Purchasing

summer

A Complete Guide to the Latest Trends in Outdoor Living

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

Bringing the Indoors Outside

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

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

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Fire Features

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

 

A Focus on Comfort

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

 

Darker Hues and Fun Patterns

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

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Use Accessories to Complete the Look

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

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

 

Embracing Coastal Vibes

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

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

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Mixed Materials and Retro Looks

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

 

Multifunctional Pieces for Greater Flexibility

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

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

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How to Connect with Customers through Personalized Emails

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

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

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

 

Start by Getting to Know the Customer

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

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

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

 

Address Recipients by Their Name

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

 

Add Personalization to Subject Lines

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

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Send Messages at the Right Time

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

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

 

Don’t Forget to be Human

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Focus on the Latest Trends

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

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

 

Professional Tips and Insights

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

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

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Presentations from Business and Home Furnishings Leaders

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

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

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

 

Hundreds of Exhibits

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

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

 

Entertainment and Social Activities

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

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

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

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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.

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This Is How Millennials Are Changing Luxury Retail

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

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

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

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  1. Redefining the Luxury Label

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

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

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

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

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

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  1. Millennials Value Experiences

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

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  1. Meeting Customers Where They Are

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

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

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

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Looking Ahead

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

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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.

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  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.

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  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.

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6 of the Best Ways Top Furniture Sellers Can Attract Millennials

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

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

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Don’t Underestimate the Power of Online Marketing

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

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

 

Make Room for Tech-Friendly Products

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

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

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Keep the Look Modern

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

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

 

Offer Affordable and Durable Standalone Pieces

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

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

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Consider Offering Eco-Friendly Options

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

 

Focus on In-Store Sales

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

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

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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.

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4 of the Best Questions to Ask Prospective Furniture Buyers

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

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

  1. How do you feel about your current furniture?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. What other stores and products have you considered?

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

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

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

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

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

Here Are the Top Trends from the Most Recent High Point Market

High Point MarketThe most recent Fall High Point Market wrapped up on October 18, 2017, closing out five days of collection debuts, style presentations, networking events, and several other exciting opportunities for the home furnishings industry. This year, over 80,000 people visited the International Market Center in High Point, North Carolina, to survey the emerging products and styles that are taking the industry by storm. With the highly anticipated event now behind us, it’s time to take a moment to summarize the trends that dominated the Fall 2017 High Point Market.

Shapes

Several showrooms featured pieces with unique forms and profiles. These furnishings represented new takes on traditional styles and offered shoppers a fresh way to breathe life into the home’s major living spaces. Showcased products included many sectional sofas that deviated from the traditional L-shaped form. To change things up, brands including Christopher Guy, Lee, and Highland House presented sectionals with more gradual curves, sloping backs, and finer geometric angles. Some pieces, such as the Epidote sofa designed by Jean-Louis Deniot for Baker, featured an in-the-round shape, offering a unique focal point sure to facilitate conversation in any living room.

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Market attendees surveying the trends in dining furniture were likely to notice an influx of elongated, oval dining tables. While round and rectangular pieces have prevailed in recent years, oval tables are now adding interest to both casual and formal dining areas. Some, such as Hickory Chair’s table with ornate wood inlays, would be right at home in a traditional formal dining area. Others, such as Made Goods’ table featuring a smooth concrete surface atop light wood legs, convey a more laidback, modern aesthetic.

Colors

AkzoNobel, a trusted resource for furniture coatings, took on the lofty responsibility of presenting the official color of 2018. The firm selected “Heartwood,” a soft pink shade frequently seen in both apparel and home décor in recent years, as the hue that will dominate the home furnishings sector in the coming months. The color’s name refers to the dense center portion of a tree, which often shares the same hue.

In addition to Heartwood’s soft, warm shade, several showrooms at the High Point Market featured color schemes that revolved around complementary and near-complementary tones. Combinations of blue and orange, green and violent, and cream and brown dominated several product sectors, adorning everything from throw pillows to light fixtures. These unique color combinations offer consumers and designers an opportunity to add youthful energy to any room, in the form of vibrant and electric patterns.

Materials

Two very different materials have recently achieved growing popularity among furniture retailers and designers. The first, shearling, appeared in the form of upholstered chairs, stools, and ottomans from brands including Nathan Anthony, Mary McDonald at Chaddock, and Hancock & Moore. The plush white material is capable of adding either a modern flair or cozy vintage appeal to a room, depending on the lines and other materials incorporated into the piece.

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Concrete was also a common staple throughout High Point showrooms. The material frequently appeared, perhaps unexpectedly, in light fixtures, providing ample opportunities for dramatic contrast. Popular pieces blended the smooth, stark appearance of stone with soft lighting, graceful lights, and even plants, in the case of a combination table lamp and planter designed by Currey & Company. Going forward, shoppers should expect to see plenty of hanging pendant lights, table lamps, and additional light fixtures adding a modern pop of texture to rooms throughout the home.

Styles

A few noteworthy aesthetic styles appeared across a number of different showrooms. Many brands showcased a thoughtful blend of historic and modern styles by allowing wood tones such as cherry and mahogany to dominate their designs, placing the focus on the beauty of the materials themselves by allowing distressed details to shine through. Many designers took this tendency toward natural materials a bit farther, featuring weathered, organic, and handcrafted pieces that convey beauty through their imperfections.

Contrasting with this shift toward natural and artisan styles, several furniture designers highlighted the emerging interest in modern Scandinavian furnishings, which provide a light and airy appeal with clean lines and brighter wood tones. Furniture bathed in pearl and metallic finishes, frequently paired with stark angles, mixed materials, and accents of gold and silver, also filled showrooms.

High Point Market’s Trend Watch program, which offers an annual overview of the styles to pay attention to at each upcoming market, also noted a growing interest in dramatic curation. Increasingly, home décor selections suggest a desire for personal expression, whether on the part of designers or home owners. Innovative and eye-catching light fixtures, chairs, tabletop decorations, wall hangings, and other pieces are providing opportunities for consumers to make their home truly their own. Reflecting this trend, interior design schemes are featuring less emphasis on cohesiveness and instead showcasing unique pieces that, while complementary, offer a vibrancy all their own.