Spotlight on Top Ways to Conquer Today’s Retail Market

The retail industry in the United States is definitely in transition, but that doesn’t mean the market is declining. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Economic forecasts suggest that retailers can expect to see continued market growth in the retail sector throughout 2018. The growth is driven in large part by a strong labor market that is providing consumers with more disposable income to spend on their favorite products.

While the outlook for retail is very encouraging, those in the industry cannot simply stand back and wait for the profits to come to them. With more consumers willing to let go of their hard-earned cash, increased competition among stores is expected to continue. Today’s consumers have a wide range of choices when it comes to where and when they want to shop, and this is leading them to hold elevated expectations about their shopping experiences.

In order to attract these consumers, it’s important for business owners in home furnishings and other industries to adapt and optimize their business models so that consumers want to shop with them. Following are some of the ways that retailers can thrive in today’s growing and changing retail market.




Optimize Store Layout

Despite reports signaling the death of brick-and-mortar stores, many consumers still prefer to visit physical locations rather than do all of their shopping online. This is especially true of those looking for new furniture. Creating a great in-store experience that encourages customers to purchase depends on a number of factors, including the store layout.

An effective store layout features a path that encourages customers to explore the entire store from front to back. This ensures maximum exposure to products and makes it easier for shoppers to find what they want. Furniture retailers who focus on maintaining a clean and orderly store that looks and feels good will also find that customers will likely stay there longer. The more time people spend in a store, the greater the chances are that they’ll spend money.

In addition to optimizing store layout for customers, furniture retailers who also sell products online may want to rethink the way they use their floor space. Making adjustments to create an area specifically for fulfilling the delivery of online orders could enhance the customer experience and improve business efficiency.


Invest in Operational Excellence

Improving business processes has always been a major focus of profitable business strategies. In today’s tech-driven world, business owners have more access than ever to tools that can support operational efficiency. These tools cover needs in areas ranging from inventory to human resources.

Investing in IT systems that digitize the inventory and supply-chain management process can increase profits by saving time, improving consistency, and avoiding product shortages and surpluses. These systems can also ensure that the right products are available when and where customers are looking for them.




Embrace Established and Emerging Technologies

Along with using technology to improve operational efficiency, business owners who want to stand out in today’s retail landscape should embrace its ability to enhance consumer engagement. Simply having a good website may not be sufficient to gain a market share in today’s digital world. New tools are available to help connect businesses and customers like never before, and smart retailers are taking advantage of this opportunity.

Using mobile applications to engage with consumers is now common throughout the retail industry. Business owners can take this engagement one step further by expanding mobile connectivity so that customers can chat directly with salespeople via their smartphone or another connected device. Leveraging digital tools to create more in-store, online, and mobile payment options is another way to put technology to good use.

Some of the advanced technologies that companies are embracing include artificial intelligence and augmented reality, which provide a digitized and immersive recreation of real-world environments. AR technology is particularly well-suited for the home furnishings industry because it can give customers the ability to see what a certain product would look like in their home.


Consider New Business Partnerships




Although it may seem counterintuitive in what is now such a competitive retail environment, collaborating with other businesses can be mutually beneficial. Sharing insights and market data with similar businesses is one way that retailers can increase consumer satisfaction and improve sales.

Large national retailers have even embraced inventive partnerships that include shops-in-shops and pop-up stores, which can help freshen in-store inventory while introducing customers to new products. Although these types of strategies may not be feasible for smaller retailers, they demonstrate how partnering with other businesses can boost sales and consumer engagement.

One partnership strategy that businesses of all sizes can use is co-marketing. Launching a co-marketing campaign can give two or more complementary brands the ability to reach more potential customers than they would be able to by themselves. Co-marketing can also establish positive long-term relationships that can help retail businesses remain successful in a highly competitive and ever-evolving industry


This Is Why Sustainable Furniture Matters

With more people embracing the idea of green living, sustainability is a term that has become commonplace in conversations about everything from transportation to consumer goods. A new generation of adults who have grown up with a concern for the environment is driving these conversations forward and creating a demand for companies to create products using sustainable processes and materials. In the home furnishings industry, designers and company leaders are responding to this demand by offering quality pieces made from materials that reduce waste and are safe for the environment.

While some environmentally-conscious consumers choose to buy used furniture or pieces made of reclaimed materials, many are finding a variety of new-built sustainable furniture options that are as stylish as they are eco-friendly. As interest in decreasing one’s carbon footprint continues to build, consumers can expect to hear more about the trend toward sustainability in home furnishings. Here are some of the reasons the trend continues to gain momentum:


Modern Consumers Care about the Environment

In recent years, the relationship between consumers and the products they buy has changed. Rather than simply seeking the goods and services that give them the most satisfaction, modern consumers are reconciling their consumption habits with their commitment to social responsibility. For many, environmental issues are at the top of the list of concerns shaping their buying decisions.

environmentAccording to a recent personal consumption report from The Hartman Group, 87 percent of adults are part of what the Group calls the “World of Sustainability.” This includes those whose values, attitudes, and purchasing decisions are affected by the social, cultural, and environmental matters that they care about.

Another study from the global consumer-based company Unilever found that one-third of consumers buy from brands committed to advancing social and environmental good. The Unilever study also found that the majority of shoppers in both developed and emerging economies feel better about purchasing sustainable products.

This desire for and willingness to buy eco-friendly and responsibly produced products is also president in the home furnishings industry. The latest Green Home Furnishings Consumer Study from the Sustainable Furnishings Council suggests that most people are interested in sustainable furniture. In fact, 90 percent of respondents said they would buy eco-friendly home furnishings as long as they could afford it. Even more (97 percent) of respondents expressed a general concern with environmental issues.


Furniture Industry Leaders Are Committed to Sustainability

To show their own concern for the environment while reaching consumers who value sustainability, many furniture companies are offering eco-friendly options in their stores. Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., one of the world’s largest home furnishings manufacturers, is helping lead the way in this area by using responsible materials and implementing sustainable practices in its manufacturing facilities and HomeStores across the country.

Since it was founded in 1945, Ashley has refined its materials and processes to stay ahead of design trends and consumer preferences. Today, the company manufactures furniture using not only solid wood, but also engineered wood, which is one of the most sustainable materials available in the furniture industry. Ashley also remains committed to using adhesives and water-based paint finishes that reduce formaldehyde and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.

Each year, Ashley’s commitment to the environment also leads the company to recycle more than 280,000 tons of wood by-products and over 1,500 tons of metal. Because energy reduction is a major company-wide goal, Ashley Furniture also uses efficient lighting, intuitive machine controls, and advanced delivery logistics in its facilities and delivery fleets.


Responsible Manufacturing Is Good for Business

constructionIn addition to protecting the environment, furniture companies that are focused on responsible manufacturing have the opportunity to improve their bottom lines. By meeting the demand of consumers looking for sustainable products, they can increase sales and attract a loyal customer base. Improving manufacturing efficiency and decreasing energy consumption also enables companies like Ashley Furniture to reduce their overall operating costs.

Today, adopting sustainability as part of a business philosophy is more important than ever. A company that is mindful of its environmental and social impact has a competitive advantage in a market driven by consumers who value organizations working to contribute to the greater good.


Sustainability Doesn’t Have to Compromise Style or Durability

Most people in the market for new furniture would likely pass up a sustainably-made piece if it didn’t appeal to their personal sense of style. Fortunately, new materials currently used in the industry make it easy for manufacturers to create furniture that is durable, stylish, and sustainable.

The engineered wood used widely by companies such as Ashley Furniture is a renewable material manufactured with the same woods that comprise traditional lumber. Engineered wood products can be used for a variety of furniture designs and applications. Additionally, because they lack knots and a specific grain or texture, the products accept paint finishes very well and can be covered with a number of decorative surfaces. Highly resistant to warping or cracking, engineered wood is also extremely durable, making it an excellent choice for those who want sturdy furniture with a minimal carbon footprint.

living room

This Is How Ashley Furniture Gives Back to the Community

ashley furniture logoDedicated to social responsibility, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., works to give back to the customers and communities that have helped it become one of the largest home furnishings manufacturers in the world. The company’s charitable giving programs have focused on a variety of areas, including art, health care, education, and youth development. Ashley Furniture also contributes time and resources to assist individuals and families affected by natural disasters.

The following programs and activities outline just a few of the ways the company is working to make the world a better place:


Advancing Disaster Relief Efforts

Since its founding more than seven decades ago, the company has directed hundreds of volunteer service hours and millions of dollars toward natural disaster recovery efforts worldwide. Ashley Furniture most recently announced that it would help distribute over 4,700 mattresses throughout Puerto Rican communities ravaged by Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that made landfall in late September 2017, pummeling the island territory and leaving many residents without shelter and other necessities.

Ashley Furniture donated approximately $1 million worth of mattresses in partnership with local Ashley Furniture HomeStores operated by the family-owned Puerto Rican company Mueblerías Berríos. With support from the US Army National Guard and Puerto Rico’s First Lady, Beatriz Isabel Rosselló, Mueblerías Berríos employees delivered the mattresses to homes in more than 70 cities across the island.

In addition to helping people recover from Hurricane Maria, Ashley Furniture provided much needed relief to individuals recovering from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, which severely damaged communities in Texas and Florida in 2017. Ashley donated $2 million in furniture products and discounts through local Ashley HomeStores to help families get back on their feet.


Spreading Holiday Cheer

Alongside its work in disaster relief, Ashley Furniture oversees a variety of activities to help those who are less fortunate. For the last two decades, company employees have supported these efforts through Ashley’s Angels, a volunteer-led nonprofit group that distributes food, clothing, and toys to children from disadvantaged backgrounds each holiday season.


Ashley’s Angels works in partnership with dozens of school districts in Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to identify families that will benefit from the program. After the group selects the recipients, volunteer shoppers from the Ashley community come together to purchase, wrap, and load the gifts onto Ashley trucks, which deliver the items to families in mid-December. In 2017, Ashley employees raised over $262,000 to provide holiday cheer for more than 1,350 children from 60 school districts. Ashley’s Angels has raised over $3 million, benefiting more than 20,000 children, since its creation in 1997.


Improving the Lives of Children in Need

Another way Ashley Furniture demonstrates its commitment to the community is through its Hope to Dream program. Launched in 2010, the program provides mattresses, bed frames, and bedding for underprivileged children aged 3 to 16. Throughout the year, over 430 Ashley HomeStores across the country donate a portion of each mattress sold to help support the program. Ashley also partners with professional sports teams and organizations such as United Way, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to ensure that Hope to Dream benefits as many children as possible.

In 2017, Hope to Dream participants across the country celebrated the program’s seventh anniversary by working toward a goal of providing brand-new beds for 10,000 children. By the end of the year, they had exceeded their goal with a total of just over 12,000 beds. Ashley Furniture continues to advance the program, adding to the more than 50,000 beds it has provided to children nationwide.


Supporting Arts, Entertainment, and Family Fun

Each August, tens of thousands of people gather in Arcadia, Wisconsin, for three days of music and fun activities during the Ashley for the Arts festival. First held in 2009, the event provides low-cost family entertainment while raising money for Ashley for the Arts, an initiative that supports Wisconsin schools, children’s charities, and other nonprofit organizations.

Alongside a lineup of great musicians, the festival, which takes place at Arcadia’s Memorial Park, features a car show, fireworks, circus performers, interactive children’s activities, and an art and craft fair with over 100 vendors. The festival also includes the annual Pursuit of a Cure 5K Run/Walk benefitting the American Cancer Society and local emergency response services.

In its first decade, the Ashley for the Arts festival grew from a relatively small event attended by a few hundred people into one of Wisconsin’s largest fundraisers. The 2017 festival attracted over 50,000 attendees and raised more than $425,000. All of the proceeds from the event went to a group of over 40 organizations. In addition to more than a dozen area school districts, beneficiaries included local churches, youth groups, and various community organizations.

luxury car

This Is How Millennials Are Changing Luxury Retail

Although the luxury sector has experienced a slight slump in recent years, current projections by market analysts suggest that the industry is gearing up for a rebound. In a recent report, Bain and Company estimated that the luxury consumer market will grow at an annual rate of 4 to 5 percent through 2020.

One significant factor expected to drive this growth is the increasing buying power of millennials. As of 2017, millennial consumers comprised 38 percent of activity in the luxury consumer market, yet accounted for only 30 percent of spending. This is likely to change in the near future, with luxury spending among millennials growing to match their presence in the sector.

Millennials will join forces with Generation Z to make up 45 percent of the international personal luxury goods sector. However, they will do so in their own unique way, subverting many of the trends and expectations currently associated with luxury retail. The following are some of the major habits and preferences shared by millennial consumers as they drive the renewal of the luxury sector:

luxury car
  1. Redefining the Luxury Label

As millennials become a stronger force among consumers, they are beginning to shed traditional attitudes toward luxury brands. For decades, luxury products have offered consumers something beyond the assurance of quality. Personal luxury products have come to serve as markers of wealth and status, and in many cases, even signify transitions from one stage of life to the next.

Consumers have long aspired to partake in the luxury market because it signifies a certain level of wealth. Millennials, it would seem, are driven less by these positive associations and more out of a desire for self-expression.

The generational shift in perspective toward luxury brands may be the result of multiple factors. For one, the bulk of the millennial generation is entering adulthood in an economic climate less favorable than that enjoyed by their parents. Social expectations are evolving, while digitization has created endless new possibilities. Millennials have come of age in a world of endlessly expanding possibility, and their budding interest in luxury brands reflects an interest in this possibility rather than predefined labels.

When millennial consumers consider investing in luxury brands, it is usually because they are seeking to make a personal statement. Rather than attempting to communicate their economic status, they are instead striving to make a purchase that reflects their unique values and interests. For millennials, luxury brands are a way to not only display their identity, but also help define it.

The need to promote individuality rather than exclusivity has prompted many luxury brands to expand into new categories. One recently successful example is the streetwear retail subcategory. Many luxury apparel companies have developed t-shirts, sneakers, denim, and other casual products to cater to the needs and aesthetic tastes of millennials.

  1. Millennials Value Experiences

The luxury submarkets that have experienced the largest increase in growth are those that offer not only products, but experiences. This includes areas such as hospitality and food and beverage. In order to keep up with these sectors, personal luxury goods markets such as furniture and apparel must tap into consumers’ desire for uniquely valuable experiences. They must leverage a combination of product development and marketing strategies to offer products that communicate an idea that inspires consumers to make a purchase. Brands can accomplish this by using digital platforms to reach out to consumers, as well as by offering items at a variety of price points to encourage experimental entry-level purchases.

  1. Meeting Customers Where They Are

A recent study of millennials’ shopping habits conducted by Deloitte confirmed that the generation is largely drawn to online retail. Millennials rely on company websites and social media to influence their luxury purchases, and they are more likely to buy luxury items online.

E-commerce is therefore an increasingly relevant channel that retailers cannot afford to ignore. While online sales comprised less than 10 percent of all luxury sales in 2017, this number could increase to 25 percent by 2025.

However, the shift to online retail doesn’t diminish the importance of brick and mortar locations. If anything, the growing role of e-commerce makes the in-store experience a more crucial element of the overall customer journey. Visiting a physical store is often the final step in the buying process for consumers who conduct most of their research online. Thus, retailers must provide engaging, immersive in-store experiences that reflect their brands and provide a value that can’t be gained online.


Looking Ahead

Emerging consumer trends in luxury furniture are gradually driving fundamental changes in the sector. While today’s leading luxury brands have traditionally focused on brand heritage and history as marketing points and foundations for product design, newer strategies are celebrating individuality, exploring new design possibilities, and helping consumers express their identity.


The Most Common Reasons That Customers Leave without Buying

Watching a customer enter your store, browse for a while, and then leave without buying anything can be a vexing experience for a furniture retailer. Based on the customer’s decision to enter your store, you might assume that you carry an item that he or she is interested in. So what prevented this potential customer from making a purchase?

Many lost sales opportunities lie in between a customer’s decision to browse a store and his or her decision to leave empty handed. In order to make the most of every customer relationship, it is necessary to explore the following most common barriers to making a sale:


  1. Customers Can’t Find What They’re Looking For.

The rise of digital retail has allowed consumers to become better informed and, therefore, more independent shoppers. A rising number of customers feel that they don’t need a sales person’s assistance to locate the items they plan to evaluate. For this reason, when well-informed customers fail to find what they’re looking for on their own, they may be more likely to assume that you simply do not have it in stock than to request assistance from one of your sales representatives.

While furniture showrooms typically feature a significant cross section of a retailer’s merchandise, home furnishings companies typically stock additional options in their warehouses. This is increasingly true as digitization across the supply chain allows companies to efficiently sell from warehouses in multiple regional locations. If a customer can’t find what he or she is looking for in your showroom, it is likely that you’ll have a suitable option in a physical catalog or on your website. In order to connect them to these options, however, you will first need to get them face to face with a sales professional.

Furniture salespeople face the challenge of providing shoppers with adequate support without being too overbearing. When a new customer enters your store, your associates should strive to find out what kind of pieces he or she is searching for, even if his or her stated reason for coming in is “just browsing.” This provides an introduction to the sales process and allows your employees to set customers on the right path to finding what they need and to make themselves available for additional assistance.

  1. Sales Professionals Don’t Adequately Assess Customers’ Needs.

Finding out what attracted a prospective customer to your store is an extremely important step in the sales process. However, as customers become more knowledgeable, traditional methods of qualifying customers are quickly becoming outdated. Most consumers are already well-acquainted with the retail sector that they are shopping within and are likely armed with some degree of research regarding your brand and products. Thus, it is necessary for you and your sales associates to delve deeper to truly analyze the unique needs of each customer.

In order to accomplish this, you must ask strategic questions that seek to uncover not simply what piece of furniture a customer is looking for, but also the finer details of their unique consumer journey. Questions such as, “Have you been shopping long?” and “Did you see anything you liked at any other stores?” can help provide a clearer view of how quickly a customer hopes to make a purchase, as well as his or her tastes in the context of current industry trends. Afterwards, asking questions about—and perhaps even creating a sketch of—the room that the new piece of furniture will fit into can provide further insight into a customer’s needs.


  1. The Price Isn’t Right.

A customer’s decision to check the price on an item can often be a turning point in whether or not he or she will consider making a purchase. As such, an inability to locate accurate pricing information is an obvious impediment to a sale. However, customers may also leave your store if they believe that all of your items are above their ideal price point. It can be difficult to surmount this sales barrier, as large items like furniture are rarely priced at a level to encourage impulse buys, nor are many customers seeking to buy furniture on a whim. However, you can help alleviate financial woes by offering home furnishings at a wide range of price points and prominently featuring trendy, affordable entry products, such as small pieces of home décor, to entice budget-conscious shoppers.

  1. The Sales Professionals Lack Knowledge.

It isn’t enough to simply begin a conversation with a customer. It is also necessary for your sales representatives to be capable of providing value that your digitally empowered customers can’t gain on their own time. A salesperson’s knowledge must extend beyond what is on your showroom floor to comprise your broader inventory, industry trends, and noteworthy activities by competing brands.

When customers reflect on exceptional retail experiences, they most often cite shopping trips when they received efficient service and smart recommendations. Knowledgeable, savvy sales professionals can provide a valuable reason for customers to keep browsing your store, so ensure that you equip your team members with the tools they need to be home furnishings industry experts.


6 of the Best Ways Top Furniture Sellers Can Attract Millennials

A group comprising approximately 80 million Americans born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, the millennial generation represents a large market of consumers who spend approximately $600 billion each year. While a fair amount of that annual spending goes toward high-tech gadgets, many millennials are moving into their own homes and apartments and shelling out a portion of their earnings to furnish them.

As members of this generation enter and advance into adulthood, furniture sellers have an opportunity to profit from their buying power. They can only do this, however, if they know how to attract millennials using the right marketing techniques and product offerings.


Don’t Underestimate the Power of Online Marketing

The majority of today’s consumers rely on the Internet to shop for and research products. Of course, millennials are no different. To reach this segment of the buying public, business owners are most successful using a marketing strategy that makes effective use of mobile and social media platforms.

Many millennials are attached to their devices and use them daily to engage with friends, family, and businesses. Because of this, furniture sellers who maintain a mobile-friendly website and promote their brand on Facebook and Twitter will have a better chance of connecting with the millennial consumer. To be most effective, sellers should favor a strategic personalized approach over the in-your-face advertising that millennials tend not to appreciate.


Make Room for Tech-Friendly Products

As mentioned, millennials love their gadgets. Whether it’s a laptop, tablet, or the latest iPhone, many members of the generation would have a hard time getting through the day without connecting to an electronic device.

Desks with cable-management systems and similar tech-friendly features are likely to be a big hit with millennial shoppers. Home entertainment stands that reduce clutter and provide space for much-loved media and entertainment technology are also among the items that many modern consumers feel they can’t live without. Furniture sellers who offer products for the digital age and all the techy tools that come with it shouldn’t have any difficulty finding someone willing to buy them.


Keep the Look Modern

According to recent shopping trends, younger consumers do not value antique or old-style furniture in the way that previous generations have. Many millennials are nostalgic and favor vintage products, but this apparently does not translate to furniture.

The trend away from antique pieces may be the result of millennial spending habits, which sometimes prioritize necessity over luxury. Regardless of the reason, traditional furniture is not popular among the generation, so furniture sellers should probably make more room for modern and contemporary utilitarian pieces if they want to earn the dollars of this consumer group.


Offer Affordable and Durable Standalone Pieces

As a generation that values mobility, millennials enjoy traveling and having the freedom to relocate to find new opportunities and adventures. The generation is also more likely than their parents were to compromise space for the ability to be close to the action in urban centers. These trends have an effect on millennials’ furniture preferences.

Although many value durable pieces that can stand up to a move or two, they want those pieces to come at an affordable price. Offering furniture that is budget-friendly but also of superior quality is a good idea for those looking to tap into the millennial market. It’s also important for furniture sellers to remember that many millennials are living in limited spaces that don’t have room for bedroom sets or sectional sofas. Single pieces that can be mixed, matched, and rearranged for different spaces are bigger sellers among younger shoppers.



Consider Offering Eco-Friendly Options

In addition to being the largest generation in US history, millennials are also one of the most environmentally conscious. As much as 70 percent of the generation has said that a product’s environmental impact plays a role in whether or not they purchase it. Offering pieces that feature eco-friendly materials or that come from suppliers committed to sustainability may help bring more millennials into a furniture store.


Focus on In-Store Sales

Despite many millennials’ love of the virtual world, the generation still likes to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. A report from Home Furnishings News (HFN), which tracks trends in the industry, found that over 60 percent of millennials’ interior furnishing purchases were made in-store. Other reports have shown that as many as seven out of 10 members of the generation browse products in brick-and-mortar locations before making a purchase.

Ensuring that millennials and all other customers have a great in-store experience should be a top priority for every furniture seller. Having the ability to touch, feel, and see the product in person is particularly important when purchasing furniture and other items that play an important role in the home. Furniture can also involve a bit of an investment that many customers won’t want to make without actually seeing the item beforehand.


Important Trends You Need to Watch at the 2018 Winter Las Vegas Market

lasvegasmarketlogoFrom January 28 to February 1, 2018, business leaders, sales professionals, and designers from all corners of the home furnishings sector will gather for the latest installation of the Las Vegas Market. Like its predecessors, the 2018 Winter Las Vegas Market will feature an exciting slate of programming that will enable attendees to network with others in the industry, earn professional education credits, and learn about the latest trends impacting the furniture sector.

The Las Vegas Market organizes its exciting slate of programming into a number of series, each offering a different perspective on this year’s most impactful trends. The following market programs will guide attendees on a journey into the artistry, history, and aesthetic themes of 2018’s top home furnishings trends:

First Look Trends

At each Las Vegas Market, the First Look program provides an exclusive sneak peek into the trends expected to impact the industry in the year to come. Market organizers break these emerging design schemes into distinct vignettes, each with a creative title that sums up the overarching theme of the trend. Attendees can then peruse these First Look Trends several ways: on the Las Vegas Market website, within the market’s exclusive biannual First Look publication, and at live, themed displays at the Las Vegas Market Grand Plaza. Attendees can also gain further insight into these trends at the First Look Seminar. This year, Julie Smith Vincenti from Nine Muses Media will host the continuing education unit (CEU)-accredited event on the morning of January 29.

The following are the Winter 2018 First Look Trends:

Romantic Realists—This vignette highlights the paint colors that are likely to dominate the home furnishings sector in 2018, as well as the artistic eras that provided inspiration for many of today’s most popular designs. It features dramatic hues ranging from vibrant red to oceanic blue, with deep greys and muted, blue-grey pastels adding a sense of calm and simplicity. These emotive shades contrast beautifully with furnishings in stark neutral tones, and they offer an emotional depth that often calls to mind 19th-century romantic aesthetics as well as those of the subsequent realist movement.

The designs in Romantic Realists draw inspiration from such noteworthy paintings as “Liberty Leading the People” by Eugène Delacroix, as well as works by Francois Millet, Honoré Daumier, and Gustave Courbet. It features pieces by leading brands including Mitchell Black, Manhattan Comfort, and TOV Furniture, with evocative paint shades provided by Sherwin-Williams, Behr, Glidden, and OLYMPIC.

Easy Now—The Winter 2018 housewares and dining vignette will highlight both style and functionality. While Las Vegas Market always dedicates space in its First Look series to what many consider the center of the home, this market’s kitchen and dining trends will specifically cover innovative, time-saving products and designs that make meal preparation easy and efficient.

Year of the Dog—The Las Vegas Market will celebrate the Chinese New Year a few weeks early with Year of the Dog, a vignette created in honor of man’s best friend. With the Chinese Lunar Calendar transitioning to a new zodiac on February 16, it’s the perfect time to honor the bond between humans and their four-legged pals with a variety of home décor and gift products.

This diverse vignette will span multiple categories of home furnishings and décor, featuring a wide variety of decorative items and gifts adorned with lively canine motifs. Products included in Year of the Dog will include pillows, rugs, and printed items such as stationary and journals. Naturally, this First Look display will also showcase items for dogs, such as beds, toys, and pet supplies.

Storytellers—Each season, one First Look vignette highlights handmade products throughout the furniture, home, and gift categories. This year’s impressive artisanal works display will showcase storytellers—the creative minds who channel their passion, conviction, and determination to create inspiring handcrafted pieces that make an impact on the world. This vignette will feature pieces by designers like Jen Mayrand of Badass Babe, who recycles spent ammunition to create gifts that support veterans’ organizations, and Joe Moore of Olivina, a body-care company dedicated to sourcing simple, natural, and healthy ingredients.

Pantone’s Color of the Year

pantone logoAt the conclusion of each year, Pantone unveils the color that will set the mood for the fashion and home furnishings trends of the months ahead. For 2018, the leading provider of color-match and home-design tools selected Ultra Violet (Pantone 18-3838), a dramatic purple hue that evokes creativity, passion, and an air of mysticism. Leaning slightly toward the cooler end of the color spectrum, the deep indigo is similar to the shades favored by beloved creative minds such as Prince and David Bowie.

In addition to being a bellwether for emerging styles, Pantone’s color of the year always reflects larger societal trends. The brand chose this year’s color with the knowledge that many people are living through complex, challenging, and often fearful times. With Ultra Violet, Pantone offers inspiration to face events with optimism and personal empowerment. As noted by Pantone Vice President Laurie Pressman in an interview with the Associated Press, the color is reminiscent not only of freedom and fearlessness, but also of the serenity that comes from thoughtful introspection.

Pantone will explore the impact and execution of this and other prevailing color trends on Tuesday, January 30, in a workshop entitled, PANTONE Color Institute Presents: Inspiring and Expressing Color: Defining the Essential Color Trends for Home in 2018.


Ahead of the Curve

Las Vegas Market also showcases the most impactful trends of the day with Ahead of the Curve, a program that calls on professional interior designers to offer their unique insights into current home furnishings trends. Moderated by Kate Bergeron, Luxe’s style editor, the Winter 2018 Ahead of the Curve program benefits from the expertise of Julia Buckingham of Buckingham Interiors, Benjamin Johnston of Benjamin Johnston Design, and the team of Ron Woodson and Jamie Rummerfield, representing Woodson & Rummerfield’s House of Design.

Together, these thought leaders will highlight a few aesthetic themes that seem to encompass the overarching trends of this year’s top home furnishings collections. These themes are: 90’s Simplicity, which will showcase the juncture of retro and modern styles in simple, understated designs; Imperfect is the New Perfect, which will explore how natural, timeworn textures are adding depth to today’s home furnishings; Heavy Metals, which will highlight the prevailing trend of mixed-metal designs; and Flora + Fauna, an exploration of how these timeless motifs are breathing new life into interior spaces.

furniture tech

This Is How Technology Is Changing the Furniture Industry

Professionals in the home furniture industry understand that offering customers the best possible service requires incorporating the latest technologies. For example, innovations like self-driving trucks could make furniture delivery much more convenient in the not-too-distant future. Other emerging technologies will offer additional benefits.

Customers expect convenience. Technology helps to provide it. That’s why furniture industry professionals should monitor the development of the following major tech trends. Implementing them in the right ways may enable them to substantially improve their services going forward.


Augmented Reality

Augmented reality gained widespread popularity thanks to the success of the game Pokemon Go! However, gaming certainly isn’t the only industry to potentially benefit from this rapidly-developing technology.

Put simply, augmented reality allows users to superimpose virtual elements on top of the “real world” via digital devices. Right now, the tech is primarily restricted to mobile phones and tablets, but it will also have applications for wearable headsets in the future.

Retailers in various industries have already experimented with using augmented reality to help ecommerce customers make informed shopping decisions. Popular cosmetics retailer Sephora, for example, offers a feature on its app that allows customers to apply virtual makeup to a selfie. This gives people a better sense of whether or not they wish to buy a particular product.

This same concept can be applied to the furniture industry. Shopping for furniture online can be tricky. Seeing an image and description of a couch or desk is one thing. Knowing what it will look like in your own home is something else entirely.

With AR, customers could superimpose images of a piece of furniture onto images of their homes. This would make it easier to find the right item online. It could also drive more people to brick-and-mortar stores.


Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, when applied to the furniture industry, takes the potential applications of augmented reality a step further. With virtual reality, customers who are unable to reach a brick-and-mortar store at the time could browse a virtual showroom, with realistic renderings of the various items they would otherwise find at the store. This makes them easier to assess when compared to simply looking at images online.

Virtual reality will also allow customers to more thoroughly plan the overall interior design of their homes. Wearing a VR headset, customers will be able to arrange virtual renderings of multiple pieces of furniture into different positions. This is potentially useful for many, since buying a piece of furniture often involves taking into account how it will complement all the other fixtures in a given living space. Ideally, customers want all of their furniture and fixtures to conform to a unified design aesthetic. Virtual reality will make it easier to achieve this goal.



The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to the increasingly popular trend of designing home products that can be linked to the internet. This allows customers to control them remotely.

For example, the IoT has dramatically changed how people buy home thermostats. In the recent past, a thermostat was a simple wall unit that needed to be adjusted manually. Now, there are home thermostats that can be adjusted remotely via smartphone. Through apps, users can customize their settings, limiting the amount of energy they use throughout the day.

The furniture industry will also benefit from this trend. Although most furniture requires no adjustment, some pieces can be manipulated to serve different purposes. The obvious example is a reclining chair – someday soon, you may be able to control your recliner with an app. A similar product would be a smart sofa, which could unfold into a bed with nothing more than the click of a few buttons on your phone. You wouldn’t even need to be in the room to adjust it.

This concept also applies to outdoor furniture and fixtures. Imagine a “smart” patio umbrella that you can open or close remotely. If you accidentally leave the umbrella open on a day when bad weather is expected, you don’t have to worry about it blowing over, even if you’re not close to home. You may simply be able to close it with an app.

Not all of these developments are expected to come to fruition in the immediate future. That said, it’s a smart idea for those working in the furniture industry to continue exploring them. Once again, technology makes it easier to offer customers the service they expect. These technologies in particular will soon change the way the average person buys and enjoys their own home furniture.


7 of the Best Recruiting Tips for Furniture Business Leaders

The Internet has transformed the recruitment process over the past two decades, greatly expanding the variety of opportunities available to companies and job seekers alike. Online recruiting tools have enabled business leaders to pore through an international expanse of qualified candidates with more speed and accuracy than ever before, while at the same time empowering professionals to thoroughly research a multitude of employment options.

The World Wide Web has greatly expanded the recruiting playing field, and while this has its benefits for companies seeking top talent, it also requires business leaders to be extremely diligent in their hiring efforts. In order to keep up with the competition, furniture companies of all sizes must take an active approach to recruiting that not only responds to the firm’s current needs, but also anticipates future challenges and growth.

The following are some key tips to keep in mind when seeking out new team members for your furniture business:

  1. Be Proactive.

It may be tempting to delay serious recruiting efforts until they become a necessity. However, if you wait until your business has a clear need to fill a particular role, it’s likely that the empty position will have already caused operational delays and lost sales.


To avoid the negative repercussions of an understaffed team, you must approach recruiting proactively. It is not enough to simply set aside time and resources for recruiting at a later date; in order to connect with the best candidates, you should make a habit of conducting recruiting activities on a regular basis. In doing so, you should make a clear distinction between hiring and recruiting. While you’ll only hire when you’ve identified a need to expand your team, your recruiting activities should be an ongoing effort shared by multiple members of your company.

Business leaders should allow mid-level managers to share some of the recruiting responsibilities. In fact, their job descriptions should include regularly scheduled recruiting tasks. These individuals are in the best position to detect gaps in their current teams and aid in the development of job listings that capture the essence of their departmental goals. In order to keep your managers accountable to your broader recruitment game plan, you might consider scheduling regular recruiting strategy meetings to ensure that all managers are on the same page regarding the company’s objectives and are working diligently to meet them.

  1. Practice Networking.

Recruiting is one operational area in which you should never hesitate to ask for help. A significant portion of the recruitment process is networking, and business leaders should explore every avenue when seeking the candidates who could one day become their most valued employees.

You most likely will not be able to offer employment to every qualified candidate that you interview, and the same fact holds true for your competitors. For this reason, it can be effective to develop a rapport with other businesses in your sector in order to share qualified candidates for open roles. While some business leaders may hesitate to share attractive candidates with their competitors, research has demonstrated this practice to be mutually beneficial. According to Scott Wintrip, author of High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant, business owners who introduce talent to at least eight other companies describe hiring leading candidates at a much faster pace than their peers who overlook the value of networking.

Your current employees are an extremely valuable—yet often overlooked—recruiting resource. By encouraging them to search their networks, both personal and professional, for qualified job-seekers, you can greatly expand your recruitment potential. You might even consider introducing an incentive program for referrals, offering employees bonuses for recommending new hires who remain with the company for a specified period of time.

Former employees who left the company under positive circumstances can also help you connect with other skilled workers in the industry. When seeking ideal candidates for positions in sales, you might even find attractive prospects elsewhere in your company. Individuals working in various aspects of your operations will often possess the knowledge and enthusiasm to excel in customer-facing roles and may be eager to apply these skills to increase their earnings in a sales environment.

  1. Know What You’re Looking for

To make the most of your recruiting efforts, it is important to be specific in your job listings and requests for employee referrals. Each position should have a detailed, task-oriented description that clearly outlines the skills and experience required for the role. You should also carefully consider the type of attitude that your ideal candidate would have, thus ensuring that you are seeking out individuals whose personalities will mesh well with your existing team and company culture.


The time you invest in creating a highly detailed job listing will result in a much more efficient recruiting process, thus enabling you to fine-tune your recruitment strategy. Rather than simply asking your industry contacts if they know anyone who is searching for a job, you will be able to take a more direct approach by inquiring after individuals who, for example, have experience managing a retail environment or providing fast-paced customer support.

  1. Conduct Hands-On Interviews.

While a typical verbal interview can provide a valuable introduction to a candidate’s personality, it rarely offers an opportunity to assess his or her skills. Including a hands-on portion in your interview process will enable you to evaluate candidates with a greater degree of confidence. For example, you might design sample exercises to observe how candidates handle sales calls or customer service scenarios, or you might give them the opportunity to showcase their abilities alongside one of your existing team members by allowing them to assist with real customer interactions.

  1. Cultivate an Inspiring Culture.

In order to attract high-quality employees, your business must be a place where experienced, skilled individuals want to work. As a business leader, you hold the responsibility for creating an empowering, structured, and rewarding work environment that will give your employees the tools they need to thrive. You should ensure that your managers approach their jobs with a positive, uplifting attitude and are capable of leading with clarity, empathy, and vision. You should also take the time to create and communicate your company’s mission, policies, and values.

In order to attract the best candidates, your recruiting strategies should center on the mutual goal fulfillment. While seeking qualified candidates to support your business’ continued success, you should also operate with a dedication to helping employees meet their highest potential and fulfill their professional objectives.


The Top 7 Furniture Trends You Need to Watch in 2018

As a new year approaches, many consumers may be planning to signify the transition with a change in decor. Furniture shoppers, as well as interior designers and furniture business leaders, should take a moment to explore the materials, colors, and styles that will play a role in shaping next year’s trends.

The following are some of the major trends likely to impact the furniture industry in 2018:

  1. Comfort

A number of emerging design trends promote the idea of the home as a place for relaxation and tranquility. Upcoming pieces feature shapes and materials that, while attractive, emphasize coziness over luxury or flashy style. The practice of separating large, open rooms into smaller nooks is gaining in popularity as a way to create spaces that feel comfortable and intimate. Some designers are turning to fashionable room dividers to accomplish this goal, but thoughtfully arranged furnishings—such as a chair, a side table, and a bookcase tucked into a corner to create a reading nook—can add an element of coziness to larger spaces all on their own.

interior designer

Comfort is a priority not only in the composition of home furnishings, but in their designs as well. Many new sofas are curved and low to the ground, with invitingly plush upholstery. Linen is becoming more common as a material for both bedding and upholstered seating, but padded velvet and suede have also reemerged as sought-after coverings for sofas and chairs. Velvet can add a luxurious yet eclectic flair to modern living spaces; the material exudes an elegant vintage air, while a wide variety of color options—from neutral shades to deep jewel tones—make it ideal for both conservative and adventurous shoppers and designers.

  1. Dramatic Wood Grains

The influx of retro-inspired styles, such as velvet upholstery, is coinciding with the renewed popularity of dramatic wood tones in furniture, cabinets, doors, walls, and flooring. The light brown of many natural wood varieties is popular in small spaces, where it can help brighten and expand the room. However, the luxurious deep brown of wood grains like mahogany has also become a popular design staple in major pieces such as beds and tables, as well as wall paneling and cabinetry.

  1. New Neutrals

While traditional white kitchens and bathrooms will likely never go out of style, a number of dramatic shades are replacing pearlescent tones in kitchen and bathroom fixtures, flooring, cabinetry, and appliances. Dark shades, such as deep blue, green, brown, charcoal, and plum, are becoming popular base colors in the kitchen, while copper, concrete, and other stones are starting to replace the stark white often seen on sinks and appliances.

  1. Warm Tones

Elsewhere in the home, warm shades have begun to overtake many of the cool jewel tones popular in interiors in 2017. Consumers and designers are relying on shades like terracotta, tobacco, rust, and russet to add a comforting energy to the home. Shades of teal and red, often arranged in tonal designs that stack multiple hues atop one another, are providing contrast to these warm neutrals. At the same time, consumers should expect to see the continuing popularity of millennial pink, which is likely to fade away from its 2017 prominence to serve as more of an understated contrast to complimentary shades such as berry.

  1. Metallic Accents

Copper will continue to be a popular material for light fixtures, furniture bases, and decorative accents. However, metallic gray, gold, and bronze are also likely to gain in popularity. In addition to adding a sense of both luxury and durability to wood and upholstered pieces, metal accents contrast beautifully with leather and stone. Consumers should expect to see all of these combinations in the coming year.

  1. Industrial and Recycled Pieces

In addition to vintage home furnishings and light fixtures, consumers are showing more interest in industrial-inspired pieces. Tables, storage units, and even bed frames with an industrial aesthetic are quickly becoming a trendy way to add rustic charm to every room of the house. Industrial-style furnishings that combine wood and steel elements, as well as creatively upcycled pieces, will continue to contribute to the casual chic décor of American homes in 2018.

home furniture
  1. Simplicity

Inspired in part by the minimalist slant of Scandinavian interior designs, many home furnishings collections are favoring simplicity over elaborate shapes and designs. Geometric patterns, clean lines, and gradual angles will be common features of home furnishings in 2018. Oftentimes, these pared-down pieces will pay homage to retro design periods. This will be especially true in the bedroom, where designers are taking a more understated, minimalist approach to create spaces primed for relaxation. While recent years saw a focus on ornate, luxurious bedroom motifs, new designs will draw beauty from soft neutrals, delicate materials, and an overarching sense of rest and tranquility.