furniture

Top Reasons for Ashley Furniture’s Amazing Success

AshleyFurnitureAlthough there are a number of major players in the US furniture market, Ashley Furniture stands out from the rest. The American furniture manufacturer and retailer has a history dating back to 1945, but the company’s rise to the top of the industry began in 1970 when current chairman Ron Wanek launched a small furniture manufacturing operation in Arcadia, Wisconsin. Since then, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., has grown to become an international company operating in more than 120 countries around the world.

In addition to its role as the world’s largest furniture manufacturer, the company is also the largest furniture retailer in North America. The first Ashley HomeStore opened its doors in 1997, and two decades later, Ashley celebrated the opening of its 700th store location. Today, Ashley HomeStores bring in $3.8 billion in annual sales, nearly twice as much as its closest competitor.

The success of Ashley Furniture and its growth from a relatively unknown brand into a household name are not simply the result of good fortune. Ashley’s commitment to being the best furniture company in the world drives its success and continues to shape its daily operations.

Here’s a look at what makes Ashley Furniture a dominant industry leader:

 

Quality Products

From day one, Ashley Furniture Industries has focused on providing customers with top-quality home furnishings. The company’s manufacturing process begins with skilled engineers and designers who travel worldwide to find the latest trends, materials, and technologies. Then, every material and design is tested in Ashley’s state-of-the-art physical testing labs to ensure that it meets the company’s quality standards.

Ashley Furniture’s manufacturing practices and technologies ensure that each product produced is in line with the company’s goal to offer customers exceptional out-of-the-box quality at an affordable price. Ashley also partners with best-in-class suppliers and strives to hire disciplined and committed employees to keep quality at the heart of everything it does.

The company’s focus on operational and manufacturing excellence also supports its efforts to provide stylish, durable furnishings for the entire home. Today, Ashley customers can choose from items across 19 product categories, including bedroom, outdoor, home office, and entertainment.

kitchen

 

Commitment to Efficiency

As part of its mission to improve quality, reduce costs, and increase business, Ashley Furniture works toward continuous improvement by employing innovative production equipment and lean manufacturing principles at its US facilities in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi. The company’s patented assembly methods and streamlined systems support the Ashley team of manufacturing workers as they produce over 50,000 units each day.

Ashley’s commitment to efficiency extends from the factory floor to every area of the supply chain. In 1972, Ron Wanek established Ashley Logistics to manage the transportation and delivery of the company’s products. The Ashley fleet now comprises over 800 vehicles and 3,500 trailers that enable the company to move and deliver more than 30 million pieces of furniture each year. The fleet utilizes an advanced dispatch and routing system that ensures on-time delivery to customers in nearly every part of North America. Ashley is capable of delivering products to US customers in two days or less, a service that no other furniture company in the country can match.

In addition to speeding up production and delivery, Ashley’s efficient manufacturing processes and delivery systems translate into savings for customers. Providing customers with quality products on time and at an exceptional value is in line with the company’s growth-focused efforts to not only stay in business, but also increase profitability over the long term.

bedroom

 

Focus on People and Community

With the understanding that any company is only as good as its employees, Ashley Furniture invests in its people through job skills training and management coaching, as well as direct communication and support. Once a person accepts a position with Ashley, he or she receives job-specific training in manufacturing, distribution, and logistics. All employees have the opportunity for continued professional development as they work toward higher levels of leadership within the company.

Those who attain leadership positions at Ashley continue to develop their professional competencies through the Wanek School of Business Leadership. Ashley leaders take part in online learning and classroom education programs while taking on challenging job assignments that sharpen their skills. Throughout the process, they also receive feedback, personal coaching, and mentoring from other experienced Ashley leaders. All these activities support ongoing employee improvement.

Along with investing in its employees, Ashley Furniture gives back to the communities it serves. The company supports local economies and contributes millions of dollars each year to national charities and nonprofit groups, including City of Hope, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the American Heart Association. Ashley also supports local education programs serving students from grade school through college. Ashley’s work in the community is part of its efforts to make a positive impact while advancing its business goals as North America’s furniture leader.

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summer

A Complete Guide to the Latest Trends in Outdoor Living

As the weather becomes warmer and the days get longer, people across the country have begun to retreat to the outdoors for fresh air and relaxation. For many, porches and patios have become the preferred living areas for eating, lounging, and spending time with the family. Those looking to get the most out of their outdoor living spaces are incorporating outdoor furniture and accessories that combine style and functionality while emphasizing comfort. Read on for an overview of the latest trends in outdoor living.

Bringing the Indoors Outside

Long gone are the days of white plastic chairs and green cast iron. Many people now view their patio or deck as an extension of their indoor living rooms, and they are buying outdoor furniture to create a polished look that has been traditionally reserved for interior spaces.

With so many people looking to bring the indoors outside, furniture manufacturers are offering a variety of fabrics, furniture, and accessories that can withstand everything from brisk spring rainstorms to sweltering summer heat waves. These weather-friendly options make it easy for anyone to decorate outdoor spaces according to their taste.

furniture

 

Fire Features

Cozying up around the fire is relaxing regardless of the season, which is why more people are beginning to design their outdoor living areas with fire features in mind. Propane-fueled fire pits and fire tables are now available in a range of styles that can adapt to a variety of spaces. Many homeowners are also choosing to install propane or wood-burning fireplaces to create a cozy ambiance and extend the amount of time they can spend outdoors.

 

A Focus on Comfort

Due to modern innovations in furniture materials, many patio sofas and chairs today are just as comfortable as indoor pieces. An effort to make the outdoors even more relaxing is driving the trend of using oversized cushions and a variety of fluffy pillows that can be mixed and matched to fit with any design scheme. Hammocks, outdoor daybeds, swings, and hanging chairs are also popular options for people who want to nap, read, and relax in comfort while enjoying the outdoors

 

Darker Hues and Fun Patterns

While bright colors are always popular in outdoor living spaces, a preference for outdoor furniture featuring dark colors and deep hues is on the rise. Along with deep purple and blue hues, black, brown, and shades of grey are among the dominant fabric colors for outdoor sofas and chairs. Green is also making a comeback as a popular color in outdoor design. To add some vibrancy to the dark palette, many people are using patterned throw pillows and accessories throughout their patios and decks.

couch

 

Use Accessories to Complete the Look

Completing the look of your outdoor living space requires more than just a few pieces of furniture covered in fluffy cushions and pillows. Today’s trend toward blurring the lines between outdoor and indoor spaces is all about the details. In addition to coffee tables, stools, and ottomans, popular finishing design touches include candles, rugs, and centerpiece bowls.

Lanterns, candles, and outdoor string lighting are also among the functional accessories that people are incorporating into their outdoor design schemes. Manufacturers even offer waterproof chandeliers and table lamps for those seeking to bring interior design elements outside.

 

Embracing Coastal Vibes

Another trend in outdoor living emphasizes a vacation vibe. Those looking to capture the feel of their favorite resort are combining shell-shaped accessories and sea-themed prints with furniture featuring sand tones and cool coastal colors.

Bold cabana-style stripes also feature prominently in many outdoor furniture collections. Teak sling chairs, woven stripe patterns, and bright umbrellas are all available to complete the look for anyone who wants to relive their last beach vacation every time they relax on their patio, porch, or lanai.

patio

 

Mixed Materials and Retro Looks

Rattan and wicker-inspired furniture that was popular decades ago is making a comeback, but today’s consumer prefers vintage-style pieces with a contemporary flair. While more difficult to manufacture, pieces that combine contrasting materials such as metal and wood offer the design detailing that many people are looking for in outdoor furniture. Woven pieces featuring non-traditional colors and design features are also on-trend among those who want to combine a vintage look with pieces that are more modern.

 

Multifunctional Pieces for Greater Flexibility

When warm weather arrives, many people use their outdoor spaces for dining, socializing, and entertaining. An area that serves this purpose requires multifunctional pieces that do not compromise style or comfort.

To meet the demand for greater flexibility in outdoor living, furniture manufacturers are adding wheels to furniture and accessories and creating large patio sets that can be easily rearranged to fit a variety of situations. Adjustable outdoor sectionals alongside tables and stools with built-in storage are the perfect options for those who need to be ready to change the configuration of their outdoor space at a moment’s notice.

furniture

This Is What Is Happening Right Now in Furniture Manufacturing

Over the last several years, the furniture and home furnishings industry in the United States has enjoyed steady growth, thanks to an improving economy that has given consumers more disposable income. Growth in the industry began in 2009, and the latest figures show that it is likely to continue for at least the near future. Retail experts project that US furniture sales will experience a 3 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach $122 billion by 2020. Globally, the furniture and flooring market is forecast to reach $695 billion by 2019.

Of course, the projected growth in the industry has furniture retailers, distributors, and manufacturers optimistic, but industry professionals are also facing new challenges that are changing how they approach furniture design and marketing. It’s important for furniture manufacturers in particular to stay on top of the latest industry trends so that they can create products that will satisfy retailers and, ultimately, consumers.

To satisfy consumers, manufacturers must be aware of their demographics, lifestyle choices, and buying preferences. These factors help shape the industry by influencing how furniture is made and sold. Read on for an overview of what’s happening in the furniture industry and how it affects the work of manufacturers.

 

Millennials Are Driving the Market

While the furniture market also comprises generation Xers, baby boomers, and seniors, the majority of today’s furniture shoppers are millennials. As one of the largest groups of homebuyers in the United States, the generation spends billions on furniture and bedding each year. In addition to changing the way that retailers market their furniture, millennials are affecting how and what type of furniture is manufactured.

The generation prefers modern pieces with unique designs and tech-friendly features to the more traditional furniture that their parents likely own. Also unlike their parents, many millennials value affordability over durability and aren’t overly concerned with how long a specific piece will last. The generation prefers decorative, disposable furniture that they can use for 10 years or less before replacing it with something else. Manufacturers are meeting this demand by using materials and design processes that enable them to balance quality with affordability.

 

furniture

 

Quicker Delivery Is in High Demand

Along with affecting how much they’re willing to pay for a new piece, millennials’ and other modern consumers’ attitudes toward furniture affects how long they are willing to wait for furniture they’ve purchased. This demand for quick delivery is leading many furniture manufacturers to streamline their operations.

According to the results of a 2018 industry survey, American upholstered furniture manufacturers consider reducing delivery times to be one of their most pressing challenges. To do this, more manufacturers are using technologies such as computer numerically controlled cutting (CNC) machines during the manufacturing process. Implementing better employee-training practices is also part of many manufacturers’ plans to speed up the time it takes them to deliver their products to market.

 

More Consumers Are Renting

Home sales may be increasing nationwide, but a large percentage of Americans are still renters. In fact, a recent report from the Pew Research Center showed that over 36 percent of households rented in 2016.

Although there are various reasons as to why a person may choose to rent over owning a home, money is a common factor. With less money to spend, many renters are similar to other modern consumers in valuing affordable furniture. Some renters are also tight on space, leading them to seek smaller and/or multipurpose pieces for their homes. Smart manufacturers today are creating inexpensive, streamlined furniture that appeals to the country’s large population of budget- and space-conscious renters.

 

Online Retail Continues to Grow

The growth of online retail continues to provide new opportunities for both furniture sellers and furniture manufacturers. Companies on the manufacturing side of the industry now have the ability to sell to retailers that aren’t limited to a specific geographic area. Some manufacturers are also increasing their efforts to create innovative furniture pieces that ship easily. This includes ready-to-assemble furniture, which is experiencing a revival in popularity in the United States. Despite the increase in furniture e-commerce, however, most furniture buyers still prefer to shop in-store.

 

ecommerce

 

Retailers Are Catering to Environmentally Conscious Shoppers

A growing demand for sustainable products is leading many furniture retailers to carry eco-friendly pieces in their showrooms. Like many other market trends, millennials are driving the interest in green furniture, but people of all ages are looking for ways to decrease their carbon footprint.

Furniture manufacturers may have different definitions of what constitutes sustainable furniture, but for most, it includes pieces that use recycled and/or responsibly sourced materials, such as certified wood and natural fabrics. Sustainable furniture is also created using efficient manufacturing practices that reduce the company’s water and energy usage. Many of today’s furniture manufacturers focus on the green furniture market as part of a business strategy to increase profits while protecting the planet.

 

wood desk

Here Are the Top Things to Know about Furniture Woods

When looking for a new piece of furniture, most people will purchase an item that contains at least some wood. In addition to being the most popular material for tables, desks, and bookshelves, wood is the foundation of nearly every other type of furniture, including sofas, loveseats, and recliners. Even if it’s not visible on the exterior of a piece, wood is most likely providing interior support alongside other structural materials.

Wood has always played an important role in the home furnishings industry, but the variety of wood choices available today can seem overwhelming. To help you make an informed decision the next time you go furniture shopping, check out this quick guide to furniture woods.

 

Why Choose Wood Furniture?

One of the main reasons that wood is such a great furniture material is because it is naturally strong. A piece made of either hardwood or softwood can last a very long time with little maintenance or upkeep aside from occasional waxing, polishing, and oiling. The durability of wooden furniture makes it a smart investment for those looking to furnish their home with quality products. Wood is also available in a variety of types, styles, and finishes that can easily fit in with any design scheme.

Additionally, wood is a renewable furniture material that can be produced with very little impact on the environment. Many wooden pieces also contain recycled materials, which makes them the perfect option to consider if you are interested in sustainable furniture.

 

wood chair

 

Getting to Know Hardwoods and Softwoods

All solid wood products can be divided into one of two categories: hardwood or softwood. The tree from which the wood originates determines its classification. Hardwoods come from leaf-bearing (deciduous) trees, and softwoods are sourced from cone-bearing (coniferous) trees. While it is common to assume that the terms hardwood and softwood refer to a wood’s strength and density, this is not necessarily the case. Some hardwoods, like balsa, are actually soft and lightweight, and some softwoods, like pitch pine, are actually very heavy and dense. In most cases, however, hardwoods have a higher density than softwoods due to their cellular structure.

 

Furniture Hardwoods

Because they are very strong and durable, hardwoods are often used in high-quality furniture pieces. Hardwoods also come in a variety of colors and natural patterns that are very visually appealing and unique to the tree from which they came. The major downside to purchasing hardwood furniture is its price, but the higher cost is well worth it for many people. Here are some of the hardwoods most commonly used in furniture:

Oak—With roughly 60 species in the United States, oak is an abundant hardwood that is valued for its strength and prominent grain patterns. The two varieties (red oak and white oak) range in color from yellow to light pinkish-brown. Oak is used in all types of furniture, but it is very common in pieces made in the Mission style.

Maple—One of the hardest hardwoods, maple resists warping and shrinking and holds up to heavy use. The light-colored wood is usually beige or tan with a straight, even grain pattern that sometimes gives way to curls or waves. Maple is an excellent wood for dressers, cabinets, butcher blocks, and other heavy-use items.

Walnut—Walnut is a dark hardwood that features a straight grain pattern that is most striking when clear-coated or oiled. The wood also carves easily, making it an excellent choice for decorative furniture like cabinets, headboards, mantels, and antique-style tables.

 

wood chair

 

Furniture Softwoods

Although softwoods aren’t typically as dense as hardwoods, they can be just as long-lasting. In fact, softwood furniture can even last longer than hardwoods in some environments. The most common softwoods used in furniture include the following:

Pine—Lightweight and affordable, pine is a common material in modern furniture. There are many different species of pine, but most share the same pale-yellow or light-brown color. Pine is also easily recognizable due to the dark knots and physical growth rings that stand out on its surface. The wood is perfect for rustic furniture, but it can be painted to fit in with all types of décor.

Cedar—Although it is light and brittle, cedar is a durable wood that is often used to make drawers, chests, and closets because it has a distinctive scent that repels moths and other insects. This light-red softwood is also resistant to moisture and decay, so it works well for picnic tables and other outdoor furniture.

Redwood—Like cedar, redwood has weather-resistant properties that make it perfect for use in the outdoors. It is especially well suited for patio tables and chairs, but redwood can also be used indoors for Western-style beds and other rustic pieces.

 

Other Wooden Furniture Products

In addition to solid wood, many modern furniture pieces use composite wood materials such as plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF). While these products are manmade, they are still composed of actual wood that is bonded together and pressure treated. Plywood, MDF, and other engineered wood products are both affordable and eco-friendly. Most often, they are used on the backs and interiors of furniture, but some bookshelves and other budget-friendly pieces are made entirely out of these materials.

letters

How to Connect with Customers through Personalized Emails

Using modern marketing channels to reach out to customers is a good practice for any business in retail, particularly furniture sales. In addition to costing much less than many traditional marketing strategies, digital approaches such as SMS messaging and email campaigns are very effective. In fact, email is still one of the most effective marketing tools any business can use to reach customers across all demographics, including the sometimes-persnickety millennials.

Although using email communication is an affordable and effective strategy, business owners and marketers must find a way to stand out among the dozens of daily emails their customers often receive. This is where personalization comes in. Personalization is very important to today’s consumers, who have come to expect businesses to cater to their individual interests, needs, and wants.

e-mail

Despite the fact that most consumers are expecting a personalized experience, research shows that upwards of 70 percent of businesses owners are still failing to personalize their customer emails. Fortunately, delivering personalized email communications does not have to be complicated. Read on for an overview of effective personalization tactics that can increase email open rates and get more customers to shop in your store.

 

Start by Getting to Know the Customer

It is very difficult to personalize any marketing strategy without the right customer information. One way to learn more about those on an email subscriber list is through sign-up forms that ask for basic personal details as well as information about customers’ occupations, interests, and shopping habits.

Business owners can also learn more about their customers by following their online behavior. The email links they click on and the offers they sign up for can provide insight into their preferences. All of this information can then be used to segment an email list to send more personalized and targeted communications in the future.

When collecting data and personal details from customers, it is important to let them know that the information will be used to provide relevant offers and a more personalized experience. As concerns over data sharing continue to grow, more people are becoming cautious about signing up for offers that require certain information. Business owners who practice transparency build trust with customers and will have a better chance of collecting the info they need to operate a successful personalized campaign.

 

Address Recipients by Their Name

Every email sent to a customer should begin with a greeting that uses his or her first name. Thanks to email subscription forms, a customer’s first name is one of the easiest bits of information to gather. Also, most email services enable users to customize messages with a recipient’s name, so there is no reason not to use it. Starting a message with “Dear friend,” “Hello customer,” or another generic greeting will not encourage many people to read anything beyond the opening line.

 

Add Personalization to Subject Lines

Along with using first names in every email greeting, adding a name and other personalized info to the subject line is a surefire way to get more customers to open and read an email. In fact, recent studies have shown that a personalized subject line can increase email open rates by over 40 percent. More people reading an email means more people shopping for products and signing up for offers, which is the goal of any marketing campaign.

e-mail

Send Messages at the Right Time

Instead of sending out an email to an entire subscriber list at the same time, it is more effective to deliver messages when each recipient is most likely to read them. In many cases, there will be time zones to consider, along with other factors, that will help determine what time is best for customers. A/B testing and email marketing platforms can offer the data and other tools that business owners can use to customize delivery times for each person on their email list.

In addition to considering time zones and consumer habits, business owners should focus on sending timely messages that advertise current sales. Also, sending out emails about a seasonal or limited-time offer creates a sense of urgency, making recipients feel the need to act quickly to avoid missing out. Special personalized offers sent on customers’ birthdays are also very effective.

 

Don’t Forget to be Human

Email personalization works best when it is apparent that there is an actual human behind the message. Some of the easiest ways to do this include using a conversational tone and first-person pronouns throughout the email. Depending on the nature of one’s business, it might also be a good idea to send emails that include emojis to help a message seem more friendly and informal.

In addition, ending each message with the name and perhaps a photo of an actual person shows the reader that someone took the time to reach out to them personally. All messages should also include a reply-to email address so that customers can easily reach the company without having to search online for contact info.

employee engagement

Practical Advice on How to Improve Employee Engagement

Maintaining a positive, productive, and profitable workplace requires employees who are engaged in their job and committed to giving their best every day. Engaged employees work harder and are willing to go the extra mile because they feel connected to their company. In a retail environment, such as furniture sales, employees who are committed and dedicated to their work help to increase sales and annual revenues while promoting customer loyalty and satisfaction. Satisfied employees are also much less likely to leave their jobs. Reduced employee turnover means that furniture retailers can save on the significant costs associated with hiring and training new workers.

Despite the many benefits that come with employee engagement, many business owners are failing or simply not trying to cultivate an engaged workplace. In fact, recent research found that nearly 35 percent of the American retail workforce is disengaged from their jobs. Fortunately, retail business leaders who are interested in boosting engagement among their employees can find success by following a few simple tips.

 

employee

 

Make Communication and Positivity a Priority

Communication is a crucial aspect of business operations for companies of all sizes. Business leaders who communicate their expectations to each employee will have greater success in attaining overall company goals. In addition to providing clear guidance and instruction, prioritizing communication in the workplace also involves embracing transparency and accessibility. Retail employees who view managers and owners as another part of the team that is available to assist them will have a deeper sense of investment in their work and the company.

Focusing on positive communication and taking time out to thank employees for their work are other ways that business leaders can improve workplace morale and engagement. Overly critical work environments are stressful and prevent employees from speaking their minds. Supportive and positive workplaces, on the other hand, foster engagement and motivate employees to perform at their very best.

 

Hire and Provide Support for Strong Managerial Staff

Much of the responsibility for promoting employee engagement lies with managers. The most successful managerial staff members are those who want their people to succeed and will provide the support and guidance they need to do so. Effective managers also understand their employees’ strengths and value their contributions to the company.

When hiring from outside sources or promoting from within, business leaders should focus on finding managers who possess the leadership traits needed to improve engagement among workers. Providing ongoing coaching and holding managers accountable for employee engagement are keys to continued success. Research has shown that companies with supportive managerial staff have employees that are 67 percent more engaged than those at non-supportive organizations.

 

management team

 

Implement Recognition and Reward Programs

It should go without saying that an employee who feels respected and valued for his or her work will be more motivated to continue supporting the company’s goals. Offering a simple verbal “thank you” can go a long way in showing appreciation for outstanding employees, but managers and business owners can take things a step further by providing employee rewards and incentives.

Recognizing employees with a “Wall of Fame” board, an employee of the month party, or shout out on social media can all be part of a rewards program. In the furniture retail industry, employers can motivate associates with leaderboards for top sales or number of hours worked during a busy season. Offering employee discounts for outstanding work is another way that retailers can engage sales associates while making them feel valued.

 

Give Employees Room to Grow

The potential for internal growth plays an important role in driving employee engagement. Regardless of the type of work that one does, it is difficult to remain engaged when daily tasks never change. For this reason, business owners looking to attract and retain top talent should examine the growth opportunities they provide to potential and current employees.

Although managers often correlate growth opportunities with a salary increase or a new job title, many employees can get the same satisfaction from growing within their current position. Providing employees with training and new leadership opportunities can be all that is needed to increase their engagement and break up the monotony of their day-to-day work.

 

employee

 

Do Something outside of Work

Along with allowing a little time for fun in the workplace, business leaders can promote employee engagement by organizing social events. Social activities outside of work give employees the chance to interact and develop personal relationships with one another in a relaxed environment. When teams of workers enjoy each other’s company, they are often more productive professionally.

Employees’ personal schedules can sometimes make it difficult for everyone to attend any one event, so companies should try to organize several throughout the year. Activities can include a company softball tournament or barbecue, weekly happy hour, or an evening at a professional sports venue. Bringing employees and managers together for volunteer projects also provides a way to increase engagement while maintaining a positive presence in the local community.

child

A Focus on the Latest New Style Trends for Kids’ Rooms

When it comes to rooms for kids, creating a fun space that is also functional and stylish is often the goal. A space that can stand up to heavy use but incorporates design elements that promote creativity and imagination provide the perfect spot for the youngest members of the family to play, learn, and rest.

The latest style trends in kids’ rooms embrace function and frivolity in a way that is pleasing to both kids and adults. Recent trends also focus on comfort and sustainability while incorporating a design flexibility that makes it easy to adapt to a child’s changing needs and preferences. The following highlights some of the latest trends driving child-friendly furnishings and décor.

 

Neutral Shades and Colorful Accents

Often, few areas in the home are as colorful as a kid’s bedroom or playroom. While vivid colors are still in vogue, neutrals like white, beige, and gray have become very popular in children’s furniture and décor. Brightly colored dressers, tables, and bedding are being replaced by pieces in subtle green, pink, and blue hues.

The muted palette gives parents the opportunity to add striking pops of bright color using accent walls and decorative items. Combining neutrals with sophisticated vivid hues such as golden yellow provide an easy way to create fun-looking spaces that complement other rooms in the home.

 

playroom

 

Metallic Finishes

The use of gold, silver, copper, and other metal colors in interior design is a recent trend that continues to gain traction. Now, metallic design elements on lighting fixtures, walls, and furniture are finding their way into kids’ rooms.

Dressers and tables featuring metal accents are a particularly popular trend for 2018. Parents are also using metal headboards and full-metal beds to act as eye-catching centerpieces in their children’s bedrooms. Although metallic elements can complement all types of décor, the modern look of metal can be particularly helpful in creating a more mature look in rooms for older children and teens.

 

The Natural Beauty of Wood

While metal furniture and metallic finishes are gaining popularity, wood-based furnishings remain the top choice for kids’ rooms. One reason for this is that both solid and manufactured wood pieces are very durable and capable of holding up to bumps, scrapes, and rough handling. When the daily wear and tear begins to take its toll, parents can repair the pieces, often without much effort. Wooden furniture can also be repainted to fit a specific design scheme, making it particularly popular among do-it-yourselfers.

In addition to stained and painted wood pieces, unfinished natural furniture is also trending in kids’ rooms. More parents are starting to appreciate natural wood for its rustic appeal and purported health benefits.

 

child bedroom

 

Reusable Pieces

This year, many parents are passing over age-specific furniture for pieces that can grow with the child or fit into other areas of the home. The trend toward reusable furniture is particularly popular in nurseries. Instead of buying limited-use items such as changing tables, small bookshelves, and baby-themed décor, parents are investing in dressers, full-size furniture pieces, and neutral accessories that won’t be out of place in an older child’s room.

 

Sustainability

The rising popularity of natural and reusable kids’ furniture is part of a larger consumer trend driven by a concern for the environment. Many people today are looking to lessen their environmental impact by purchasing eco-friendly products, including sustainable furniture.

In addition to improving the health of the planet, sustainable furniture typically lacks the chemicals that some studies have linked to health issues in humans. Modern parents’ commitment to the environment and health of their families is also helping create a greater demand for natural textiles such as jute, cotton, and wool.

 

Staying Organized

As families with children already know, kids can be very messy. Finding a place for the various toys, clothes, and books in kids’ rooms is certainly not a new challenge. A recent trend to simplify one’s living space by getting rid of excess stuff is leading many parents to tackle the mess problem before it happens.

Parents are decluttering kids’ rooms so that they only contain essential items along with a few well-loved toys and accessories. Open storage spaces such as wall shelving and baskets are also trending in 2018. These solutions help kids’ rooms stay organized by making it easy for children to clean up.

 

toys

 

Getting Creative

Parents may be downsizing the number of items in their kids’ rooms, but they are not doing it by sacrificing creativity. Incorporating fantasy themes, creative ceiling designs, and playful furniture is all part of a trend to create fun bedrooms that promote imaginative play. Building hideaway spots and permanent forts is also part of the trend. Additionally, many parents are turning their kids’ beds into oversized toys by adding canopies, ladders, poles, and other playful design elements.

phone

8 of the Best Tips for Successful SMS Marketing

Marketing via short message service (SMS) offers furniture retailers and other business owners with the opportunity to send customers permission-based text messages highlighting upcoming sales, product promotions, and in-store events. In addition to providing a cost-effective way to reach customers, SMS marketing can help to generate leads and track consumer preferences.

One of the main reasons why SMS should be part of any business’ marketing strategy is the fact that so many people use text messaging on a daily basis. Outside of face-to-face conversation, texting is one of the most commonly used forms of communication in the United States.

The preference for communicating via text has led many US consumers to expect messaging from the businesses that they support. Consumers have also shown a willingness to read the messages that businesses send. In fact, the open rate of promotions and offers sent via text is approximately 98 percent. Compare that to the 22 percent of promotional emails that are read, and it’s easy to see why SMS marketing makes sense for retail businesses. Fortunately, launching an effective SMS campaign to boost your business’ success can be relatively simple with a few pieces of practical advice.

 

phone

 

  1. Respect Your Customer

It’s important for business owners to understand that sending business text messages to customers who have not agreed to receive them is not only bad form — it’s also illegal. You should respect potential customers and the law by ensuring that you invite users to opt into an SMS messaging list using an automated agreement form or another method. When someone agrees to receive messages, business owners can add another layer of transparency by sending a confirmation message that provides information detailing when and how often texts will be sent and what kind of content they’ll contain.

 

  1. Provide a Reason to Opt In

Recent surveys have found that approximately 90 percent of today’s consumers would like to use text messaging to communicate with businesses. Just because consumers are willing to use business messaging, however, does not mean that they’re ready to have their phones flooded with useless information. Offering value in the form of exclusive deals, purchase and delivery updates, and relevant news will provide users with motivation to opt in and even look forward to receiving business messages.

 

  1. Make It Easy to Unsubscribe

While this may seem counterintuitive, providing customers with an easy way to opt out of future messages is a good practice for any SMS campaign. Businesses that do their job of offering value-based messages will not likely see a large number of users opting out just because it’s easy to do so. Ensuring that subscribers have the ability to opt out is also required by law.

 

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  1. Don’t Waste Characters

Getting to the point quickly is important when you consider that each message must be limited to only 160 characters. Be sure to make every character count by using concise language to provide value and build customer relationships. Use short words whenever possible and ensure that the message leads with a compelling statement. Ultimately, the goal of SMS marketing is to motivate customers to act, so it’s also important to use some of the available characters for a direct call to action.

 

  1. Recognize the Importance of Timing and Frequency

In addition to being annoying, a text message sent in the middle of the night isn’t going to encourage many people to act on an offer. The most effective SMS campaigns use timely messages sent during regular business hours. It’s also important for business owners to manage the frequency of their messages so that users remain engaged, but not overloaded with updates and offers. One text per week is a good idea for most retail businesses.

 

  1. Focus on Personalization

The ability to personalize messages is one of the top benefits of SMS marketing. While texting already feels more personal than other forms of marketing communication, it can seem even more friendly when a person’s name and location are included in the message. Business owners can also use SMS to customize offers based on their customers’ buying habits and specific interests.

 

  1. Create a Sense of Urgency

Regardless of the content, personalization, and value of a message, there is no guarantee that customers will follow through when actually responding to an offer. Business owners can maximize the chances that they will be able to get people to do what they want by creating a sense of urgency within the message. One of the easiest ways to do so is by promoting an exclusive sale with a looming end date that is clearly communicated in the offer. Using links that send customers to a web page with a countdown timer can also create a sense of urgency.

 

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  1. Use Messaging to Increase Sales

The purpose of any SMS marketing campaign is to improve brand awareness and, ultimately, increase profits. One effective use of SMS messaging is referred to as an “abandoned cart reminder.” Retailers who conduct business online can send this type of message to customers who added items to their cart but did not follow through in actually buying them. Simply helping customers to complete a purchase via SMS can help business owners to improve their bottom line.

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Introducing What to See and Do at the 2018 Spring High Point Market

High Point MarketTwice a year, the nation’s home furnishings industry leaders visit High Point, North Carolina, to learn about the latest products and trends in home furniture and décor during the highly anticipated High Point Market. The biannual trade show features five days of education and networking activities for furniture retailers and manufacturers, designers, architects, and other professionals focused on home interiors.

Each High Point Market brings together more than 75,000 attendees for exhibits and presentations across 11.5 million square feet of show space. At the 2018 Spring Market, taking place April 14-18, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about thousands of new home furnishings products. Keep reading for a preview of what else guests will experience during the event.

 

A Focus on the Latest Trends

With tens of thousands of people on hand to learn about what’s next in the furnishings and interior design industry, High Point Market organizers put new and emerging trends at the center of the event’s programming. The 2018 Spring Market will highlight trends in luxury interiors, customizable and one-of-a-kind furniture, and eclectic design. Market programs will also focus on antique and reproduction décor along with eco-friendly and toxin-free home furnishings.

To help track the latest trends and hottest new looks on display, the High Point Market Style Spotters will be exploring showrooms throughout the event and sharing their top style and product picks online. Each year, eight fashion-forward designers make up the Style Spotters team; they host a panel discussion highlighting what attendees should look for at the Market. Following the discussion, which is dubbed Style Spotters Live, the designers will lead attendees on a tour of their favorite showrooms. At the 2018 Spring Market, Style Spotters Live will be held on the morning of Tuesday, April 17.

 

Professional Tips and Insights

Outside of the activities on specific styles and trends, Market attendees will have the opportunity to get tips and insights into how to grow their business and improve their professional knowledge and skills. Highlights of the Market’s professional learning activities will include the Design Viewpoints Series, a four-part seminar presented by the High Point Market Authority and the American Society of Interior Designers.

The 2018 Spring Design Viewpoints Series seminars will help design professionals learn how to develop legal contracts to protect their business interests and increase company profits through design fees. The Series will also include seminars on attracting new clientele and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

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Presentations from Business and Home Furnishings Leaders

Each High Point Market includes a number of presentations from top industry professionals and business experts. Market organizers offer the main presentations as part of the event’s keynote series, which features the people and ideas helping to advance the latest business and home furnishings trends.

Attendees at the 2018 Spring Market will hear from Trisha Yearwood, who will discuss her business ventures and tips for building brand awareness. The country singer and entrepreneur will address the Market audience while filming a special broadcast of her Facebook Live show, T’s Coffee Talk.

Alongside Yearwood, author and consumer futurist Doug Stephens will offer insight into how retail is changing and what business leaders can do to maintain and grow their customer base during the transformation. Following his keynote note on April 15, Stephens will host a book signing.

 

Hundreds of Exhibits

Many High Point attendees make the biannual trip to North Carolina to build new business relationships and see what the top companies in home furnishings and design are offering to industry professionals. Each year, more than 2,000 exhibiting companies show up at the Market to present their latest products and services.

Throughout the event, exhibitors host activities featuring food, entertainment, networking, and product introductions. The 2018 spring show will also feature a number of exhibitor-sponsored educational events, including workshops, seminars, and presentations.

 

Entertainment and Social Activities

To help attendees wind down after a long day of education and exhibits, High Point Market features a variety of social events. From early breakfasts and luncheons to evening receptions and cocktail parties, there are plenty of fun activities to enjoy each day of the Market. There are also a number of special events presented with support from exhibiting companies and the High Point Market Authority.

On Saturday and Sunday of the 2018 Spring Market, musical artists Con Brio and Lee Ann Womack will put on concerts for attendees as part of the Stars Under the Stars event. Con Brio will perform on Saturday, April 14, and Lee Ann Womack will take the stage Sunday evening. Free food and beverages will be provided at each concert, which will start at 7:30 pm.

In addition to the two performances, the spring show will feature Third Night, an exhibitor-sponsored gala with live music and themed showroom parties. The gala will be held at the Market’s Hamilton Wrenn Design District on the evening of April 16.

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Here’s How to Create Your Perfect Home Office

With nearly 4 million Americans working from home at least half of the time, blending one’s work and one’s living space is becoming increasingly common. Because of this, the home office has evolved from a glorified computer closet lined with a few books into an important and necessary space in many households.

Even those who don’t use their home as a remote workspace appreciate having an area to go to when it’s time to pay bills, send an e-mail, or help the kids with their homework. A home office is also the perfect place to hide away and delve into a new novel. Regardless of how a family uses the space, there are ways to improve the style, comfort, and functionality of a home office with minimal effort.

The following are some simple tips for creating the perfect at-home work area:

 

Start with the Necessities.

While specific needs and style preferences will vary from one person to the next, there are two items that virtually every home office needs: a desk and a chair. No matter how big the area is, these two pieces will serve as a design focal point and provide the main space in which people are likely to do most of their work.

To find a suitable desk, individuals should first consider how much room they have to work with. The next things to think about are functionality and style. If the desk’s main purpose will be to support computer-based activities, then it’s vital to find a piece with features such as built-in wiring holes and a CPU compartment. Those who will do a lot of printing will want to find a desk with storage or enough surface space to accommodate printing equipment, paper, and files.

Pairing the right desk with the perfect chair should really be more about comfort and support rather than aesthetics. Most people do the majority of their work from a sitting position. Therefore, it’s essential to find a chair with ergonomic features such as lumbar support, as well as adjustable armrests and seat height. It’s also a good idea to select a chair that rocks, bounces, tilts, or swivels, because these motions make it easier for people to sit for extended periods.

 

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Consider Personal Needs and Preferences.

When combining the right chair, desk, and office accessories, it’s important to ensure that the space reflects the user’s specific needs and preferences. Along with using paint and décor to improve the office design, incorporating functional pieces can add a bit of style while supporting productivity.

Floor and table lamps are appropriate for any home office, and they often come in a set to provide a tied-together look. Other accessories to consider include anti-fatigue mats, flexible footrests, and adjustable stools, all of which can make those long workdays less stressful on the body and thus, more productive.

Those who prefer to do some of their work from a standing position will find that today’s furniture manufacturers offer a variety of adjustable desks that users can lower and raise to make it easy to alternate between sitting and standing. Some desk options even offer programmable height settings and adjustable electric lifts.

 

Cut the Clutter with Organization and Tech-Friendly Designs.

An easy way to keep papers and other essential items organized is to strategically employ bookshelves, file cabinets, and lift-top coffee tables. Those with a smaller office space can combine hanging file folders and simple storage carts with creative solutions such as baskets, storage cubes, and floating shelves to ensure a clutter-free workspace.

In today’s tech-driven world, people need computers and other electronic devices to stay engaged and on top of work responsibilities. To keep one’s home office looking tidy, however, it’s important to keep any accompanying wires, cords, and accessories, such as chargers, organized and out of sight. This is easily accomplished by using wiring channels, multi-outlet surge protectors, or something as simple as a cable tie. Tech-friendly desks and end tables with built-in electrical outlets, USB ports, and cord compartments are also options for those looking to keep their workspace looking sleek, modern, and uncluttered.

 

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Keep the Space Flexible.

In addition to ensuring that there is a place for everything, individuals can maximize the space in their home office by embracing a flexible layout that they can easily reorganize to accommodate different work habits and positions. A flexible layout also makes it easier to add or remove furniture and accessories as needed.

For many people, their home office must also serve one or more purposes outside of providing an area for work. Incorporating multifunctional furniture pieces and seating arrangements offers a simple way to keep the space comfortable, functional, and adaptable to the needs of the entire family.