Ashley for the Arts an inexpensive, fun weekend for the entire family. The key facilitators of the event include nearly 3,000 volunteers, who donated their time and talents to make this magical weekend possible.

  1. Ashley for the Arts Raises Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars for Multiple Causes

In addition to being a celebration of art and creativity, Ashley for the Arts is also a massive charity event. Over the course of the weekend, the festival raised $425,000 for a vast array of children’s advocacy organizations, medical research groups, and other charitable nonprofits, as well as several regional school districts.

  1. Running for a Cure

pursuitofacure5kAshley for the Arts raises money through both admissions costs and events such as the Pursuit of a Cure 5K (and Miracle Mile) Run-Walk. Now a tradition at the annual arts festival, the casual race raises money for medical research and patient care, providing resources to help patients manage their day-to-day expenses while aiding efforts to develop cures to serious illnesses.

Each runner chooses his or her own charitable or research organization to support. The participants in the 2017 5K and Miracle Mile contributed more than $20,000 for their respective organizations, which included both national and local nonprofits such as the Arcadia Ambulance Service, the Rita Tranberg Memorial, and the American Cancer Society.

  1. Visual Spectacles

There was plenty to see at the 9th annual Ashley for the Arts. Throughout the weekend, hot air balloons provided a scenic backdrop for the daily festivities, and at night, attendees marveled at sky lanterns launched into the air.

On the third day, attendees also had the opportunity to peruse the annual Cruisin’ for the Arts car show. A treat for automobile enthusiasts of all ages, the event showcases both classic and contemporary cars.

  1. A Plethora of Family-Friendly Activities

Ashley for the Arts featured a vast array of creative performances and activities that provided exciting fun for the entire family. Throughout Memorial Park, guests encountered bounce houses, circus performers, magicians, acrobats, fire dancers, and even an interactive drum circle.

  1. Entertainment by Award-Winning Performers

Ashley for the Arts’ impressive selection of headlining musical performers is always one of the major highlights of the event, offering a medley of chart-topping hits from multiple popular genres. This year, the festival welcomed such noteworthy performers as Three Dog Night, Kip Moore, Echosmith, Gavin DeGraw, Montgomery Gentry, and NEEDTOBREATHE. It also celebrated talented local and regional artists including The Mondays, Big River Radio, Jackson Michelson, and Hope Country.

  1. Performances by Talented Young Artists

Ashley for the Arts also featured performances by the award-winning musicians of tomorrow. Several regional school districts showcased their creative talents at both the Amphitheater Stage and the Main Stage, where the festival’s headliners performed. On Friday, students from the Arcadia, Aquinas, Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau, and Hope Lutheran performed, while Saturday’s schedule featured several unique musical ensembles from around the region, including the Cotter Marching Band, the Cochrane-Fountain City Jazz Combo, and the Black River Falls Tintinnabulators.

Later, students from Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau’s Vocal Point entertained a crowd of over 30,000 on the main stage. In between headlining acts, the talented a cappella group shared multiple numbers from its recent performance at the international a cappella championships.

furinture

This Is What Ashley Furniture Has Been Up to Lately

ashley furniture logoAs the largest furniture retailer in North America and the top furniture manufacturer in the world, Ashley Furniture has developed a significant presence in many communities. The brand is not only dedicated to providing consumers with the best value on stylish and high-quality home furnishings, but also committed to giving back to the communities in which it operates.

In recent months, the company has done a great deal to support families in need while also receiving widespread recognition for its commitment to philanthropy and employee engagement. The following are some of the most recent news stories from Ashley Furniture:

  1. Ashley Helps Students Further Their Educations

A key aspect of Ashley Furniture’s ongoing efforts to enrich communities is its commitment to education. Each year, the company awards scholarships to help the children of its team members pursue their academic goals. It recently announced that it had awarded over $245,000 in scholarships to students who met these criteria and are heading off to college in 2017.

A total of 100 deserving high school graduates received scholarships under two programs: Ashley Grants in Aid, which awards a one-time scholarship of $2,000 to college-bound students; and the Wanek Engineering and Design Scholarship, which awards $3,333.33 to high school students planning to pursue secondary degrees in engineering or design.

In addition to helping fund the education of incoming college freshman, Ashley Furniture also facilitated an exciting learning opportunity for the junior high and high school students of Ashley employees. Over the summer, the company’s sponsorship allowed 23 children to attend the National Flight Academy Program, a week-long experience that offers students a uniquely engaging introduction to STEM topics.

During the program, students stay in a multi-story facility that serves as the world’s largest aircraft carrier simulator. As they take part in a variety of educational activities, or “missions,” students have an opportunity to build their interpersonal skills, learn to think on their feet, and engage with technologies such as flight simulators and virtual reality programs.

By allowing students to see through the eyes of a naval aviator, the National Flight Academy Program helps to introduce students to a variety of STEM-based career paths. Ashley furniture hopes to provide this opportunity to an even greater number of students in the future and has announced that it will sponsor 50 program participants in 2018.

  1. Ashley Furniture Contributes to Natural Disaster Relief Efforts

Ashley Furniture’s philanthropic endeavors extend far beyond education. Throughout its history, the company has shown a commitment to helping those most in need in whatever way it can. Recently, Ashley furniture teams across the country joined forces in an effort to assist communities impacted by severe hurricanes in Texas and Florida.

hurricane relief

In the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Harvey, employees at Ashley Furniture officers, retail centers, manufacturing facilities, and distribution hubs have participated in a flood drive gathering food and personal hygiene items for individuals displaced by these natural disasters.

Additionally, Ashley furniture has partnered with local retail locations and relief organizations in both states to help families find stable living arrangements as quickly as possible. The company also plans to provide over $1 million in products and discounts to residents of affected states.

  1. Dr. Ronald G. Wanek Recognized as Philanthropist of the Year

Each year, the National Speakers Association – a nonprofit that provides resources and networking tools to a diverse array of public speakers – holds an awards program to recognize noteworthy speakers who have demonstrated a strong commitment to philanthropy. Named after the founder and chairman emeritus of the National Speakers Association Foundation, the Nido R. Qubein Philanthropist of the Year Award highlights individuals both within and outside of the origination, but the 2017 awards program recognized a longstanding member: Dr. Ronald G. Wanek.

The Ashley Furniture Industries founder and chairman has prioritized philanthropy throughout his professional career. Since establishing the Ronald & Joyce Wanek Foundation with his wife in 1998, he has channeled tens of millions of dollars into areas including education, veteran’s affairs, and medical research. The Wanek family is particular concerned with the fight to cure type 1 diabetes, and to this end, the foundation recently awarded a $50 million grant to The City of Hope.

  1. Delivering A Good Night’s Sleep to Kids in Three States

Since 2010, Ashley Furniture’s Hope to Dream program has provided mattresses, bed frames, and bedding to children who do not have beds of their own. Recognizing that a safe and comfortable place to sleep is vital to children’s overall health and happiness, Ashley partners with local sports teams and nonprofit organizations to host Hope to Dream celebrations at stadiums and ballparks.

kids bed

In addition to providing children with their own beds, these fun-filled days also include plenty of snacks, exciting activities, and opportunities to hang out – and even dance – with star athletes. Over the summer, Ashley partnered with sports organizations including the Clearwater Threshers, Nashville Sounds, and Gwinnett Braves to give children in Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia an incredibly special day at the ballpark.

  1. Ashley Furniture Named One of America’s Best Workplaces

Once per year, Forbes partners with research firm Statista to assess the vast landscape of American workplaces. In their most recent study, the organizations surveyed 30,000 workers to glean which employers offer the greatest value to their employees. Forbes’ 2017 list of America’s Best Employers includes Ashley Furniture, which has been committed to employee development and engagement since its founding in 1970.

As the company has grown from a single 35-employee manufacturing facility to a global enterprise comprising over 26,000 people, Ashley furniture has continued to support the continued professional growth of its team members. As described by president and CEO Todd Wanek, “Our employees are the heartbeat of our organization.” This is demonstrated in the company’s financial investments in its employees; in recent years, it has channeled over $1 billion into employee development, particularly efforts to engage and empower employees with technology.

children's furniture

Here Are the Trends to Watch in Children’s Furniture

Parents have a great deal to consider when designing their child’s bedroom or nursery. Price, style, safety, and functionality are just a few of the factors that come into play when creating a space for a new addition to the family or transforming an older child’s bedroom. While style trends have long dictated purchases for other rooms in the home, consumers are increasingly turning to style guides to create comfortable, engaging, and practical bedrooms for their kids.

The following are some of the most noteworthy trends currently influencing buying habits in the children’s furniture sector:

  1. Going Green

In recent years, a growing sense of environmental stewardship has impacted both business practices and consumer preferences across a number of industries. This is especially true in the home furnishings industry, where responsible product sourcing and production can go a long way in reducing a company’s environmental impact.

When planning rooms for children, furniture buyers are increasingly seeking the assurance that they are buying from sustainable, ecologically responsible companies. In addition to seeking pieces that have a minimal impact on the environment, parents are also concerned with the effects that furniture materials and manufacturing processes may have on the health and safety of their families. As a result, products that carry organic and non-toxic certifications are becoming more popular, as are furnishings and textiles made of all-natural materials.

  1. Vivid Hues

children's room

Bright colors have always been a popular staple for children’s rooms, adding fun, excitement, and character to the spaces where they sleep and play. While colors were often dependent on gender in the past, recent decades have seen parents move away from the obligatory pinks and blues to focus on vibrant shades such as purple, yellow, green, and orange. This is opening the door to new possibilities for themed design schemes that can be altered to fit kids’ unique interests and personalities.

  1. Neutral Tones

While bold colors prevail in the realm of kids’ décor, neutral shades have recently emerged as a way to add a sense of calm to otherwise loud, colorful spaces. Many parents are choosing chic black and white themes for their nurseries, while grey has emerged as a popular color for kids of all ages. At the same time, white has also become a more popular shade for walls, furniture, and floor coverings. All of these neutral hues allow parents to add subtle yet vibrant pops of color through bedding, lighting, toys, and other accents. The result is a visually pleasing, on-trend room that appears organized and sophisticated, and coordinates more easily with the rest of the home.

  1. Abstract Patterns

children's room

Prints and patterns have always been a popular way to add energy and character to children’s rooms. While classic prints like stripes and polka dots are still going strong, more abstract designs are beginning to add a whimsical flair to rooms for both young children and teens. These patterns often have a hand-drawn appearance that lends itself to lively design schemes and mixes well with other patterns. Whether squiggles, geometric shapes, or playful drawings, these unique prints are livening up everything from bedding to shelving units.

  1. Timeless Styles

As the American furniture industry surged back to life following the recent economic recession, companies found themselves catering to consumers with different budget needs. As families continue to seek cost-efficient children’s furniture items that are durable as well as affordable, they are choosing styles that can evolve with their child as he or she ages. Resilient materials like hardwood and metal, vintage motifs, and simple, understated colors and patterns can combine to create rooms that can easily grow with children, rather than appearing childish or outdated during their teenage years.

  1. Unique Accent Walls

children's roomAs neutral tones become more popular in children’s furniture and décor, parents are adding bursts of color in unexpected ways. One persistent trend is the use of uniquely patterned wallpaper to add excitement and depth to a room. While the use of wallpaper throughout an entire bedroom has fallen out of favor, using wallpaper to spice up one or two accent walls is an extremely popular trend. Many families are also extending this idea to the ceiling.

  1. Scandinavian Chic

As families look for new ways to combine comfort, style, and functionality in children’s spaces, Scandinavian-inspired designs are increasingly popular, as they have been in other rooms of the home. Marked by clean lines, simple colors, geometric patterns, and whimsical charm, the aesthetic works well in modern children’s rooms. Many brands offer the added benefit of organic, eco-friendly materials as well. In addition, products often combine storage and décor in one package, using beautiful design to improve function.

brand

The Best Ways to Encourage and Reward Customer Loyalty

Each American household has, on average, 29 memberships with retail loyalty programs. This amounts to astonishing 3.3 billion loyalty program memberships throughout the country. However, despite the popularity of customer loyalty initiatives among both businesses and consumers, the furniture industry has traditionally dedicated fewer resources than other sectors to this area.

furniture

For many furniture companies, the matter of customer loyalty seems irrelevant. Leaders assume that customers will return in five years, or the average amount of time it takes for them to need a new piece of furniture. But companies that disregard the potential benefit of customer loyalty may be missing out on a huge opportunity.

Northwestern University’s Center for Retail Management estimates that between 12 and 15 percent of all customers are loyal to a specific company. However, this small portion of consumers can generate between 55 and 70 percent of a company’s total revenue.

Furniture business leaders cannot afford to ignore the impact that customer loyalty has on their sales performance, marketing efforts, and overall company image. The following are some key considerations for furniture executives seeking to weave loyalty into the fabric of their corporate strategies:

  1. Understand the value of loyal customers.

Loyal customers can be one of a company’s strongest assets. But while their repeated engagements with a business will have an obvious positive impact on a firm’s bottom line, returning customers present a benefit far beyond their own purchases.

Customers who frequent your brand are more likely to sing its praises to their friends and family members, often providing a more directly relatable recommendation than corporate advertising. In addition to helping to attract new customers, your most loyal shoppers are also likely to help educate customers on your products and services.

A strong sense of customer loyalty can also aid your ongoing efforts to improve your company. Customers who frequently engage with your brand will be more qualified and motivated to share honest, detailed feedback about the strong and weak points of your current operations.

These consumers not only possess the most first-hand experience with your products, they also stand to benefit from any future improvements that you implement. Business leaders should target these customers when launching consumer surveys, focus groups, or product demos. However, they must first learn to recognize the customers who are most loyal to their brands.

  1. Identify your super-users.

user

A cross-industry term referring to the customers who do the most to invest in, promote, and engage with your brand, super-users are the consumers you should focus on first if you are making customer loyalty a strategic priority. By promoting your brand, onboarding new customers, and providing vital feedback, these highly-engaged customers do a great deal to support your sales and marketing efforts. Additionally, they are often instrumental in creating the perception of a company culture of personalized service and customer engagement.

Not every customer will be a super-user, but it is imperative that business leaders determine exactly who these star customers are. You should examine the customer demographics and behaviors that seem to prevail among your most loyal customers. Using this information, determine the qualities of your company that are most effective at attracting and retaining customers.

  1. Study the rise of the membership economy.

One indication of the significance of customer loyalty is the emergence of the membership economy. Increasingly, companies are basing their business models around customer-centric promotional strategies that draw on incentives and a sense of community to attract and retain their customers.

One example of this is CrossFit, a fitness company that organizes its members into small workout groups. Each day, members all around the world meet to perform the same workout, pushing each other to reach their goals and exceed their expectations. In this way, the sense of inclusiveness provided by CrossFit’s supportive teams serves as a promotional tool in and of itself.

It may be difficult for a product-focused enterprise such as a furniture company to center its operations on customer engagement in a similar fashion as a fitness club. However, there are multiple ways for furniture business leaders to work to improve customer loyalty. One common strategy is the implementation of a loyalty program.

When creating a customer loyalty program, you may choose to create a traditional reward program that awards credit based on a customer’s buying habits. Alternatively, you may opt to create a VIP membership that affords consumers special discounts for a one-time or annual membership fee.

Although a VIP membership program may be attractive due to the additional revenue a company can bring on with each new sign-up, the success of such a program may be limited depending on your market. Keep in mind that customers are unlikely to join two similar VIP clubs for companies selling similar projects. For this reason, it is important to make customer loyalty a key priority to gain an advantage over less timely competitors.