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:
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.
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.
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.
Be friendly and personable
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.
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.
Leave a lasting impression
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.