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Traditional Marketing Actually Matters in the New Digital Age

While it’s important for today’s furniture retailers to market via social media and other digital channels, doing so should not come at the expense of traditional marketing efforts. Of course, most prospective customers are spending a significant amount of time online, but they are still reading the newspaper, watching television, and tuning into the radio. In fact, the average person spends 112 minutes each day listening to the radio and five hours each day in front of the TV. Also, while online and satellite radio services are increasingly popular, more than 90 percent of Americans still listen to AM/FM stations and all of the advertising they broadcast.

People are also exposed to visual advertising each day when they drive past billboards on their way to work and return home to find flyers and brochures in their mailboxes. It’s true that the ways people consume information have changed, but the types of advertising and promotion that worked prior to the digital age are still effective at spreading a brand’s message among potential customers. The fact that radio, television, and print media remain an integral part of most people’s daily routines is exactly why furniture retailers should continue to include these channels in their marketing campaigns. Read on to learn more about traditional marketing methods and find out how you can make them work for your business.

 

Traditional Marketing Channels for Furniture Retailers

Direct mail and printed ads—In a largely brick-and-mortar industry like furniture retail, direct mail can be very effective at generating sales. This is particularly true of small retailers that rely on local customers to remain in business. Flyers, brochures, and even postcards are especially useful for advertising in-store events and other special offers.

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Direct mail is also perfect for delivering coupons, which are great tools for getting customers into a store. In a recent survey of furniture shoppers, 70 percent of respondents said that a coupon or ad delivered to their mailbox had led them to take action on a purchase within the last year.

While the main goal of direct mail campaigns is to increase store traffic, they also work for retailers looking to simply boost their brand awareness. In fact, studies have shown that brand recall is much higher among those who received direct mailers as opposed to digital advertisements sent via email.

 

Outdoor advertising—Falling under the category of out-of-home (OOH) advertising, billboards are common, hard-to-miss sights along highways and freeways across the United States. Like direct mail, billboards are strongly effective at promoting brand recall among those who notice them, and they are great tools for advertising sales, new product lines, and store grand openings.

Advancements in digital technology have led to billboards with giant LED screens that bring an advertising message to life using vivid colors and eye-catching movement. It’s also important to note that OOH advertising isn’t limited to billboards. To promote their store, furniture retailers can also use smaller signage on bus benches, public transport, and vehicles.

 

Radio and TV spots—Although radio and television advertisements are more expensive than other traditional marketing channels, they are also among the most effective. Retailers on a budget may want to forgo the TV commercials and opt instead for a radio ad, which is a more affordable option that still has the ability to reach a large number of people. While the exact figure varies among industries, radio advertisements have the ability to generate up to $17 in revenue for every dollar spent on the ad.

Despite the expense, the main benefit of advertising on television is that it gives retailers the ability to use sight, sound, and motion to showcase their products while attaching personality to their business. Consumers also trust TV commercials more than other forms of advertising, which is great for retailers looking to build credibility in their community.

 

Tips to Consider

Now that you know about the traditional marketing channels available to furniture retailers, how can you use them to spread your business’ message? Here are a few quick tips for creating an effective advertising campaign:

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  1. Target the right audience.

For direct mail campaigns, it’s important for retailers to understand their customer demographics and find ways to target those who will most likely come into their stores. Tools like the U.S. Post Office’s Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) program can be helpful in accomplishing this goal.

 

  1. Run multiple advertisements.

Whether it’s in a newspaper, on the radio, or on TV, a single advertisement alone isn’t very effective at attracting new customers. Running different ads simultaneously in several formats or running the same ad for an extended period will do a better job of boosting business awareness.

 

  1. Be creative.

Just because they’re labeled “traditional” doesn’t mean that billboard, print, radio, and TV ads should hold back on the creativity. Advertisements with eye-catching logos and designs, and well-crafted photos, videos, and ad copy will attract more attention and potentially more business.

 

  1. Reach out to the community.

Along with using creativity in the content of their advertisements, furniture retailers should be creative in the other ways they communicate their brand locally. Donating products for local contests and raffles or sponsoring sports teams, community groups, and/or events offers retailers the opportunity to fulfill marketing objectives while showing potential customers they are committed to their community.

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What You Should Know about Using Pinterest for Social Marketing

In the world of retail marketing, visual content is just as important as written content. In fact, it’s often more important. This is particularly true for product categories such as furniture. Next to the fashion and beauty industries, few areas of retail rely more on visual presentation to connect with consumers than home furnishings.

Within brick-and-mortar furniture stores, retailers use thoughtful visual merchandising to highlight each product’s best features and demonstrate how customers can use the items on the showroom floor in their own living spaces. Outside of physical stores, furniture retailers leverage visual advertising to draw customers into their shops. Despite the fact that many furniture retailers understand the important role that visual presentation plays in their advertising efforts, many are missing a great opportunity to spread their message even further through social media.

While almost all social media platforms support photo and video posts, few are as visually focused as Pinterest. And now that many consumers are actively using Pinterest to search for products and ideas, all furniture retailers should be thinking of ways to reach out to potential customers via the platform. Those who do so will find that Pinterest can be an ideal tool for showcasing their product offerings.

 

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Why Furniture Retailers Should Take Pinterest Seriously

Within the last several years, Pinterest has become one of the largest and fastest-growing social networks. The platform has over 200 million active monthly users. The visual nature of Pinterest has made it the go-to network for users to share and discover new interests. Through new features such as visual search and in-app purchases, the platform is also quickly becoming a preferred shopping tool for many social media users, including a large number of millennials who are on Pinterest more than any other age group. According to recent statistics, Pinterest is the top shopping platform among millennials. Over 55 percent of all Pinterest users turn to the site to buy various items.

Even those who do not use the platform to directly buy products use it to plan purchases. In fact, a recent study found that 93 percent of people in the Pinterest community have used “pins” to plan purchases, and 87 percent reported that Pinterest pins have played a major role when they made purchasing decisions. What’s important for furniture retailers to note is that among the various topics available to browse on Pinterest, home decor is one of the most popular. People are now on Pinterest to not only find decorating and design ideas, but to also browse for and buy home decor products, including furniture.

 

Tips for Using Pinterest as a Marketing Tool

The good news for furniture retailers who are just getting started on Pinterest is that the platform is very easy to use. It has many of the same sharing and community-engagement features of other social networks. However, marketing on Pinterest requires a somewhat different approach than on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Following are few tips for retailers to consider.

 

  • Create a visual experience.

Anyone who has been on Pinterest knows that it is full of visual content. Furniture brands and retailers looking to make a marketing impact on the platform should focus on creating a visual experience with pins containing high-quality product photos. In addition to photos of the products themselves, it is also a good idea to pin “lifestyle” pictures that show products in a naturalistic home decor setting. These types of photos will also help users to find product photos via Pinterest’s visual search function, which supports approximately 600 million visual searches each month.

 

  • Don’t forget about searchable keywords.

Unlike other social media platforms, Pinterest is a powerful search engine that handles more than 2 billion searches on a monthly basis. A large number of Pinterest users even prefer the platform to traditional search engines such as Google. With so many people using the network to search for products and ideas, it’s critical for retailers to include keyword-focused pin descriptions alongside their product photos. Searchable descriptions should include trending keywords related to the featured product’s style and design, material, and/or function. It’s still important, however, to keep descriptions short and let the photos speak for themselves.

 

  • Use Pinterest’s specialized pins.

Pinterest offers several solutions for retailers to promote their products and drive traffic to their store website. The solutions include Promoted Pins, which are essentially paid Pinterest advertisements. According to Pinterest, over 60 percent of users have discovered new products or made purchases after seeing a Promoted Pin. Additionally, Pinterest reports that over 70 percent of users have said that Promoted Pins and other business content make the platform more helpful. Along with promoted advertising, retailers can take advantage of Rich Pins, which provide more context about a product, and Buyable Pins, which enable users to purchase products directly through the Pinterest page.

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How to Improve the Customer Experience in Furniture Retail

Furniture retail has taken a hit in recent years due to a slump in home buying and a significant decrease in spending on home furnishings. In fact, the home furnishings market has seen a 25-percent drop in consumer spending over the last 25 years. This reduced spending correlates with a decline in homeownership among younger adults. In the mid-1970s, over half (52 percent) of adults 24 to 34 years of age owned a home. Today, less than a third (29 percent) of adults in that age group are homeowners. Renters and those living with family are less likely to invest in home furnishings, and this has negatively affected many furniture retailers’ bottom line.

Despite these trends, it appears that furniture retailers are approaching the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Retail spending as a whole is improving, and the furniture market is poised to experience a boost in sales as more young people start to buy homes. The huge Millennial generation, which is projected to comprise 73 million people by 2019, is now the largest group of homebuyers. More young people buying homes is good news for furniture retailers, but it doesn’t guarantee that customers will start pouring through store doors and dropping large sums of money.

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Industry experts have been providing retailers with guidance on how to increase and improve store visits. Although e-commerce dominates other areas of retail, the furniture industry is still a brick-and-mortar business that relies heavily on in-store purchases. Business leaders in the industry must stay focused on making their stores successful if they want to take advantage of upcoming opportunities. The following provides an overview of suggestions for retailers to improve the overall shopping experience and, in turn, secure more sales.

 

Integrate Technology into Shopping Experiences

Although many consumers still prefer to shop for furniture in-person, retailers should not overlook technology’s ability to attract customers and make it easier for them to find the products they want. At the most basic level, all furniture retailers should have a well-designed website that provides engaging content to hold the attention of prospective customers. Such a website serves as a digital storefront where customers can find product images and descriptions along with reviews and other resources that will make it easier for them to decide on a purchase once they are inside the store.

Beyond an informative and easy-to-use website, retailers can enhance the in-store experience by integrating useful technologies into the store layout. Kiosks with apps that provide customer reviews and shopping guides can build customer confidence and direct them to the items they are looking for. Offering augmented reality (AR) capabilities on store kiosks, apps, and websites is another way to improve furniture shopping. AR gives customers the opportunity to see how an item of furniture will look in their home and/or next to other pieces before they make a purchase. Although AR technology requires a significant initial investment, it can lead to more sales after customers virtually “try out” the furniture.

 

Improve Retail Floor Design

While optimizing store layout is important for all retailers, it is even more critical in the furniture industry. The showroom floor is where store managers can display complementary products and encourage customers to purchase a set of items rather than just a single piece. It also gives retailers the opportunity to show off big-ticket items and create displays featuring products found on the store website.

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To make the most of their retail space, storeowners should display product groupings designed for both small and large living spaces. Retailers can take it one step further by customizing their displays with those items that customers in the local neighborhood are looking to buy. This type of segmentation requires research, but it can also lead to increased sales and improved inventory management. Regardless of the products on display, it’s important to have a clean, uncluttered showroom floor that customers can easily navigate from the front to the back of the store.

 

Don’t Forget the Basics

Certain store improvements may be impossible for some business owners to implement, but all furniture retailers can do a few basic things to enhance their customers’ shopping experiences. In addition to following the above tips for a better store layout, retailers should make it a point to thoroughly train their employees. Managers and sales teams with in-depth knowledge of the products they are selling can educate customers and help them find what they need. This type of quality service can increase sales and help establish long-term customer relationships.

Along with investing in their employees, all furniture retailers need to understand their market. Running a successful furniture store requires good advertising and wise product selection, but neither of these can be accomplished without understanding the customer base. Market knowledge also informs product pricing and helps ensure retailers can offer the value and personalized attention that will help them remain competitive.

An Insider’s Guide to the Las Vegas Market – What You Need to Know

lasvegasmarketlogoFurniture and home decor professionals from across the country gather at the biannual Las Vegas Market to see the latest styles and trends in home furnishings and interior design. The expansive market features more than 4,000 brands across over 5.4 million square feet of showroom space. In addition to furniture for all rooms in the home, the products on display include bedding, textiles, housewares, floor coverings, lighting, and wall décor.

The 2018 Summer Las Vegas Market takes place July 29 through August 2. Organizers of the five-day event are looking to build on the success of the 2018 Winter Market, which saw a record number of buyers and suppliers in attendance. Those planning to take part in the event can plan ahead so that they know what to expect when they get to Las Vegas. Check out this quick guide for valuable information about the Las Vegas Market.

 

Registration Details

The Las Vegas Market is free to attend. Registration for the event, however, is limited to those who work in the home furnishings, gift, and design trades. This includes furniture retailers and manufacturers, interior decorators, architects, and product distributors.

In addition to government-issued photo identification, all attendees are required to provide proof-of-trade documents to show that they are a member of the home furnishings and/or design industries. Las Vegas Market officials accept business cards and business licenses as well as previous Market purchase orders/invoices to establish proof-of-trade status.

Although guests are welcome to register for the Market at the on-site registration tent, event organizers recommend that attendees register online prior to their arrival. Those who register before the show can pick up their badges using scan-and-go kiosks at the registration tent and select partner hotels (Aria and the Golden Nugget).

 

Where to Stay

The Summer Las Vegas Market is partnering with over two dozen Las Vegas properties to provide attendees with special hotel rates for booking dates from July 28, 2018, to August 2, 2018. Depending on where one stays, daily rates at the partner hotels range from $28 to $270.

Attendees can choose to stay on the Las Vegas Strip or at one of the off-strip partner hotels, including Marriott Las Vegas, Springhill Suites, and Signature at MGM. Available properties also include non-gaming hotels such as Hilton Grand Vacations Club, Mandarin Oriental, and Elara.

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The Best Way to Get Around

To save on airfare, those flying into Las Vegas can book a flight with one of the Las Vegas Market’s partner airlines. Partners include WestJet, Air Canada, and United Airlines. Copa Airlines and Delta Air Lines are also offering discounted airfare for event attendees. Available discounts include rates up to 15 percent off the regular price.

After arriving in Las Vegas, Market attendees can rent a car or choose from other available transportation options, including taxis and on-demand car services such as Lyft and Uber. Low-cost shuttles from McCarren International Airport to Las Vegas hotels are also available. Attendees staying at select host hotels can also take advantage of complimentary shuttles to and from Las Vegas Market every morning, afternoon, and evening of the event.

 

Making the Most of the Market Experience

With so much to see and do at the Las Vegas Market, it can be difficult for both first-time and experienced attendees to know where to start. Fortunately, the Las Vegas Market offers numerous tools and resources to make it easier to plan for and explore the event.

The Market Planner is a new digital tool that allows attendees to create and save custom itineraries outlining the sessions they want to experience and the exhibitors they want to meet. Available for iPhone and Android devices, the Las Vegas Market app is another valuable attendee resource. The app, which is updated prior to each Las Vegas Market, includes floor plans, an exhibitor directory, seminar schedules, and a listing of available dining options.

Along with digital tools, Las Vegas Market offers a variety of print publications to help attendees get the most out of their visit. Available publications include the comprehensive Market Resource Guide, the Designer’s Guide to Las Vegas Market, Pavilions Magazine, and the First Look style guide, which highlights the top new trends and products featured at the Market.

 

Things to Do Afterhours

After a long day of exploring products and attending seminars, Market attendees can unwind at on-site happy hour bars or the spacious Grand Plaza Courtyard, which offers refreshments each evening of the event. Off the Market grounds, a number of fun activities are available for those who want to enjoy local attractions. Market organizers suggest side trips to the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory, the Neon Museum Boneyard, and the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts. More information about what to see and do during the Las Vegas Market is available at www.lasvegasmarket.com.

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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.

 

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  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.

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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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.

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4 of the Best Questions to Ask Prospective Furniture Buyers

Thoughtful, open-ended questions are a very important aspect of the sales process. Not only do they provide retail associates with the information they need to help shoppers find furnishings that meet their needs and aesthetic tastes, but they also help them establish a trusting rapport with customers. As such, sales professionals must learn to pose questions that are effective at gleaning new information, efficiently constructed to make the most of customers’ time, and appropriate for the situation at hand in order to learn the current desires, challenges, and limitations shaping a customer’s shopping experience.

To ask effective probing and qualifying questions, you must arm yourself with a thorough knowledge of your companies’ inventories, policies, financing offerings, marketing campaigns, warranties, and delivery services. You must also draw on a knowledge of broader factors, such as furniture industry trends and the recent activities of competing firms, that contribute to successful sales. Once you are confident that you can transform customers’ stated wants and needs into an effective, individualized selling strategy, you can begin using the following questions to learn exactly what your clients are looking for:

  1. How do you feel about your current furniture?

While your approach to this question may vary depending on what type of furniture the customer is looking for, it is generally a good idea to find out why a prospective buyer has decided to shop for new home furnishings. This will help you begin to match the customer’s needs to the potential solutions your company offers.

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If a customer is replacing a specific piece, it is vital that you find out what he or she currently likes and dislikes about it. This will allow you to conduct your sales pitch more efficiently, skipping over the products with features that your shopper has already expressed distaste for. Moreover, asking this question can also give you a better sense of a customer’s urgency. For example, an individual who is shopping to replace a broken bed is likely planning to make a purchase much sooner than someone who is searching for ideas for an upcoming room redesign.

If a customer is simply adding a piece to an existing ensemble, then gaining knowledge about the present layout, function, and aesthetic feel of the other pieces in his or her home will enable you to suggest products that will integrate well with his or her current home furnishings. This is also a great opportunity to learn whether a purchase is part of a larger redesign or renovation, which can provide you with further opportunities to offer guidance on a shopper’s broader home-design efforts.

  1. What qualities in a new piece of furniture are important to you?

Open-ended questions such as this help you convey your genuine interest in each customer’s unique situation. People’s answers will undoubtedly vary based on the type of furniture that they are shopping for, but these responses will be a valuable resource as you plan and prioritize your sales strategy.

Some customers might be primarily concerned with comfort, while others might be seeking the latest designs by a renowned luxury brand. Additionally, individuals could be looking for a piece that is likely to last them several years or is accompanied by a highly competitive warranty.

Oftentimes, customers aren’t quite sure which qualities they value the most in a furniture purchase. In this situation, it might be appropriate to move away from open-ended questions and ask customers whether specific factors—such as brand or durability—play a role in their buying decisions.

  1. What other stores and products have you considered?

You may hesitate to ask customers about their previous interactions with other retailers because you don’t want to pry unnecessarily or remind shoppers about the competitor down the street. However, your customers are surveying the products in your store because other options have not yet won them over. By showing an interest in a customer’s full furniture-shopping experience—not just his or her opinions on the items in your store—you will further communicate your commitment to helping him or her find the ideal product while equipping yourself with more valuable information that you can use to fine-tune your sales strategy.

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If you have taken the time to educate yourself about competitors’ offerings, then you can draw on information about a customer’s earlier shopping experiences to provide comparable recommendations from your own inventory. Asking this question lets you learn what customers did and did not like about other retailer’s product offerings. Moreover, it provides you with a jumping-off point from which to compare and contrast competitors’ products with the unique value your own firm offers.

  1. What are your thoughts on the price of this piece?

A shopper’s budget plays a significant role in determining his or her comfort level with a potential purchase. Most consumers don’t purchase relatively expensive items like furniture very often, and the price tag on a major purchase such as a couch or bed has the potential to stall the sales process when it deviates too drastically from the price a shopper hopes to pay.

Budgetary restrictions are one of the most frequently encountered obstacles to a successful sale, yet it can be difficult to ask about a customer’s financial situation without seeming pushy or intrusive. Therefore, you must find a way to integrate this topic into the conversation in a natural, considerate manner. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to ask how a prospective buyer feels about the price of a piece that you are currently discussing. This allows the customer to provide insight into his or her furniture budget without feeling pressured to set a specific minimum or maximum price point. It also helps you gain a better understanding of shoppers’ financial limitations without seeming overzealous or intrusive.

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3 of the Best Strategies for Marketing to Furniture Shoppers

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

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

  1. Consider Emotional Intelligence

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Maximize Your Digital Space

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

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

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

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

  1. Optimize the In-Store Experience

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

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

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The Best Ways to Encourage and Reward Customer Loyalty

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

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

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

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

  1. Understand the value of loyal customers.

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

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

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

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

  1. Identify your super-users.

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

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

  1. Study the rise of the membership economy.

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

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

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

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

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