Month: February 2018

living room

This Is How Ashley Furniture Gives Back to the Community

ashley furniture logoDedicated to social responsibility, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., works to give back to the customers and communities that have helped it become one of the largest home furnishings manufacturers in the world. The company’s charitable giving programs have focused on a variety of areas, including art, health care, education, and youth development. Ashley Furniture also contributes time and resources to assist individuals and families affected by natural disasters.

The following programs and activities outline just a few of the ways the company is working to make the world a better place:

 

Advancing Disaster Relief Efforts

Since its founding more than seven decades ago, the company has directed hundreds of volunteer service hours and millions of dollars toward natural disaster recovery efforts worldwide. Ashley Furniture most recently announced that it would help distribute over 4,700 mattresses throughout Puerto Rican communities ravaged by Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that made landfall in late September 2017, pummeling the island territory and leaving many residents without shelter and other necessities.

Ashley Furniture donated approximately $1 million worth of mattresses in partnership with local Ashley Furniture HomeStores operated by the family-owned Puerto Rican company Mueblerías Berríos. With support from the US Army National Guard and Puerto Rico’s First Lady, Beatriz Isabel Rosselló, Mueblerías Berríos employees delivered the mattresses to homes in more than 70 cities across the island.

In addition to helping people recover from Hurricane Maria, Ashley Furniture provided much needed relief to individuals recovering from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, which severely damaged communities in Texas and Florida in 2017. Ashley donated $2 million in furniture products and discounts through local Ashley HomeStores to help families get back on their feet.

 

Spreading Holiday Cheer

Alongside its work in disaster relief, Ashley Furniture oversees a variety of activities to help those who are less fortunate. For the last two decades, company employees have supported these efforts through Ashley’s Angels, a volunteer-led nonprofit group that distributes food, clothing, and toys to children from disadvantaged backgrounds each holiday season.

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Ashley’s Angels works in partnership with dozens of school districts in Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to identify families that will benefit from the program. After the group selects the recipients, volunteer shoppers from the Ashley community come together to purchase, wrap, and load the gifts onto Ashley trucks, which deliver the items to families in mid-December. In 2017, Ashley employees raised over $262,000 to provide holiday cheer for more than 1,350 children from 60 school districts. Ashley’s Angels has raised over $3 million, benefiting more than 20,000 children, since its creation in 1997.

 

Improving the Lives of Children in Need

Another way Ashley Furniture demonstrates its commitment to the community is through its Hope to Dream program. Launched in 2010, the program provides mattresses, bed frames, and bedding for underprivileged children aged 3 to 16. Throughout the year, over 430 Ashley HomeStores across the country donate a portion of each mattress sold to help support the program. Ashley also partners with professional sports teams and organizations such as United Way, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to ensure that Hope to Dream benefits as many children as possible.

In 2017, Hope to Dream participants across the country celebrated the program’s seventh anniversary by working toward a goal of providing brand-new beds for 10,000 children. By the end of the year, they had exceeded their goal with a total of just over 12,000 beds. Ashley Furniture continues to advance the program, adding to the more than 50,000 beds it has provided to children nationwide.

 

Supporting Arts, Entertainment, and Family Fun

Each August, tens of thousands of people gather in Arcadia, Wisconsin, for three days of music and fun activities during the Ashley for the Arts festival. First held in 2009, the event provides low-cost family entertainment while raising money for Ashley for the Arts, an initiative that supports Wisconsin schools, children’s charities, and other nonprofit organizations.

Alongside a lineup of great musicians, the festival, which takes place at Arcadia’s Memorial Park, features a car show, fireworks, circus performers, interactive children’s activities, and an art and craft fair with over 100 vendors. The festival also includes the annual Pursuit of a Cure 5K Run/Walk benefitting the American Cancer Society and local emergency response services.

In its first decade, the Ashley for the Arts festival grew from a relatively small event attended by a few hundred people into one of Wisconsin’s largest fundraisers. The 2017 festival attracted over 50,000 attendees and raised more than $425,000. All of the proceeds from the event went to a group of over 40 organizations. In addition to more than a dozen area school districts, beneficiaries included local churches, youth groups, and various community organizations.

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luxury car

This Is How Millennials Are Changing Luxury Retail

Although the luxury sector has experienced a slight slump in recent years, current projections by market analysts suggest that the industry is gearing up for a rebound. In a recent report, Bain and Company estimated that the luxury consumer market will grow at an annual rate of 4 to 5 percent through 2020.

One significant factor expected to drive this growth is the increasing buying power of millennials. As of 2017, millennial consumers comprised 38 percent of activity in the luxury consumer market, yet accounted for only 30 percent of spending. This is likely to change in the near future, with luxury spending among millennials growing to match their presence in the sector.

Millennials will join forces with Generation Z to make up 45 percent of the international personal luxury goods sector. However, they will do so in their own unique way, subverting many of the trends and expectations currently associated with luxury retail. The following are some of the major habits and preferences shared by millennial consumers as they drive the renewal of the luxury sector:

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  1. Redefining the Luxury Label

As millennials become a stronger force among consumers, they are beginning to shed traditional attitudes toward luxury brands. For decades, luxury products have offered consumers something beyond the assurance of quality. Personal luxury products have come to serve as markers of wealth and status, and in many cases, even signify transitions from one stage of life to the next.

Consumers have long aspired to partake in the luxury market because it signifies a certain level of wealth. Millennials, it would seem, are driven less by these positive associations and more out of a desire for self-expression.

The generational shift in perspective toward luxury brands may be the result of multiple factors. For one, the bulk of the millennial generation is entering adulthood in an economic climate less favorable than that enjoyed by their parents. Social expectations are evolving, while digitization has created endless new possibilities. Millennials have come of age in a world of endlessly expanding possibility, and their budding interest in luxury brands reflects an interest in this possibility rather than predefined labels.

When millennial consumers consider investing in luxury brands, it is usually because they are seeking to make a personal statement. Rather than attempting to communicate their economic status, they are instead striving to make a purchase that reflects their unique values and interests. For millennials, luxury brands are a way to not only display their identity, but also help define it.

The need to promote individuality rather than exclusivity has prompted many luxury brands to expand into new categories. One recently successful example is the streetwear retail subcategory. Many luxury apparel companies have developed t-shirts, sneakers, denim, and other casual products to cater to the needs and aesthetic tastes of millennials.

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  1. Millennials Value Experiences

The luxury submarkets that have experienced the largest increase in growth are those that offer not only products, but experiences. This includes areas such as hospitality and food and beverage. In order to keep up with these sectors, personal luxury goods markets such as furniture and apparel must tap into consumers’ desire for uniquely valuable experiences. They must leverage a combination of product development and marketing strategies to offer products that communicate an idea that inspires consumers to make a purchase. Brands can accomplish this by using digital platforms to reach out to consumers, as well as by offering items at a variety of price points to encourage experimental entry-level purchases.

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  1. Meeting Customers Where They Are

A recent study of millennials’ shopping habits conducted by Deloitte confirmed that the generation is largely drawn to online retail. Millennials rely on company websites and social media to influence their luxury purchases, and they are more likely to buy luxury items online.

E-commerce is therefore an increasingly relevant channel that retailers cannot afford to ignore. While online sales comprised less than 10 percent of all luxury sales in 2017, this number could increase to 25 percent by 2025.

However, the shift to online retail doesn’t diminish the importance of brick and mortar locations. If anything, the growing role of e-commerce makes the in-store experience a more crucial element of the overall customer journey. Visiting a physical store is often the final step in the buying process for consumers who conduct most of their research online. Thus, retailers must provide engaging, immersive in-store experiences that reflect their brands and provide a value that can’t be gained online.

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Looking Ahead

Emerging consumer trends in luxury furniture are gradually driving fundamental changes in the sector. While today’s leading luxury brands have traditionally focused on brand heritage and history as marketing points and foundations for product design, newer strategies are celebrating individuality, exploring new design possibilities, and helping consumers express their identity.

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The Most Common Reasons That Customers Leave without Buying

Watching a customer enter your store, browse for a while, and then leave without buying anything can be a vexing experience for a furniture retailer. Based on the customer’s decision to enter your store, you might assume that you carry an item that he or she is interested in. So what prevented this potential customer from making a purchase?

Many lost sales opportunities lie in between a customer’s decision to browse a store and his or her decision to leave empty handed. In order to make the most of every customer relationship, it is necessary to explore the following most common barriers to making a sale:

 

  1. Customers Can’t Find What They’re Looking For.

The rise of digital retail has allowed consumers to become better informed and, therefore, more independent shoppers. A rising number of customers feel that they don’t need a sales person’s assistance to locate the items they plan to evaluate. For this reason, when well-informed customers fail to find what they’re looking for on their own, they may be more likely to assume that you simply do not have it in stock than to request assistance from one of your sales representatives.

While furniture showrooms typically feature a significant cross section of a retailer’s merchandise, home furnishings companies typically stock additional options in their warehouses. This is increasingly true as digitization across the supply chain allows companies to efficiently sell from warehouses in multiple regional locations. If a customer can’t find what he or she is looking for in your showroom, it is likely that you’ll have a suitable option in a physical catalog or on your website. In order to connect them to these options, however, you will first need to get them face to face with a sales professional.

Furniture salespeople face the challenge of providing shoppers with adequate support without being too overbearing. When a new customer enters your store, your associates should strive to find out what kind of pieces he or she is searching for, even if his or her stated reason for coming in is “just browsing.” This provides an introduction to the sales process and allows your employees to set customers on the right path to finding what they need and to make themselves available for additional assistance.

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  1. Sales Professionals Don’t Adequately Assess Customers’ Needs.

Finding out what attracted a prospective customer to your store is an extremely important step in the sales process. However, as customers become more knowledgeable, traditional methods of qualifying customers are quickly becoming outdated. Most consumers are already well-acquainted with the retail sector that they are shopping within and are likely armed with some degree of research regarding your brand and products. Thus, it is necessary for you and your sales associates to delve deeper to truly analyze the unique needs of each customer.

In order to accomplish this, you must ask strategic questions that seek to uncover not simply what piece of furniture a customer is looking for, but also the finer details of their unique consumer journey. Questions such as, “Have you been shopping long?” and “Did you see anything you liked at any other stores?” can help provide a clearer view of how quickly a customer hopes to make a purchase, as well as his or her tastes in the context of current industry trends. Afterwards, asking questions about—and perhaps even creating a sketch of—the room that the new piece of furniture will fit into can provide further insight into a customer’s needs.

 

  1. The Price Isn’t Right.

A customer’s decision to check the price on an item can often be a turning point in whether or not he or she will consider making a purchase. As such, an inability to locate accurate pricing information is an obvious impediment to a sale. However, customers may also leave your store if they believe that all of your items are above their ideal price point. It can be difficult to surmount this sales barrier, as large items like furniture are rarely priced at a level to encourage impulse buys, nor are many customers seeking to buy furniture on a whim. However, you can help alleviate financial woes by offering home furnishings at a wide range of price points and prominently featuring trendy, affordable entry products, such as small pieces of home décor, to entice budget-conscious shoppers.

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  1. The Sales Professionals Lack Knowledge.

It isn’t enough to simply begin a conversation with a customer. It is also necessary for your sales representatives to be capable of providing value that your digitally empowered customers can’t gain on their own time. A salesperson’s knowledge must extend beyond what is on your showroom floor to comprise your broader inventory, industry trends, and noteworthy activities by competing brands.

When customers reflect on exceptional retail experiences, they most often cite shopping trips when they received efficient service and smart recommendations. Knowledgeable, savvy sales professionals can provide a valuable reason for customers to keep browsing your store, so ensure that you equip your team members with the tools they need to be home furnishings industry experts.

millennial

6 of the Best Ways Top Furniture Sellers Can Attract Millennials

A group comprising approximately 80 million Americans born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, the millennial generation represents a large market of consumers who spend approximately $600 billion each year. While a fair amount of that annual spending goes toward high-tech gadgets, many millennials are moving into their own homes and apartments and shelling out a portion of their earnings to furnish them.

As members of this generation enter and advance into adulthood, furniture sellers have an opportunity to profit from their buying power. They can only do this, however, if they know how to attract millennials using the right marketing techniques and product offerings.

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Don’t Underestimate the Power of Online Marketing

The majority of today’s consumers rely on the Internet to shop for and research products. Of course, millennials are no different. To reach this segment of the buying public, business owners are most successful using a marketing strategy that makes effective use of mobile and social media platforms.

Many millennials are attached to their devices and use them daily to engage with friends, family, and businesses. Because of this, furniture sellers who maintain a mobile-friendly website and promote their brand on Facebook and Twitter will have a better chance of connecting with the millennial consumer. To be most effective, sellers should favor a strategic personalized approach over the in-your-face advertising that millennials tend not to appreciate.

 

Make Room for Tech-Friendly Products

As mentioned, millennials love their gadgets. Whether it’s a laptop, tablet, or the latest iPhone, many members of the generation would have a hard time getting through the day without connecting to an electronic device.

Desks with cable-management systems and similar tech-friendly features are likely to be a big hit with millennial shoppers. Home entertainment stands that reduce clutter and provide space for much-loved media and entertainment technology are also among the items that many modern consumers feel they can’t live without. Furniture sellers who offer products for the digital age and all the techy tools that come with it shouldn’t have any difficulty finding someone willing to buy them.

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Keep the Look Modern

According to recent shopping trends, younger consumers do not value antique or old-style furniture in the way that previous generations have. Many millennials are nostalgic and favor vintage products, but this apparently does not translate to furniture.

The trend away from antique pieces may be the result of millennial spending habits, which sometimes prioritize necessity over luxury. Regardless of the reason, traditional furniture is not popular among the generation, so furniture sellers should probably make more room for modern and contemporary utilitarian pieces if they want to earn the dollars of this consumer group.

 

Offer Affordable and Durable Standalone Pieces

As a generation that values mobility, millennials enjoy traveling and having the freedom to relocate to find new opportunities and adventures. The generation is also more likely than their parents were to compromise space for the ability to be close to the action in urban centers. These trends have an effect on millennials’ furniture preferences.

Although many value durable pieces that can stand up to a move or two, they want those pieces to come at an affordable price. Offering furniture that is budget-friendly but also of superior quality is a good idea for those looking to tap into the millennial market. It’s also important for furniture sellers to remember that many millennials are living in limited spaces that don’t have room for bedroom sets or sectional sofas. Single pieces that can be mixed, matched, and rearranged for different spaces are bigger sellers among younger shoppers.

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Consider Offering Eco-Friendly Options

In addition to being the largest generation in US history, millennials are also one of the most environmentally conscious. As much as 70 percent of the generation has said that a product’s environmental impact plays a role in whether or not they purchase it. Offering pieces that feature eco-friendly materials or that come from suppliers committed to sustainability may help bring more millennials into a furniture store.

 

Focus on In-Store Sales

Despite many millennials’ love of the virtual world, the generation still likes to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. A report from Home Furnishings News (HFN), which tracks trends in the industry, found that over 60 percent of millennials’ interior furnishing purchases were made in-store. Other reports have shown that as many as seven out of 10 members of the generation browse products in brick-and-mortar locations before making a purchase.

Ensuring that millennials and all other customers have a great in-store experience should be a top priority for every furniture seller. Having the ability to touch, feel, and see the product in person is particularly important when purchasing furniture and other items that play an important role in the home. Furniture can also involve a bit of an investment that many customers won’t want to make without actually seeing the item beforehand.