Month: July 2018

furniture

Spotlight – Social Media Best Practices for Furniture Retailers

Along with providing a space where users can chat with friends, catch up on news, and follow the latest celebrity gossip, social media channels can be a great source of business information. Alerts about upcoming sales, pictures of the newest product arrivals, reviews, and helpful shopping and design tips are all available on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. With so many people using these and other sites on a daily basis, social media is playing an increasingly important role in many retailers’ marketing strategies.

According to Social Media Examiner’s 2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 92 percent of marketing professionals say that social media is important to their work. Many marketers and retail professionals, however, still struggle with implementing the right strategy to reach their target audience. This problem is particularly prevalent for many retailers in the home furnishings industry, which has been somewhat slow to fully embrace new technologies, including social media.

The good news is that leveraging social media to attract and engage customers does not have to be an overly complicated task. Read on to learn more about social media and the marketing channels available to your business.

 

Why Use Social Media?

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The easy answer to this question is that these platforms are extremely popular. An estimated 2.62 billion people worldwide use social media, and this number is only expected to climb in the coming years. Ensuring that your business has a presence on prominent online channels can help you reach the many people who use social sites every day to connect not only with friends and family, but also with local businesses.

Studies have shown that while price is the leading factor in determining where an individual shops, knowing and trusting a business is also very important to today’s consumers. When used effectively, social media provides a way for retailers to build trust and brand awareness while showing the personal and sometimes light-hearted side of their business. Although boosting profits is the ultimate goal of all retail marketing strategies, social media offers the unique opportunity to drive sales by starting a conversation, building a community, and making personal connections with customers.

 

Mastering Facebook

Although it has been the recipient of negative press recently, Facebook still reigns as the top social media channel in terms of the number of daily users. The platform is also the top choice for marketers looking to reach consumers through social media.

Retailers wanting to get the most out of their Facebook page may want to start by rethinking the size and content of their posts. A recent study conducted by social media analytics company Quintly found that posts with fewer than 50 characters resulted in the most interactions. Posts with no text at all came in second place. Quintly also found that visual content is extremely effective at driving Facebook interactions. Video is the best way to boost engagement, but posts with images are also popular.

Using the Quintly study as a guide, retailers may be able to improve the effectiveness of their Facebook page by avoiding wordy posts and embracing video content, which still appears to be underused as a marketing tool. Retailers may also want to minimize the number of posts that include links. Although posts with links to products are pervasive on Facebook, they are less effective than videos, images, and status updates at boosting online interactions.

 

Embracing Instagram and Twitter

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Facebook may have the most active users, but it certainly isn’t the only social media platform that retailers should be using to reach their customers. While these platforms require a somewhat different approach, Instagram and Twitter are also effective tools for driving consumer engagement.

Because visuals are an important part of most marketing messages, more and more companies are using Instagram to build brand awareness. This is especially true in the home furnishings industry where design, color, texture, and functionality all come together in each product. To boost your Instagram account, include more product videos and consider posting user-generated content that highlights items found in your store. Don’t overdo it, however. For an Instagram account with less than 10,000 followers, one post per day should be sufficient.

Due to its character limit, marketing on Twitter can pose some challenges. However, it is the perfect platform for promoting discounts and sales events. Retailers can boost sales by creating special offers for followers. They can also drive engagement and attract more followers by using target keywords and hashtags to reach specific audiences.

 

Final Tips

In addition to focusing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, retailers looking to reach the largest possible audience on social media should maintain a presence on other platforms, including Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, and Tumblr. While retailers should treat each platform differently, it’s important to post content that starts a conversation and is worthy of a customer’s time.

Overall, the tone of social media posts should be friendly and conversational rather than salesy and promotional. It’s also important to monitor conversations and respond to customers’ questions, concerns, and even negative comments. Be genuine and add personality to your posts, and don’t forget to use social media accounts to show your company’s involvement in the local community.

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furniture

Here Is the Latest Community News from Ashley Furniture

As the world’s top furniture manufacturer, Ashley Furniture Industries maintains a strong presence in communities throughout the United States and over 120 other countries across the globe. With its manufacturing facilities and Ashley HomeStores, the company has grown in recent decades to become a billion-dollar enterprise comprising more than 800 retail locations. While the company is known for its quality products and designs, exceptional service, and unmatched value, Ashley is also recognized for supporting a wide range of worthy causes and organizations.

Through its community engagement efforts, the Wisconsin-based company directs funds and resources to various programs and activities in the areas of art, education, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility. Ashley Furniture’s recent work in the community demonstrates its commitment to giving back. The following provides an overview of what the company has been up to lately:

Hope to Dream Events Benefit Children in Memphis and Atlanta

Ashley’s giving programs include Hope to Dream, which provides twin mattresses, bed frames, pillows, and other bedding supplies to children across the country. Since founding the program in 2010, the company has donated more than 50,000 new beds with the help of various community partners.

At the end of the 2018 school year, Ashley HomeStore hosted a special event alongside Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. Approximately 50 Club members and their families took part in the event, which included a water balloon toss, face painting, and other fun activities. Before leaving, each child also received a mattress and bedding from the Hope to Dream program.

In Tennessee, Ashley recently partnered with the University of Memphis football team on a Hope to Dream event at the Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex. The event, which featured kids’ activities, football drills, and a facility tour, marked the fourth consecutive year that Ashley and the Memphis Tigers have worked together through Hope to Dream. In 2018, 100 children received mattresses and brand-new bed sets thanks to Ashley Furniture and the Memphis Tigers football program.

Ashley Employees Help Build Homes for Families in Need

Ashley HomeStore employees in Trenton, New Jersey partnered with the local Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing units for members of the local community. The partnership was made possible thanks to an internal program at Ashley HomeStore of Metro New York/New Jersey that encourages employees to take a day off work for community service projects. Throughout the month of May 2018, 60 Ashley employees supported the Habitat project. Ashley and Habitat’s combined efforts resulted in seven new homes.

Arizona Supportive Living Community Receives $100,000 in Furniture

In the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, a group of young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities is now enjoying a completely furnished new living facility thanks to a donation from Ashley HomeStore. The 26 young men and women benefitting from the donation are residents of Treasure House, a supportive living environment founded by Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner and his wife, Brenda.

The facility features individual studio apartments built around several community areas, including a family-style kitchen, game room, and patio. Under the direction of Ashley HomeStore Senior Vice President Kurt Haines, Ashley provided the furniture for Treasure House to ensure that residents have a comfortable place to relax, socialize, and build new skills.

Ashley Furniture Builds Bikes for Arcadia-Area Students

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In its hometown of Arcadia, Wisconsin, Ashley Furniture Industries supports a variety of community initiatives. These include Ashley for the Arts, a weekend festival featuring music, art, and family-oriented entertainment.

Along with planning for the upcoming festival, the company recently partnered with Ashley’s Angels to donate bikes, helmets, and bike locks to 42 students from three local schools. Ashley employees training at the Ashley Leadership Institute built the 42 bikes as part of a team-building exercise to develop cooperation, communication, and other leadership skills.

Ashley’s Angels, a youth-focused nonprofit group founded by Ashley employees, delivered 14 bikes to each of the three schools in Arcadia and the nearby communities of Whitehall and Independence. The schools awarded the bikes to lucky second- and third-grade students through raffle-style drawings.

Since its founding in 1997, Ashley’s Angels has supported programs and initiatives assisting over 20,000 children in Wisconsin, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

College-Bound Young Men and Women Receive $285,000 in Scholarships

Throughout its history, Ashley Furniture Industries has focused much of its community giving on ensuring that students across the United States have access to quality education. As part of these efforts, the company provides scholarship opportunities for children of Ashley employees.

The opportunities include the Ashley Grants-in-Aid Scholarship and the Wanek Engineering and Design Scholarship, which provide one-time awards of $2,000 and $3,333, respectively. In 2018, Ashley Furniture distributed $285,000 to over 125 high school graduates. Over the years, the company has awarded more than 2,000 scholarships and directed millions of dollars toward education programming nationwide.

living-room

How to Prevent Furniture-Related Injuries in the Home

The home is where families spend much of their time outside of work and school. As such, it is the site of many accidents, and, surprisingly, quite a few of them involve furniture. While a new flat-screen TV or heirloom dresser may be a prized possession, these items can also be a source of injury, especially in homes with small children or older adults. The first step to preventing furniture-related injuries is to purchase sturdy pieces made with high-quality materials. Once the furniture is in your home, it’s important to take some additional steps to keep your family safe. Here are a few things to keep in mind when maintaining an accident-free home:

 

The Hazards of Furniture Tip-Overs

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According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), tipping furniture and TVs are among the top hidden hazards in the home. It’s common for young children to climb furniture to get something out of their reach, but items like dressers, armoires, and TV stands can easily tip over under the weight of a little climber.

Each year, tip-over injuries send 38,000 Americans to the hospital, and the majority (two-thirds) of those injuries involve children under the age of 5. Tipping TVs and furniture can also be deadly. In fact, according to CPSC statistics, furniture-related accidents account for one child’s death every two weeks in the United States.

To raise the public’s awareness of furniture tip-over accidents, the CPSC launched its “Anchor It” campaign in 2015. The national campaign urges consumers to anchor large items such as dressers, bookshelves, and TVs to the wall to prevent them from tipping onto children and other family members. Additionally, the CPSC advises families to remove tempting items such as toys and remote controls from out-of-reach places as part of the Anchor It efforts to “get on top of it before they do.”

 

Preventing Tip-Overs with Furniture Anchors

Properly anchoring heavy furniture is a quick and easy task when using the right equipment. Manufacturers often ship anchoring kits with furniture, but these kits, which typically include two brackets and a tether, are also readily available in stores. Consumers attach one bracket to the furniture and the other to the wall. The brackets are then tethered by a strap or cable to prevent the piece from tipping over. When using furniture anchors, it’s important to do the following:

Select the right anchor—Some furniture comes with small plastic cable ties that experts warn can degrade and eventually break. Instead of using plastic, it is better to buy kits that contain nylon or braided steel cable tethers. Metal “L” brackets will also work well for many pieces of furniture.

Find a wall stud—Most modern homes are built with walls comprising drywall boards attached to interior wooden studs. You should screw furniture anchors into these studs rather than drywall, which can easily tear and break. Use a stud finder to locate a fastening spot, and be sure to attach the anchor using screws that are long enough to ensure a secure connection.

Attach to solid wood—In addition to attaching the wall bracket to a wooden stud, it’s important to firmly secure the other anchor into a solid piece of wood on the item of furniture. Avoid attaching the anchor to thin back panels or other areas that may not hold a screw firmly. Once you’ve located a solid spot, mark the area and pre-drill the wood before fastening the anchor with a wood screw.

 

Furniture-Specific Safety Tips

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Your home most likely contains many heavy items that could cause serious injury if they fell on a member of your family. Along with anchoring all top-heavy furniture to the wall, you should examine every piece of furniture for potential hazards. Some items to watch out for include the following:

Dressers and Armoires—Always install some sort of anti-tip device on dressers and armoires in every room of your home. When purchasing new items, you should look for dressers with automatic drawer stops and drawers that open and close smoothly. It’s also important to always close your dresser drawers after use to keep young children from using them like a ladder to reach items on the top of the dresser.

Bookcases—Like dressers and armoires, bookcases are very tempting to young climbers. Be sure to properly anchor your bookcases to a wall and take time to arrange the items on the shelves. Keep the heaviest books on the lowest shelf and never place any enticing items up high, where a child may be tempted to climb for them.

Televisions and Entertainment Centers—Regardless of whether it’s a newer flat-screen or an older “tube” model, the TV in your home could be an accident waiting to happen. Luckily, you can easily prevent injuries by mounting televisions to the wall or anchoring them firmly on a sturdy stand that is the appropriate size for the TV. If anchoring is not an option, be sure to push the television as far back on the stand as possible. Also, always keep all cords tucked away and out of reach to prevent tripping and tip-over injuries.

kitchen

You Need to Know about These Kitchen Décor Trends

As the saying goes, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s not only a gathering place for family, friends, and guests, but also an opportunity to showcase your personal design aesthetic. So, whether you’re planning a total kitchen overhaul or making only a handful of changes, you can pair your own style with the latest trends in décor to make the space truly shine.

Read on to explore a few of the kitchen décor trends that you can use in your next remodel:

 

Colorful cabinets

Though white cabinets remain a favorite among homeowners looking for a clean, bright aesthetic, colorful cabinets are beginning to come into their own. Blue, in particular, has been one of the biggest color trends in recent years. From light baby blue to deep cobalt, this color can add a splash of drama to any kitchen.

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More recently, however, another color has begun to take the spotlight: green. As more kitchen design schemes maximize natural elements, green has emerged as a top pick for cabinet remodels. Cabinets painted in this color complement warm metallic fixtures and marble countertops.

 

Statement shelving

Open shelving isn’t a new trend, but it is one that gained traction recently due to new interpretations of its usage in the kitchen. Typically, homeowners use open shelving to showcase their best dishware or most expensive food items. A true statement piece, open shelving also presents the perfect opportunity for homeowners to add their own creative flair to their kitchens. Between accessories and plant life, they are using these shelving units to create unique centerpieces.

There is an even more revolutionary trend influencing the use of open shelving in the kitchen, however. Instead of swapping out this type of shelving for their built-in cabinets, homeowners are turning their open shelving units into interesting kitchen focal points. Where some are choosing to put their open shelving in the corner of their kitchen, others are adding shelves to the tops of their windows.

 

Banquettes

A popular kitchen design trend from the 1980s, banquette seating is coming back in a major way. Long gone are the highly embellished cherry and oak banquettes of the past. Instead, homeowners are opting for seating arrangements with a more modern aesthetic. More recently, banquettes have left behind busy details in favor of cleaner lines.

The latest banquette trend has also changed the arrangement of banquette seating, doing away with the stuffy, narrow booths of the past. Banquettes now include other furniture pieces such as benches, side chairs, and separate tables. Many homeowners are also choosing to accessorize their banquettes with stylish pillows and vibrant greenery.

 

Pastels

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The pastel trend is perfect for homeowners who want to add some color to their kitchens but aren’t ready to commit to some of the brighter shades of paint. From pink to yellow to blue, pastel colors of all kinds add exciting highlights to any kitchen. These colors stand out the most against greys and wood accents. However, it’s also become popular for homeowners to add elegant pastel accent walls to brighten up their kitchens.

 

Islands with a purpose

Kitchen islands are becoming less of a small counter space in the middle of the room and more of a large, functional centerpiece. Homeowners are now using these additions to serve numerous purposes in their kitchens. More islands are featuring ample storage space of their own, with room for everything from cookbooks to wine racks. Many also equip their islands with built-in appliances and sinks so that they serve a more functional purpose in the kitchen. To top it all off, an increasing number of these fixtures are beginning to feature bar seating to accommodate guests. With all of these features, kitchen islands are truly doing it all.

 

Dark accents

There are more ways to add drama to the kitchen than using bright colors. Homeowners are also incorporating dark accents. Black fixtures, for example, are becoming a very popular choice for kitchens because they complement nearly every color scheme. From lamps to faucets, these dark accents lend a sleek, modern look to any kitchen.

Dark appliances are also set to overtake stainless steel as the number one choice for appliances. Some of the biggest manufacturers now offer ranges of microwaves, refrigerators, and ovens in dark grey and black.

 

Concealed hoods

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“Seamless” is one word that can describe many of the latest trends in kitchen décor, and nothing fits this label better than concealed range hoods. Where homeowners once preferred to make these vents the centerpiece of their kitchens, more people now prefer to hide them. From an aesthetic point of view, concealed hoods blend into the wall or upper cabinets to simplify the look of the entire space. As such, they attract less attention while still remaining functional.

 

Built-in sinks

In recent years, stainless steel and farmhouse sinks have been the dominant trend in kitchen sinks. However, these old favorites have been losing ground to a new trend: built-in sinks. Unlike more traditional models, these sinks are composed of the same materials as the countertops that surround them. Sometimes, they are even part of the counters themselves. This makes the kitchen look much sleeker by eliminating the visual separation between countertop and sink. Popular materials for built-in sinks include stone, marble, and concrete.

furniture

Top Insider Tips for How to Improve Furniture Sales

After several years of declining sales, retail leaders in the US furniture and home furnishings industry are benefiting from an improving economy that is giving consumers more money to spend on big-ticket items like furniture. Economic growth has led to a strong housing market, which, in turn, is now supporting healthy furniture sales numbers that are projected to continue for at least the next several quarters. With the current economic outlook, Furniture Today projects that the $96 billion furniture industry will experience a 2.9-percent growth rate through 2019.

Although furniture retailers can look forward to an improving market, they still need to focus on maintaining best retail practices to take advantage of upcoming sales opportunities. In the brick-and-mortar-driven furniture retail sector, efforts to boost sales center on positive face-to-face interactions and in-store experiences. Here are a few quick sales tips that retailers of all sizes can follow to ensure that customers do not leave without buying:

 

  1. Have a solid marketing plan

Successfully marketing furniture can be more challenging than other products because buying furniture requires an investment and happens only on occasion. Despite the challenge, however, furniture retailers looking to increase sales must find ways to attract customers using a solid marketing plan.

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Sending customers regular e-mails and/or SMS alerts provides retailers with a relatively easy way to maintain brand awareness and keep customers updated about in-store sales and promotions. To attract new customers, furniture managers and store owners can host sales events or promotional giveaways, which can be advertised easily using traditional mailers and social media. Furniture retailers can even partner with real estate agents to showcase their products in homes for sale in the community.

 

  1. Know your products

Knowledgeable sales associates are important in any retail environment, but they are essential to the success of all furniture stores. Within each furniture product category, there are a variety of styles, colors, designs, and materials from which customers can choose. Confident employees with an understanding of the products they are selling can both educate customers and put them at ease during this oftentimes overwhelming shopping experience.

While you and your sales staff do not need to memorize every spec of every piece of furniture on the showroom floor, it is important for all sales associates to be confident in their general knowledge of product categories. The most effective furniture sales associates are also current on the latest design trends, and they understand how certain furniture materials and features contribute to the comfort and durability of a piece.

 

  1. Be friendly and personable

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Regardless of how much a sales team knows about the products they are selling, customers are more likely to make a purchase from someone who is friendly and easy to talk to. Personable salespeople are able to educate customers while building rapport and trust during the shopping experience. A friendly demeanor also helps customers relax and feel more comfortable asking questions. This type of relationship and knowledge-building can generate one-time sales and increase the likelihood that customers will return for repeat purchases.

 

  1. Focus on customer service

Combining product knowledge with the right attitude is the key to great customer service, which is necessary in an industry full of businesses offering competitive pricing, similar products, and flexible financing. While the goal of all retailers is to convince potential buyers to spend cash in their stores, the most successful furniture businesses generate sales by making customer service the focus of their entire operation.

In a customer-first furniture store, trained and friendly employees greet everyone who walks through the door with a genuine smile and a simple inquiry such as “What brought you in today?” The goal of all sales associates should be to serve customers by actually listening to their needs and providing knowledgeable advice without using high-pressure sales tactics.

It’s also important to remember that customer service in the furniture industry starts on the sales floor and extends to management and operations teams who deliver products to homes and follow up on their customers’ experiences. Successful furniture companies value and actively seek out feedback from their customers so that they can continually improve the products and services they offer.

 

  1. Leave a lasting impression

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Of course, not every person who walks into a furniture store is going to leave with a new piece for their home. Regardless of whether a sale is made, however, it’s important that customers return to their cars satisfied with the overall experience they had while in the store.

In addition to offering great face-to-face service, retailers can leave a lasting impression by engaging customers with interactive room planning software and other tech-driven tools. Providing customers with a bottle of water, a cup of coffee, or sweet treat can also increase the likelihood that they’ll return to a store or recommend it to their friends and family.