Business

business

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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pinterest

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.

speech

Your Complete Guide to the 2018 NEXT Conference

NEXTlogoThe time has come again for furniture retailers and other industry professionals to gather at the NEXT Conference, a three-day interactive forum focused on marketing, technology, and business strategies that can help them to earn repeat customers. The 2018 event will take place from September 24-26 at Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas. In addition to prominent speakers in the area of retail, marketing, and consumer relations, the 2018 NEXT Conference will feature a range of educational sessions and networking events to help attendees enhance their professional knowledge and skills while making new connections with others in the retail industry. If you plan to attend, read on to learn how to prepare and what to expect when you get there.

How to Register

Registration for the 2018 NEXT Conference is a simple process. Retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, and other prospective attendees can visit Next.PBMConferences.com and click on the “Register Now” button on the home page. Doing so will take you to a registration page where you will enter personal information, including your name, address, and job title, before paying any applicable registration fees. Alternatively, you can choose to register on-site from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the opening day of the event. Registration rates range from $499 for retailers to $999 for manufacturers, suppliers, and other attendees.

 

Where to Stay and How to Get Around

NEXT Conference organizers have reserved a block of hotel rooms for attendees at Hotel Van Zandt, which is located only minutes from the conference venue. Rooms start at $239 per night and can be booked through the NEXT Conference website or by calling the hotel directly. Of course, attendees also have the option to stay at one of the many other hotels in the Austin area.

Moody Theater

Image courtesy Todd Dwyer | Flickr

Those flying into Austin will likely arrive at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS). At AUS, attendees can pick up a rental car, take the Super Shuttle, or hire a taxi to travel to their hotel or the conference venue, which is located approximately 10 miles away from AUS. Transportation services will not be provided during the event, so attendees will have to walk, rent a car, hire a service, or take public transportation to travel between their hotel and The Moody Theater.

 

Lineup of Speakers

Each year, the NEXT Conference features a lineup of prominent speakers with diverse backgrounds in marketing and advertising, retail sales, and business leadership. Over a dozen big-name speakers will speak at this year’s conference, including Gay Gaddis, Steve Dennis, and Phil Gwoke.

A Texas-based marketing executive, keynote speaker Gay Gaddis oversees The Think Tank (T3), which she launched in 1989 after cashing in a $16,000 IRA. Gaddis, who has worked with some of the country’s top companies, will take the stage at the NEXT Conference to discuss how attendees can harness their personal power to make their own way in business.

Opening speaker Steve Dennis is the president of SageBerry Consulting. Before assuming his current position, Steve Dennis served as the chief strategy officer and head of multichannel marketing for the Neiman Marcus Group. He has used his extensive experience to write and speak on retail innovation. His presentation at the 2018 NEXT Conference will focus on helping attendees to stay fresh in today’s retail environment.

On the morning of September 25, Phil Gwoke will address the NEXT audience. Gwoke, a former high school teacher and small business owner, is a respected expert in generational intelligence. He will leverage his expertise to discuss the four generations that comprise today’s retail market and provide insight into how salespeople can be successful in reaching each age group.

In addition to gaining insights from the three featured speakers, attendees at the 2018 NEXT Conference will have an opportunity to learn from a number of other marketers and retail leaders, including Jasmine Jaco, Casey Miller, Tim McLain, and Shrenik Sadalgi. Bill McLoughlin and Catherine Silver from Furniture Today will also present at the event.

 

What Attendees Can Expect to Learn at the NEXT Conference

Beyond the presentations on personal power, retail innovation, and generational demographics, NEXT attendees will learn how to harness creative marketing and modern tools to drive the growth of their companies. Conference sessions will focus on how retailers can create compelling stories to promote products and brands while reaching new customers through technology and experiential merchandising. Speaker Seth Weisblatt will also discuss how attendees can use social media, data mining, and other digital marketing tools to stand out from their competitors.

 

Opportunities for Networking and Socializing

Outside of the educational programming, attendees will have an opportunity to socialize and establish new professional connections during several networking activities. The conference will include daily networking breaks, as well as special events such as luncheons and cocktail parties. On September 25, Catherine Silver, the vice president of the parent company of Furniture Today, will host a ceremony recognizing the winners of the Impact Mentorship Award and the Impact Innovator Awards. Before traveling back home, attendees can also take part in networking excursions throughout Austin on the morning of September 26. More information about all the activities at the 2018 NEXT Conference is available at Next.PBMConferences.com.

business

9 of the Most Successful Entrepreneurs Who Started with Little Money

A recent study conducted by Harvard Business School found that 50 percent of all new businesses in the United States fail within the first five years, and over 70 percent of companies never make it to their 10th anniversary. While these statistics are quite discouraging, they didn’t prevent the most successful entrepreneurs from launching their own enterprises with nothing more than a good idea, a commitment to hard work, and a strong motivation to succeed.

Some of these entrepreneurs have become well-known public figures, while others remain relatively unheard of, but they all prove that it is possible for anyone to attain success in today’s competitive business environment. The following is a look at 9 successful entrepreneurs who launched businesses with very little money:

 

  1. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Image courtesy Andrea Omizzolo | Flickr

Now a household name, Steve Jobs cofounded Apple Computers with Steve Wozniak in 1976 using $1,350 the two college dropouts made by selling some personal items. This initial investment quickly grew to $200 million thanks to sales of the user-friendly Apple II computer. Driven by Jobs’ later innovations, including the iMac, iPod, iPad, and iPhone, Apple is currently valued at an astonishing $1 trillion.

 

  1. Henry Ford

Anyone growing up in the United States is likely quite familiar with Henry Ford. The father of the assembly line, he launched the Ford Motor Company in 1903 using cash supplied mostly by relatives and friends of Alexander V. Malcomson, an early investor in Ford’s designs. In addition to streamlining the auto-manufacturing process, Ford was known for treating his employees very well. His high wages attracted reliable workers and helped him take his company to the top of the automobile industry.

 

  1. John Pemberton

John Pemberton

Image courtesy justiny8s | Flickr

The founder of one of the world’s most iconic brands, John Pemberton created Coca-Cola based on a non-alcoholic version of his French Wine Coca nerve tonic. The Georgia pharmacist developed the soda-fountain drink with little financial backing and initially sold the product for a mere 5 cents a gallon. Although Pemberton died before Coca-Cola really took off, his invention would go on to become a globally recognized product.

 

  1. Roxanne Quimby and Burt Shavitz

Although this entry technically counts as two entrepreneurs, they are listed together because they are both responsible for creating the successful Burt’s Bees line of personal care products. Using Quimby’s creativity and leftover wax from Shavitz’ honey business, the couple began creating and selling homemade candles. With $200 made during their first craft fair, they launched a candle-making operation that made $20,000 in its first year. After adding other products, most notably lip balm, Burt’s Bees became a very successful company. In 2007, Clorox acquired the brand for $925 million.

 

  1. Sam Walton

Initially the owner of several Ben Franklin franchises, Sam Walton took out a loan from his father-in-law to open his first store in Newport, Arkansas, in the mid-1940s. The location’s success allowed him to quickly pay back the loan, and he was soon operating stores in two additional states. During his early career, Walton established the retail practices that would come to define Walmart, which he launched in the early 1960s. Today, Walmart brings in over $500 billion in annual revenue and employs 2.3 million people worldwide.

 

  1. Daymond John

FUBU founder Daymond John launched his business empire selling handmade wool hats on a street corner in Queens. His first batch of hats netted John $800 and encouraged him to continue pursuing the endeavor. Later, John’s mother mortgaged her home to finance his pursuits, and he began to expand his line to include hip-hop-inspired T-shirts, sportswear, and accessories. To date, FUBU has generated over $6 billion in retail sales. Daymond John is worth an estimated $300 million.

 

  1. Sophia Amoruso

Sophia Amoruso

Image courtesy TechCrunch | Flickr

Not your typical entrepreneurial success story, Sophia Amoruso never intended to launch a business. At 22, she started an eBay store that grew into the Nasty Gal clothing brand. Amoruso eventually stepped down as CEO of Nasty Gal, which at its height was worth $350 million. She currently leads Girlboss, a community and media company that supports the endeavors of working women.

 

  1. David Packard and William Redington Hewlett

Another two-for-one entry on this list, William (Bill) Redington Hewlett and David Packard met each other while studying engineering at Stanford University in the early 1930s. Encouraged by a Stanford professor, the pair used a $500 loan and a second-hand drill press to launch Hewlett Packard from a small garage in Palo Alto. The two men developed a wide range of innovative tech products over the years and helped give rise to what became known as Silicon Valley. The garage where Hewlett and Packard started their business is now a California Historic Landmark, and Hewlett Packard is worth approximately $27.4 billion.

 

  1. Kevin Plank

Although Kevin Plank grew up in a prominent Maryland family, his success as an entrepreneur stemmed from his own hard work and determination. As a student at the University of Maryland, he launched Cupid’s Valentine, a company that sold roses on Valentine’s Day. With the $17,000 he made from the venture, Plank developed and started selling the first products that would make up his Under Armour brand. Today, Under Armour generates close to $5 billion in annual revenue.

living room

Here’s How to Refresh the Look of Your Living Room

For many people, the living room is the heart of the home. Whether you live in a one-bedroom apartment or a sprawling ranch house, the living room is where you relax, entertain guests, and spend time with family. Of course, a space that sees this much activity is prone to a lot of wear and tear and can quickly lose its fresh look. Fortunately, updating the design and functionality of your living room doesn’t have to be an overly complicated task. When it’s time to put some life back into your family’s living space, you can do the following to make it as stylish as it is comfortable:

 

Don’t Be Afraid of Color.

While neutral tones such as gray, tan, and white still have their place throughout the home, more people are getting braver with their choice of living room colors. To join the trend favoring moody interiors, consider painting your walls with a rich violet, navy, or emerald green.

 

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Many people worry about darker colors making a room feel smaller, but this won’t happen if you use them correctly. The ever-popular accent wall still provides an easy way to inject some color without shrinking the space. Another way to refresh the look of your living room is to employ multiple shades at a time and then tie them together with furniture and accessories.

 

Add Texture and Natural Elements.

Along with rich and/or unexpected color themes, multiple textures and textiles are growing in popularity. Leather and suede are both making a comeback, but velvet is particularly on trend. The soft, luxurious fabric is well-suited for sofas and chairs, but it also works as an elegant drapery. Consider using it alongside a stylish leather chair or ottoman to add some warmth to your living space.

To bring some additional warmth into your home, don’t shy away from accessorizing with rich wood pieces and other natural design elements. If you’ve opted for a modern look, using wood in the space can keep it from becoming too cold and impersonal. A high-quality wood coffee table is always a good choice in a living room, but you could also choose to make a bolder statement by brightening up the space with a wooden wall treatment. Add some indoor plants throughout the room to complement the natural look and bring a little nature inside.

 

Get Organized.

With the amount of traffic your living room sees, it’s important to keep the space organized and uncluttered. Corner sofas remain a popular furniture option because they are convenient space savers that work well in many different room configurations. With a spot for books, magazines, toys, and remote controls, modern coffee tables, ottomans, and end tables that feature drawers and other storage areas also provide an easy way to cut down on clutter while maintaining a stylish look. Don’t forget about the long-loved entertainment center, which can provide extra storage along with serving as a central location for your television and other electronics.

 

Look Up and Down.

When updating your living room, it’s important to look beyond the walls and furniture. While they aren’t necessarily the focal point in most rooms, your floor and ceiling give you the opportunity to brighten up the space in an unexpected way. A recent trend toward statement rugs and carpets is becoming more popular in the world of interior design. This look involves embracing bold patterns and colors and asymmetrical design elements for your living room floor coverings.

 

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In addition to bold floors, wild ceilings are a growing trend. If you’re looking to try something different in your living room, turn your attention upward and add some paint or wallpaper to your ceiling. You can also add texture, wood paneling, or geometric patterns for a three-dimensional look.

 

Embrace Metallic Finishes.

For the last several years, metallic finishes have been omnipresent in interior design, and it appears that this trend isn’t likely to go away any time soon. Particularly fashionable right now are satin gold and brushed brass, which both work well on everything from lamps to end tables. The best thing about metal design elements is that you don’t need much of them to make a statement. Simply adding some new hardware to an existing cabinet or bureau can go a long way toward freshening up your space.

 

Brighten Up Your Lighting.

Regardless of how much work you put into improving the look of your living room, it won’t be noticeable without the proper lighting. Be sure to take advantage of natural light and don’t skimp on the artificial light sources, either. Throughout the room, add table and floor lamps to provide task lighting where it is needed. Also, consider adding wall-mounted lighting for artwork, and try using illuminating accessories to highlight accent walls and other design features.

While enhancing your living room lighting, don’t forget about the fixtures. Make a statement with pendant lights or a sculptural chandelier. If you’re on a budget, you could simply bring one or two eye-catching lamps or lampshades into the space. As with the rest of the room’s design, it’s all about finding something that works well with your own unique style.

New York

What to Expect at the NY NOW Summer 2018 Market

NYNowMarketTwice a year, thousands of attendees gather in New York City for the NY NOW Market, a leading trade show for professionals in the gift, lifestyle, and home furnishings industries. The event features more than 2,300 exhibiting companies and tens of thousands of design-driven products all under one roof. In addition to spotlighting great products, the multiday convention includes an educational program comprising insightful seminars, presentations, and discussions by top designers, retail experts, and home and lifestyle industry executives.

In 2018, the NY NOW Summer Market will take place August 12-15 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Drawing on over nine decades of success, the event promises to offer an exciting experience for retailers, buyers, and design tastemakers looking for the latest products from both established and emerging brands. Keep reading for a closer look at what’s happening during this industry-leading trade show in New York City.

 

Products, Products, and More Products

One of the main reasons that over 20,000 people from around the world attend the NY NOW Summer Market is to see the latest home, lifestyle, gift, and handmade products on display. With four levels of showroom space to explore, attendees at the 2018 event will have more than enough to see during the four days of programming. Exhibitors at the show will feature thousands of lines across a wide range of product categories, including gourmet housewares and kitchenware, home textiles, garden and outdoor, decorative accessories, and, of course, home furnishings.

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Although tens of thousands of products will be on display during the summer 2018 edition of NY NOW, event organizers have carefully coordinated the market layout to make it easy for attendees to find the specific products for their business. Each level of the Javits Center will feature separately curated collections in three broad categories: home, lifestyle, and handmade. While exploring each collection, attendees will have the opportunity to speak with hundreds of exhibitors and product designers.

Furniture retailers and other home furnishings professionals will want to focus their attention on level three of the Javits Center to find the latest in interior furnishings and decor. The Home Collection of NY NOW features three sections, including an area dedicated to home furnishings and textiles. In addition to hundreds of furniture pieces for indoor and outdoor living, the section will showcase the latest floor coverings, wall décor, and bedding products. The section will also include displays of lighting, pillows, and other decorative accessories.

 

Ample Learning Opportunities

Along with seemingly endless displays of products and services, the NY NOW Market offers attendees plenty of opportunities to learn how to advance their careers and improve their businesses. At the 2018 Summer Market, learning opportunities will feature a robust seminar program with sessions on a variety of business-related topics, including e-mail marketing, social media, sales goals, and merchandising. Other seminars will focus on buyer behavior, brand building, SEO, and influencer marketing.

Another highlight of the 2018 educational programming will be a specialty series called Retail Minded @ NY NOW. New for 2018, the four-part series of sessions will be led by Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, a retail expert who founded the well-respected industry website RetailMinded.com. During the Retail Minded series, Reyhle and other guest speakers will offer retail survival tips and discuss topics such as in-store technology, online reviews, and marketing on a budget.

 

Networking and Social Activities 

For many repeat attendees, NY NOW is all about connecting with businesses and other professionals in their field. Event organizers understand this, and they do their best to provide a variety of structured and casual ways for attendees to engage with each other and exhibiting companies.

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Each day of NY NOW includes networking coffee hours in the morning and happy hours in the evening. The event also includes networking lounges as well as live music, giveaways, and other fun activities. In addition to the on-site networking, attendees at the NY NOW 2018 Summer Market will have the opportunity to join their peers for a performance of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical on Broadway.

 

Book Signings and Industry Insights

Those hoping to meet innovative designers and business leaders will certainly not be disappointed by the lineup of speakers at the 2018 summer edition of NY NOW. Alongside the seminar programming, the event will include book signings and the special Trend Talks series, which will provide insight into the latest retail, design, and merchandising trends.

The free Trend Talks series will feature presentations from Bonnie Mackay, a retail design and merchandising executive; Wesley Moon, an interior designer; and Paula Flynn, founder of The Shopkeepers website. The list of authors who will deliver trend talks and be on hand for book signings afterward includes Justina Blakeney, author of The New Bohemians: Cool & Collected Homes and The New Bohemians Handbook: Come Home To Good Vibes, and Nicole Feliciano, author of Mom Boss: Balancing Entrepreneurship, Kids & Success. More information about speakers, exhibitors, and activities at the NY NOW 2018 Summer Market is available at www.nynow.com.

smart-home

Top Trends to Watch for in “Smart” Furniture Tech

As wireless and mobile technology continues to advance, homeowners are becoming increasingly reliant on gadgets to improve the home environment. The Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to the billions of everyday items worldwide that are connected to the Internet, is leading to a new level of interconnectedness between people and their devices. Modern tech has made it possible to adjust a thermostat remotely using a smartphone app or start a favorite playlist with a simple voice command, but these actions only scratch the surface of what is happening in the area of home automation.

Consumers’ demand for the latest technology is leading many furniture manufacturers to create products that integrate tech-driven features into their design. While “smart” furniture is still in its infancy, it makes up a rapidly growing market in the home furnishings industry. In fact, a recent report projects that the global smart furniture market will reach $916 million by 2022. This growth correlates with an expanding IoT network that experts estimate will comprise more than 20 billion devices by 2020.

So, what can consumers expect in terms of furniture that makes their lives more efficient, productive, and entertaining? Here are some smart furniture trends to watch for:

 

Seamless Connectivity

Much of today’s technology is developed with a focus on improving people’s lives, and smart furniture is certainly no exception. In addition to connecting to the Internet, furniture pieces with Wi-Fi capabilities can connect with other items in the home to make everyday tasks easier. Tech-loving consumers can expect to experience greater connectivity as manufacturers create more products with the ability to “talk” to one another through the latest technology.

wifi

Some of the most seamless connectivity today exists in the kitchen, but connected bedroom and living room furniture is becoming more popular. Many of these products use smart technology that combines Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, cloud-based artificial intelligence, and voice control to connect with speakers, smartphones, and other devices. Integrating Internet-connected touchscreens into coffee tables and cabinet doors is also an emerging trend.

 

Tech-Hiding Furniture

While the trend toward smart furniture is the result of an increased use of technology, it’s also driven by a desire to make tech less visible in one’s living space. Recent tech-inspired furniture is sleek and minimalistic. Rather than prominently showcasing their tech features, these modern pieces are designed to keep them out of sight.

New items, such as sofas with built-in surround-sound systems, reduce tech clutter while maintaining the look of a traditional sofa. Even furniture pieces without built-in technology are designed with tech in mind. These include cabinets with built-in charging ports and electrical outlets, coffee tables with hidden drawers for computers and other devices, and end tables that keep cords and wires neatly tucked away.

Wireless Charging Capabilities

Most people today remain connected to the world through their smartphones and other mobile devices. Until recently, charging these devices required unsightly cords that could get in the way of a clutter-free lifestyle. Thanks to innovations in wireless charging technology, consumers can now ditch the cords for stylish lamps and side tables with built-in wireless charging units.

wireless charging

Today, a number of furniture manufacturers are offering these products, which use an electromagnetic field to charge phones and tablets. As wireless charging capabilities improve, charging tables and standalone charging units will likely become commonplace in homes and businesses. In the near future, developments in this technology could make it possible to keep a phone or tablet charged without ever using an outlet.

 

Intelligent Mattresses

With the average person spending approximately one-third of his or her life sleeping, it’s not surprising that people are always looking for ways to improve upon the traditional mattress. For several years, manufacturers have been offering basic intelligent mattresses for use in the healthcare industry. More recently, other companies have created smart, interactive beds with various features designed to support a good night’s rest.

These intelligent mattresses include sensors that monitor sleeping habits and biometric information such as heart rate and breathing rate. Some also incorporate voice recognition technology that enables users to adjust the mattress and turn on components with a simple voice command. Other smart mattress technologies to watch for include climate-control systems, motion-activated ambient lighting, and automatic air-suspension units to prevent snoring.

 

Smart Furniture in the Workplace

In addition to offering benefits in the home, smart furniture is finding its way into the workplace as employers look for ways to improve employee well-being and productivity. Standup desks and adjustable monitors have been popular for several years, but companies have recently introduced desks that can remind an employee when it’s time to change from a seated to a standing position.

The desks feature connected sensors that provide reminders via a smartphone app. Along with helping employees monitor their daily movements, the app can automatically adjust a desk to an employee’s preferred height. Connected desks can also give employers better control over how their office space is being used throughout the day, which is especially helpful in a hot-desking environment.

furniture

Spotlight – Social Media Best Practices for Furniture Retailers

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

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

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

 

Why Use Social Media?

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

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

 

Mastering Facebook

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

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

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

 

Embracing Instagram and Twitter

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

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

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

 

Final Tips

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

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

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Here Is the Latest Community News from Ashley Furniture

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

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

Hope to Dream Events Benefit Children in Memphis and Atlanta

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

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

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

Ashley Employees Help Build Homes for Families in Need

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

Arizona Supportive Living Community Receives $100,000 in Furniture

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

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

Ashley Furniture Builds Bikes for Arcadia-Area Students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Top Insider Tips for How to Improve Furniture Sales

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

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

 

  1. Have a solid marketing plan

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

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

 

  1. Know your products

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

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

 

  1. Be friendly and personable

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

 

  1. Focus on customer service

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

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

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

 

  1. Leave a lasting impression

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

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