Business

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Spotlight on the 2018 Ashley for the Arts Festival

ashleyfortheartsSince becoming one of the top companies in the home furnishings industry, Ashley Furniture has maintained a positive presence in communities across the country. Ashley’s dedication to social responsibility drives the company’s various philanthropic initiatives focused on social, educational, environmental, and health issues. Ashley also sponsors a number of art, music, and entertainment events, including its very own Ashley for the Arts festival.

Now in its 10th year, Ashley for the Arts was first held in 2009 and has since grown to become one of the largest charitable events in Wisconsin. The three-day music and art festival now draws over 50,000 people to Memorial Park in Ashley’s hometown of Arcadia. In addition to offering great entertainment and family-oriented activities, Ashley for the Arts raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for local organizations. Here’s what attendees can expect to experience when Ashley for the Arts celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2018:

 

Two Days of Top Musical Entertainment

Each year, one of the major highlights of Ashley for the Arts is its lineup of musical headliners. This year’s event, which will take place from August 9 to August 11, will feature several well-known artists. The headlining performances will kick off on Friday at 4 p.m. with music from Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter ZZ Ward. The music will continue that night as Rick Springfield, Daughtry, and Chris Janson each take the stage. On Saturday, the lineup includes Carly Pearce, Dan + Shay, Andy Grammer, and Rascal Flatts.

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Along with nationally touring musicians, Ashley for the Arts features performances from a number of local acts. At this year’s event, a dozen bands and individual musicians will play throughout Friday and Saturday. Ashley for the Arts’ musical lineup will also include school showcases at the Memorial Park Millennium Amphitheater. The Aquinas MS Choir & Jazz Combo, Cotter Marching Band, Cardinal Music Experience, and several other school ensembles will perform during the event.

 

Running in Pursuit of a Cure

In 2012, Ashley for the Arts added a charitable 5K to the festivities. Originally launched exclusively as an American Cancer Society fundraiser, the annual Pursuit of a Cure 5K Run/Walk now raises money for other organizations, as well as for local emergency services and families in need. Current beneficiaries include the American Cancer Society, Rita Tranberg Memorial, and Arcadia Ambulance Service.

The 2018 Pursuit of a Cure 5K will be held August 9 starting at 6:30 p.m. The event will take runners along Arcadia’s Memorial Park Drive. Those planning to take part in Pursuit of a Cure can register through the Ashley for the Arts website. During the registration process, race participants can choose to have their entry fee distributed to one or all of the race beneficiaries. All funds raised through entry fees and donations will support the work of the charities.

 

Artists and Classic Cars

A festival focused on arts and entertainment, Ashley for the Arts features an art and craft fair with nearly 100 booths. Fair participants include local artists showcasing a variety of items, including woodwork, paintings, and jewelry. In addition to providing the opportunity to purchase items from local artists and craftspeople, attendees can view live demonstrations of artwork being created during the fair, which will be held on Friday and Saturday.

After exploring the art and craft fair, Ashley for the Arts attendees can visit the Cruisin’ for the Arts Car Show to view rows of classic cars and motorcycles on display. The event, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, will wrap up with an awards presentation honoring the first- and second-place winners of the People’s Choice Award, Ambassador Award, and President’s Award.

 

Family Fun

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Ashley for the arts also offers a variety of activities designed especially for families with children. Circus acts, carnival games, and a petting zoo are all part of the festivities, which include interactive arts activities, an inflatable air park, and three hot air balloon launches. On Saturday, the event will offer a fireworks show starting at 9:30 p.m. In between activities, families can enjoy plenty of food to snack on thanks to more than 20 food vendors who will be on hand during the festival.

 

Money Raised for a Worthy Cause

Along with providing entertainment for Arcadia residents and visitors from the surrounding area, the annual Ashley for the Arts event raises much-needed funds for over 40 nonprofit organizations. In 2018, Ashley hopes to repeat the success of the 2017 festival, which raised more than $425,000 for a number of groups, including many local schools. In addition to raising funds for various charitable organizations from its Pursuit of a Cure 5K run/walk and raffle, Ashley donates profits from ticket sales to participating schools and nonprofits.

Tickets to Ashley for the Arts are $10 for all attendees and include admission to the festival for the entire weekend. Additional details, including venue information and a daily schedule, are available at www.ashleyforthearts.com.

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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.

bedroom

The Top 10 Bedroom Furniture and Décor Trends You Need to Know about

Often referred to as a sanctuary, the master bedroom is one of the most-used areas of the home. The room is where the average person spends one-third of his or her life sleeping, but it is also where people relax and wind down from the day before drifting off. To get the most out of such a key space, it’s important to focus on comfort and design while remembering to add a personal touch. Take a look at what’s new in bedroom furniture and décor with this list of the latest bedroom trends:

 

  1. Four-Poster Beds

4 post bed

In addition to buying bigger mattresses, many people are welcoming the return of four-poster beds. These classic pieces have been around for centuries and are now making a comeback in bedrooms with enough room to accommodate them. Unlike their ornate predecessors, however, most modern four-poster beds feature a clean and simple style that stands out without overwhelming the space.

 

  1. Calming Colors

Comfortable furniture and bedding are definitely necessary for proper relaxation, but calming décor can be just as important. Mixing shades of gray and white with pastel tones and pops of soothing blues and greens is a bedroom design trend that supports rest and slumber.

 

  1. Unique Accents

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Adding unique accents is an easy way to complement a neutral or subdued color palette in the bedroom. Trends in this area include intricate wallpaper, contrasting floral patterns, and eye-catching ceilings with bright colors and/or textured treatments. Designers are also making a statement by adding texture to the bedroom with accent walls of wood or concrete.

 

  1. A New Twist on Headboards

Although it is an often-overlooked furniture piece, the headboard can be an important design feature in the bedroom. Today’s trends favor either a minimal headboard or a prominent piece that showcases one’s personal style. Low or almost nonexistent headboards are perfect for those who want to show off an accent wall. Others are choosing to make the headboard itself a focal point by incorporating textured upholstery and repurposed material into the piece.

 

  1. Metallic Details

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Using metallic accents throughout the home is a design trend that remains strong. In the bedroom, metal lamps and light fixtures in copper and gold tones are in fashion. Bedside tables and bed frames with warm metallic details are also on trend among those looking to create a sophisticated look.

 

  1. A Touch of Luxury

Combining practical features with luxurious design elements is a trend that is helping to turn the bedroom into a dreamy retreat. Luxury in the bedroom starts with soft fabrics such as cashmere, mohair, and faux fur. Velvet is especially popular, and it is showing up on pillows, cushions, bedding, and upholstery. Furniture with carved features is also on-trend, and many people are opting to replace their boring ceiling fans with classic chandeliers or other eye-catching fixtures.

 

  1. Nightstands and Bedside Tables

night table

In many bedrooms, the nightstand is simply a place to put a clock, lamp, and some nighttime reading material. And while it’s important that they serve a purpose, nightstands and bedside tables certainly don’t have to be boring. Modern pieces from Ashley HomeStore and other retailers focus just as much on style as they do on utility. Those who want something a bit more casual can join the current trend of repurposing chairs, stools, and even old luggage trunks to serve as their bedside table.

 

  1. Dark Furniture

While white furniture is still a great choice for many design schemes, dark wood furniture is a classic that is seeing a resurgence in popularity in the bedroom. In fact, the use of dark wood is a design trend that is showing up throughout the home. Deep brown and even black furniture, which has long been out of fashion, is back in style. In addition to supporting a modern luxe look, brown, ebony, and other dark tones coordinate well with a variety of colors and designs.

 

  1. Spots for Relaxation

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For many people, the bedroom is much more than a sleeping spot. Those with kids or roommates may even find that their bedroom is the only place in the house where they can be alone and enjoy some peace and quiet. The need for a peaceful retreat is fueling a trend to create cozy sitting areas in any bedroom space not taken up by a bed and other essential furniture. One or two comfortable chairs along with a footstool and/or small end table provide the perfect spot to enjoy a book or some quality alone time.

 

  1. The Bed-in-a-Box

Rolled like a sleeping bag and compressed into an easily transportable size, the bed-in-a-box is a convenient and affordable mattress option. Once out of the box, the mattress begins expanding until it reaches its full size and is ready to provide a good night’s sleep. The bed-in-the-box trend started with online companies, but the mattresses are now available through a number of furniture manufacturers and retailers, including Ashley HomeStore. Sales of beds-in-a-box have doubled in recent years and still show no signs of slowing down.

security

4 of the Best Ways to Protect Customer Data

Maintaining personal information about your customers and employees is an important and often necessary part of business operations. The rise in online sales in the furniture industry and other areas of retail has led to the transfer of even more personal information from customers to businesses. Names, addresses, credit card numbers, and other account data are all used to fill orders and provide customers with a more efficient shopping experience. Unfortunately, this same data is a target of cybercriminals looking to profit from sensitive personal information.

While cyberattacks can affect businesses of all sizes, small businesses are especially vulnerable to this type of crime. In fact, nearly 50 percent of all cyberattacks are directed toward small business enterprises. When a hacker’s efforts are successful, businesses can lose the trust of their customers and face financial consequences serious enough to shut down their company. Fortunately, there are several relatively easy things that any business owner can do to protect their customers’ data. Here are a few strategies for implementing an effective data-security plan:

 

  1. Have a Strong Privacy Policy

Creating a detailed privacy policy provides business owners with an easy way to promote transparency and build trust among customers. While it’s necessary to ensure that the document is legally compliant, it should be written with the consumer in mind. Instead of using “legalese,” effective privacy policies should be written in simple language that is easy for anyone to understand.

Within the policy, it’s important to clearly outline what type of personal information is collected from customers. The document should also discuss how the business collects and uses the information and what measures are taken to protect it. Additionally, every privacy policy should provide contact information to help customers manage their personal data. There is no one right way to create a policy, but business owners should seek legal guidance to ensure that the document complies with state and federal laws related to data protection and privacy.

 

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  1. Know What Information Is on File

Even with excellent security measures in place, there is no way for a business owner to protect information that they don’t know they have. One of the first steps to take in implementing a data-protection plan involves taking stock of personal information by inventorying paper files, as well as computers, flash drives, mobile devices, and other electronic equipment.

Business owners should also work with managers and employees to identify what type of personal data is collected. Knowing where the data comes from and where it is stored is also important. Once a business identifies its data channels and storage sites, it will be much easier to track down the customer information it has on file.

 

  1. Get Rid of Unneeded Data

After locating and taking stock of all your stored customer data, the next step to take is to delete any unneeded personal information. There is no reason to store—or even collect—personally identifying information that is not integral to a business’ products and/or services. It is especially important to get rid of stored credit card numbers unless there is a legitimate reason to keep them on file. In addition to making data management more complicated, storing unnecessary customer information increases a business’ risk of being the target of a cyberattack.

 

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  1. Provide Proper Security for Any Stored Information

Of course, the most important thing a business owner can do to keep customer data out of the hands of criminals is to ensure that proper protective measures are in place. Effective data security begins with using the latest software to protect against viruses, malware, and spyware. In addition, it’s important to keep computer software, web browsers, and operating systems updated to protect against the latest threats.

In addition to using updated programs and computer systems, business owners should invest in a secure server. Although a dedicated server can be costly, the benefits that it offers are well worth it. A client-server setup provides centralized storage that gives businesses the ability to back up data and perform regular security updates across an entire network of computers. Servers also protect against computer viruses and worms, which can easily spread from one computer to another in a peer-to-peer setup.

Encryption technology is another way to protect sensitive information. Financial data, customer transactions, and even company emails can be encrypted to ensure that only authorized parties can read them. Encryption software works by scrambling information using a complex algorithm that can be very difficult to crack. This type of software is particularly important for businesses that use mobile devices to scan customer credit cards.

Regardless of how many security measures are in place, they will only be effective if employees implement them properly. Business owners should take the time to educate their staff members about how to handle customer information and identify data breaches. Creating a “culture of security” also requires regular training to keep employees updated on company privacy policies and the latest cyber threats facing the company.