Technology

furniture

10 Furniture and Design Trends That Will Be Big in 2019

With the new year, it’s time to examine the latest trends that are shaping the look of furniture and home décor. Some of the trending styles from 2018 will stay strong through 2019, but others are just emerging in the world of design. Many design trends from decades past are also coming back in style as more people look to add some personality to their living spaces. Still, there are plenty of modern design features that continue to grow in popularity along with the increase in urban living and concern over the environment. In no particular order, here are 10 of the top trends to watch for throughout 2019 and beyond.

 

  1. Retro Chic

Today’s dynamic interiors are fully embracing retro colors and shapes, particularly those from the ’60s and ’70s. The long-lasting “boho chic” style remains quite popular and fits in perfectly with emerging retro trends. Some of this retro styling is showing up in the form of curved throwback furniture and velvet upholstery fabric, which has made a triumphant return to the design scene in recent years.

 

  1. Natural Materials

While smart furniture and tech-focused design were big in 2018, people have started to shift gears a bit to embrace a more natural look within their homes. Wood, stones such as granite and quartzite, and even concrete are all on-trend in 2019. Other materials to look for include natural fabrics on upholstered furniture, cushions, and tapestries.

living room

 

  1. More Metal

An ever-popular material for fixtures, furniture, and accent pieces, metal will continue to feature prominently in interiors. However, the use of metal is changing somewhat to include more innovative designs. A shift is also occurring away from rose gold, polished nickel, and stainless steel toward new favorites such as copper, brass, and blackened metals.

 

  1. Multifunctional and Compact Furniture

A rise in urban living among Millennials and other demographics has led to greater demand for flexible furniture that is easy to move and serves more than one purpose. Stackable seating, expandable and foldable tables, and convertible sofas are just a few of the furniture pieces whose popularity will continue to grow in the coming months. These space-saving solutions are great for those with tight living quarters and small apartments, but they’re also perfect for people embracing minimalism and clean lines in homes of all sizes.

 

  1. Art Deco

Despite a move toward smaller living spaces, many people still crave luxury and glamour in their homes. This craving for a touch of opulence is driving a renewed interest in Art Deco design, which many designers believe will become quite popular in 2019. Watch for hints of Art Deco in textile designs and furniture silhouettes, as well as in furniture colors and detailing.

 

  1. Cozy Beds and Bedrooms

It’s safe to say that many people would list their bed among their favorite furniture items in their home. More than just a spot for sleeping, a bed provides a sense of comfort and safety, and more people are looking to turn theirs into the ultimate oasis for relaxation. You can expect to see more beds featuring headboards and footboards covered in comfortable upholstery. Canopy beds are also growing in popularity as the trend toward cozier bedrooms continues to gain steam.

4 post bed

 

  1. Bold Colors

Although light blushes and timeless black and white furnishings are still in style, many people are getting more adventurous with their color choices. The design palette of 2019 will feature more bold colors on walls and furniture. Some of the hues to look for include deep greens, striking yellows, and tonal reds.

 

  1. Geometric Patterns

Geometric patterns are certainly not a new design trend, but many experts are expecting to see a different type of geometric design rise to prominence in 2019. Oversized patterns featuring asymmetrical shapes and bold colors are becoming increasingly popular, thanks in part to the fact that many people are looking to bring a jolt of energy into their living spaces. Those who aren’t quite ready to embrace bold patterns on walls or larger furniture can still cash in on the trending look with geometric throws, pillows, and other accents.

 

  1. Matte Finishes

In 2018, matte black finishes emerged as the top trending finish choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Those who appreciate the sleek look will be glad to know that matte black is likely to stay on-trend throughout 2019. You can expect to see it on flooring, seating, lighting, and home décor items. Matte finishes on other colors are also growing in popularity as a choice for dressers, sideboards, and other furniture.

 

  1. Sustainability

Within the last decade or so, a growing demand for sustainable products has emerged in many industries, including home furnishings. Along with the trend favoring wood, stone, and other natural elements, 2019 will see more people looking for sustainable décor items made of materials such as jute, rice paper, bamboo, and clay. Sustainable furniture and textiles comprising eco-friendly fabrics will also be part of the trend.

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ecommerce

Here Are the Top Qualities of an Excellent Retail Website

It should come as no surprise that it’s critical for furniture retailers to have an effective website to be successful in today’s market. The home furnishings industry as a whole has been somewhat slow to embrace certain technologies, but retailers can’t deny the power of the Internet. Maintaining a presence online is now more important than ever as consumers continue to turn to the web to communicate with friends and family, keep up with the news, and connect with all types of businesses.

Whether you’ve just gotten started or your business is already well-established online, there a few things you can do to ensure that you stand out among other retailers on the web.

Read on for some of the top features of a standout website.

 

Effective Design

Design is important for all websites, but those that offer items for purchase need to ensure that the products are the star of the show. Regardless of whether yours is an e-commerce site or not, the focus should be on the sofas, chairs, tables, beds, and other furniture items you offer. Typically, a sleek, simple design is more effective than a layout with a host of effects that may distract from the products.

online shopping

However, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to add some “wow factor” elements that can stimulate consumers visually and draw their eyes to promotions and call-to-actions. The best website designs showcase new and popular products while making it easy for consumers to find and browse the specific items they’re looking for.

 

Simple Navigation

With effective design and layout, navigating through your website should be simple, logical, and intuitive. Prospective customers who are browsing your products online are often in a hurry, and nothing will kill a potential sale more quickly than a frustrating user experience. In fact, studies have shown that over three-quarters of all consumers cite ease of use as the most important characteristic of any website.

On yours, be sure that product categories are clearly labeled, and don’t hesitate to include filters and comparison capabilities to help users narrow down their search. For retailers of daily use products like furniture, it’s also a good idea to feature easy-to-find customer reviews and FAQs that can assist buyers in their purchasing decision.

 

Search Capabilities

Simple navigation will go a long way toward helping your customers find what they’re looking for, but some will still run into trouble locating certain products. This is particularly true of larger sites featuring several product categories that all contain a variety of options. A simple sitewide search function can help customers get right to the product they want without having to wade through multiple links along the way.

In addition to offering site-wide search capabilities, giving site visitors the ability to check the inventory in your brick-and-mortar store is also worth the investment. Often, the main purpose of a furniture retail website is to get shoppers into a physical location. Enabling customers to see what’s in their local showroom can definitely help accomplish this goal. If you offer an inventory look-up function on your website, however, be sure that it is current with accurate pricing and availability information.

 

Eye-Catching Visual Content

You can’t sell anything online without quality photos that clearly and accurately display your product offerings. Text can be effective, but images are what matter most in the modern age. It’s also important to remember that today’s consumers have come to expect multi-media visual content that gives them the ability to see products from multiple angles and in different environments. To make the most of your website, offer several high-resolution photos of each product and make sure they are optimized to reduce page-load times, which plays an important role in keeping consumers engaged.

Along with quality photos, effective websites use animation and other visual content to drive attention and quickly tell a story. Eye-catching logos, menus, and banners can improve engagement even further and keep customers on your site for longer. Partnering with a proven website developer can help you put all of your visual content together most effectively.

 

checkout cart

 

Simple Checkouts

If you give customers the ability to buy items through your website, it’s crucial that you make the checkout process as simple as possible. While maintaining security, avoid over-complicating things with too many steps that can lead users to abandon their shopping cart (which happens with nearly 70 percent of all online transactions). Don’t forget to include an easy-to-find shopping cart icon to help speed up the purchasing process.

It’s also a good idea to offer advanced payment options and ensure that customers know what payment methods you accept before proceeding with their purchase. Of course, credit and debit cards are the most common forms of accepted payment, but you may also consider accepting PayPal, Apple Pay, gift vouchers, cash on delivery, and even bitcoin.

tiny home

How to Make the Most of Your Small Living Area

Whether you reside in an apartment, tiny home, or just an older home with a small living room, furnishing and decorating the space can present a challenge. Finding furniture that will fit in a tight area can be difficult enough, but then you have to tackle the task of arranging items in a way that is inviting, comfortable, and stylish. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an interior designer to turn your apartment or cramped family room into a great living space. With a little creativity and planning, anyone can make the most of every square foot in their home.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Think about the essentials

If you’re tight on space and ready to improve the look and feel of your home, it’s a good idea to start with the essentials. The items you can use will depend on the space, but to make your living area functional, you’ll need a few crucial pieces. You’ll definitely need seating along with some sort of table that can provide a usable surface for you and your guests. Also, don’t forget to think about what type of storage you’ll need in the space. Once you’ve determined what is essential, you can decide on the exact pieces to use and where to put them.

 

tiny home

Image courtesy Inhabitat | Flickr

 

Consider your seating carefully

When furnishing a living area, seating is often the first thing that people think about. For those with a cramped space, the options can seem limited, but that isn’t necessarily the case. It’s all about assessing your needs and then getting creative. Of course, loveseats and smaller sofas are the logical choices, but you don’t have to rule out larger options.

If you need seating for several people or just want ample room to stretch out, it may be possible to bring a sectional into the space. When combined with the right pieces, a sectional that hugs the walls can make a small room feel cozy and inviting rather than crowded and overwhelming. Other options to consider include a sleeper sofa or sofa bed, which are perfect for those who need to optimize every inch of their living area.

 

Invest in multi-functional and flexible pieces

In addition to sleeper sofas, a number of other furniture pieces can save space by serving double duty in your home. Coffee tables with built-in storage or adjustable height may be worth the investment, as are nesting tables that can be “stacked” or fully extended when needed. You can even find couches, chairs, and small accent tables with drawers and compartments for keeping clutter from overwhelming a tiny room.

If you lack the resources to buy new furniture, don’t be afraid to get creative with the pieces you already have. Consider using your dining set for extra seating or putting your desk to work as an accent table. Bookcases and shelving can also double as room dividers in studio apartments and other small combined living areas.

 

Add functionality and personality with accessories

You may have limited space, but that doesn’t mean you need to skimp on the accent pieces. Don’t hesitate to add some personality to the area with rugs, pillows, and ottomans. Instead of table lamps, consider lighting the space with eye-catching floor lamps, which can add visual interest while freeing up surfaces for other items.

Photos, trinkets, and keepsakes can also add life to your small living area. Rather than feeling cluttered, a room that is carefully designed with personal items can feel larger because the eye is drawn into every area of the space.

 

tiny house

Image courtesy Nicolás Boullosa | Flickr

 

Use design to your advantage

While you’re accessorizing, be sure to do so with design in mind. Whenever possible, do your best to use visual tricks to make the space feel larger than it is. Ceiling-to-floor curtains and tall shelving units can elongate the space, while linear prints on an area rug can add width.

Also, consider opting for clear coffee tables and accent furniture with delicate frames to cut down on visual clutter. A classic design trick, strategically placed mirrors reflect light and make a small room feel open and airy.

 

Don’t waste space

This final tip may seem overly obvious, but it is far too easy to underutilize what little space you have. Overlooked areas such as windowsills provide a perfect spot for books, houseplants, and decorative objects. If you need extra storage, look for hidden space in corners and under coffee tables and sofas.

When space is at a premium, it’s also important to think vertically. You can free up more room by opting for stacked storage and using any available wall space for extra shelving. If you want to create a sleek look in your small room, consider the benefits of floating shelves, which give you a spot for books and other items without taking up valuable floor space.

Quick and Easy Tips to Protect and Clean Your Furniture

Furniture can be a significant investment for many families. Picking out the right pieces for your home can also be a time-consuming process. Once you’ve found that perfect table, chair, or sofa, it’s important that you protect it with regular cleaning and care. Your furniture will likely see a lot of use over the years, but you can keep it looking great without too much effort. The following tips will help you do this.

 

General Furniture Care Tips

Regardless of the type of materials your furniture is made of, there are some things you can do to care for any piece. Here are a few general tips to remember:

sofa

 

  1. Read the care label.

Most new furniture, especially upholstered pieces, will include a care label with information on how to clean and maintain the item. If your furniture has one of these labels, read it so that you know how to clean the piece without damaging it.

 

  1. Avoid direct sunlight and heat.

With excessive heat and sunlight, the color of your furniture upholstery can fade, and your wood pieces may dry out and crack. If possible, keep all of your furniture away from heating sources as well as windows. You can also use a window film to protect furniture in brightly lit rooms.

 

  1. Rearrange from time to time.

Moving your furniture regularly is one easy way to keep pieces from being overexposed to heat, sunlight, and other environmental elements. It also gives you a chance to clean in hard-to-reach areas.

 

  1. Lift, don’t drag.

When you move your furniture, be sure to safely lift the item instead of dragging it across the floor. Dragging can break furniture legs, rip upholstery, and damage floor coverings.

 

  1. Protect surfaces.

Using coasters, placemats, and tablecloths is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to protect your furniture. It’s also a good idea to use a protective pad when writing with a ballpoint pen on furniture surfaces.

 

Protecting Wooden Furniture

Wooden furniture is a timeless option that can look great in any design scheme. Most wooden pieces are also durable, but how long they last depends on how you care for them. To keep your furniture woods looking great, follow these tips:

wood furniture

 

  1. You must dust.

Regular dusting keeps wood surfaces shiny and helps avoid the buildup of abrasive material that can cause scratches. Dust every few days or so, and be sure to use a cloth that is soft, dry, and clean.

 

  1. Mind the chemicals.

Cleaners that contain ammonia can damage wooden furniture. It’s also important to avoid products with silicone and excess alcohol, which can harm wood surfaces. In most cases, it’s best to wipe down any truly dirty spots with a damp cloth that’s been soaked in warm, soapy water, then wrung out so it’s not dripping wet. Repeat as needed, then dry the area with a clean cloth.

 

  1. Avoid moisture.

When cleaning wood, be sure not to use too much water. Excessive moisture can lead to mildew, warping, and other problems. For this reason, wooden furniture should not be placed in bathrooms or laundry rooms.

 

  1. Keep the polishing to a minimum.

Despite popular opinion, regular polishing does not create a protective layer on wooden furniture. It does add shine, but it also makes surfaces more slippery and can cause a buildup of residue. Very oily products can show every fingerprint, too. Cut the polishing back to once or twice a year.

 

  1. Make timely repairs.

Repairing damage quickly will ensure that a minor issue does not become a major problem. If the damage is beyond your repair skills, call a professional for help. Doing so will save money in the long run.

 

Caring for and Cleaning Leather and Upholstery

Upholstered and leather furniture often gets a lot of use. Children, pets, and life in general can take a toll on sofas, chairs, and other pieces, but caring for them doesn’t have to be complicated. Just follow a few care tips, and you can keep them looking great.

leather furniture

 

  1. Always test cleaning products.

When using a new cleaning product, test it in an inconspicuous area before spot cleaning. This will help you avoid ruining the material with something more unsightly than a simple stain.

 

  1. Blot, don’t wipe.

When you spot clean, avoid using a wiping or scrubbing motion, which can spread the stain and work it deeper into the fabric. Instead, gently blot from the inside to the outside of the stain.

 

  1. Use a leather conditioner.

A barely damp, soft towel is all you need to clean up messes on leather surfaces. To keep leather looking and feeling great for many years, it’s also important to apply leather conditioner every six to 12 months.

 

  1. Flip and rotate cushions.

Rotating cushions once a week will help evenly distribute wear. While you’re at it, take a minute to fluff your cushions and don’t forget to vacuum in order to keep dirt from becoming embedded in the upholstery fibers.

 

  1. Know your upholstery cleaning codes.

Many manufacturers provide cleaning codes on care tags to help people clean the item properly. For example, Ashley Furniture has 13 universal cleaning codes for its products. Knowing what these codes mean will help you with your regular furniture cleaning.

interior

How to Easily Break up Your Open Living Space

A relatively new trend in residential construction and design, the open floor plan started to catch on in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century. Prior to the 1950s, most American homes featured a much more divided layout dominated by smaller spaces and a main hallway connecting them. In this traditional floor plan, the kitchen was typically located in the rear of the home. This is because it was viewed as a utilitarian space that was off-limits to guests.

Today’s open-plan concept, which started growing in popularity around the 1990s, brought the kitchen into the center of the home alongside the dining room and living room. The merging of these three areas creates an open, casual living space that is great for entertaining and socializing as a family.

While an open floor plan comes with several advantages, it is certainly not without its drawbacks. In addition to largely eliminating private living spaces, an open layout can appear cluttered and be more difficult to keep clean.

Combining the kitchen, dining room, and living room into one shared space also leads to design challenges. Without physical separation, an open floor plan can look and feel a bit chaotic. Fortunately, creating clearly defined spaces can be quite simple with a little creativity and the right furniture and design elements. Here’s how to do it:

 

furniture

 

Embrace Symmetry

When separating areas in an open-space layout, it’s wise to start by creating a balanced look using your largest furniture pieces. The classic living room design featuring two matching sofas facing each other is perfect for open floor plans because it uses symmetry to clearly define the space. Complementing the area with a large dining room table and matching chairs adds to the design while enhancing functionality.

Alongside the large furniture pieces, you can create even more symmetrical definition by adding matching chairs and paired-up accessories such as lamps, mirrors, and framed art. Be sure to avoid cluttering the area and don’t hinder the traffic flow from one living space to the next.

 

Use Rugs to Establish Conversation Spaces

In an open floor plan, rugs can be your best friend. In addition to complementing your layout, area rugs are the ideal solution for demarcating conversation spaces while also adding warmth and character to what could otherwise be a large, empty, and cold area. Rugs also guide foot traffic and create subtle visual boundaries that don’t interfere with eye-level design elements.

When using multiple rugs in an open living space, you can opt for matching pieces or go with a more eclectic layout by mixing colors, patterns, and textures. Don’t forget to carefully consider the look of your furniture and the overall design scheme of the room when deciding which rug(s) will work best in the space.

 

Choose Color Wisely

An open layout gives you the opportunity to use color in creative ways. Color can be used for two distinct purposes: to create a cohesive look or establish clearly defined spaces. If you’re looking to create definition with color, don’t be afraid to go bold with colorful accent walls, furniture, and accessories. You can tie everything together with a unifying neutral background that flows from one area to the next.

If you find it difficult to determine when to start and stop applying color, you can instead choose to keep all walls and architectural elements the same hue. Another option is the tone-on-tone approach. This enables you to add subtle contrasts while sticking with a coherent color palette.

furniture

 

Invest in Open Shelving and Room Dividers

Room dividers provide an easy solution for those who want to break up their open living area. While products such as folding screens and curtains can be used for this purpose, you can get creative without comprising the overall flow of the space. Consider using open shelving and other see-through storage solutions to define a room’s boundaries while preventing the area from feeling too closed in.

Other clever options include multipurpose partitions that double as a space for planters. For added texture and character, use see-through wooden partitions with striking geometric patterns. Whatever the style, it’s always a good idea to choose freestanding dividers that can be moved as needed.

 

Don’t Cut Corners

One of the best things about an open floor plan is that it gives you the option to divide the living area as you see fit. When delineating the space, don’t overlook the corners because they can be used in a variety of ways. If your great room’s current layout seems lacking, consider creating a cozy corner reading nook or perpendicular dining area.

A corner can also provide a small conversation space or study area. Even if your corners can’t be used for these purposes, try to get the most out of the space by adding shelves, artwork, or extra storage to often-overlooked corner areas.

business

Traditional Marketing Actually Matters in the New Digital Age

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

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

 

Traditional Marketing Channels for Furniture Retailers

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

mail

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Tips to Consider

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

post office

 

  1. Target the right audience.

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

 

  1. Run multiple advertisements.

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

 

  1. Be creative.

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

 

  1. Reach out to the community.

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

pinterest

What You Should Know about Using Pinterest for Social Marketing

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

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

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

 

pinterest

 

Why Furniture Retailers Should Take Pinterest Seriously

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

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

 

Tips for Using Pinterest as a Marketing Tool

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

 

  • Create a visual experience.

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

 

  • Don’t forget about searchable keywords.

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

 

  • Use Pinterest’s specialized pins.

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

Your Easy How-to Guide for Protecting Your Patio Furniture

Unless you live in a locale that offers warm year-round temperatures, there inevitably comes a time when you have to retreat to the indoors after enjoying your outdoor living areas throughout the spring and summer months.

More and more people today are bringing the indoors outside with the help of modern and stylish patio furniture and accessories from retailers like Ashley HomeStore. These quality products are durable and built for the outdoors. However, there are still several actions you can take to keep them looking their best season after season.

Take some extra time now to prepare your outdoor furniture for the snow and cold winter weather. Doing so means your chairs, tables, sofas, and accessories will be ready for you when the temperature starts to rise once again. Keep reading to learn what to do to prep your outdoor furniture for winter time.

 

How to Get Started

Before you do anything else, it’s a good idea to start the winter-prep process by organizing and cleaning your outdoor living areas. Put away anything you’re not using and clear some space on your patio or deck so that you can give your furniture a good cleaning. Furniture pieces that are left dirty over the winter can be very difficult to clean later. They may even become damaged from mold or mildew growth.

You can avoid these issues by spraying your furniture with a hose and scrubbing down any stubborn spots. A mild solution of dish soap and water is typically safe to use on most materials. However, you should be sure to check with your furniture’s manufacturer for specific instructions. Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned everything, let it all air dry in the sun before moving on to the next steps.

chairs

 

Protecting Materials against Moisture and Cold Temperatures

Although manufacturers design most outdoor furniture pieces to be weather-resistant, they may feature paints, stains, and protective coatings that can degrade over time. If these layers of protection start to fail, your furniture can become vulnerable to damage from harsh weather conditions. Here are some tips for protecting outdoor furniture materials from the elements:

 

Metal

Aluminum and wrought iron are two of the most common metals used in outdoor furniture. You can periodically apply a coat of automobile wax to extend the life of the protective coatings on both these metals. If you see any scratches or rust, gently brush or sand the area and apply a rust-inhibitive paint to keep the damage from spreading.

 

Wood

Even treated or rot-resistant wood won’t last forever. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that help ensure that your pieces look good and remain functional for many years. Like a wood deck, outdoor wood tables and chairs need to be treated with a water-repellant stain every other year or so. This protects against cracking and eventual failure. If you want your wood furniture to maintain its color, you’ll also want to regularly apply a new coat of paint after the original begins to fade.

 

Plastic

Plastic furniture is generally easier to care for than metal or wood pieces because it doesn’t absorb water. It is prone to cracking in cold temperatures, however. For this reason, most manufacturers recommend that you either cover or move plastic furniture indoors during the winter months.

 

Cushions and Fabrics

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Staining is the most common issue that you’ll have to deal with on your outdoor cushions and upholstery. Keeping these items clean may require more than one washing a season. It’s also important to make any necessary repairs to holes and ripped seams. In most cases, it’s best to store your outdoor cushions indoors or somewhere under cover when they aren’t being used.

 

Don’t Forget about the Accessories

In addition to outdoor furniture sets and individual pieces, you likely have at least a few accessories that you’ll need to prepare for the winter. Like pillows and cushions, umbrellas will need to be cleaned with mild soap and water. Your umbrella may also need to be repaired from time to time. As long as it is collapsed, a patio umbrella can withstand some harsh weather conditions. However, you’ll definitely want to put it away before the snow starts to fall.

Don’t forget about other items you may have in your yard, including hammocks. If you have a cotton hammock hanging somewhere outside, it’s especially important to bring it indoors because the fall and winter weather will likely ruin it. Hammocks made of synthetic materials are more durable than cotton hammocks, but they are also prone to damage. It’s probably best to just to take them inside during the colder months.

 

Cover and Store

Cleaning and maintaining your patio furniture will go a long way toward protecting it. However, the best protection comes when your furniture is properly covered and/or stored away from the elements. If possible, put your pieces away in a shed or garage under cover to protect them from dust and mildew.

If you don’t have the storage space, just do your best to properly cover furniture with commercial furniture covers or even a waterproof tarp secured with a rope or bungee cord. Remember, any extra protection you can add will help ensure that your outdoor furniture lasts as long as possible.

speech

Your Complete Guide to the 2018 NEXT Conference

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

How to Register

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

 

Where to Stay and How to Get Around

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

Moody Theater

Image courtesy Todd Dwyer | Flickr

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

 

Lineup of Speakers

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

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

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

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

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

 

What Attendees Can Expect to Learn at the NEXT Conference

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

 

Opportunities for Networking and Socializing

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

business

9 of the Most Successful Entrepreneurs Who Started with Little Money

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

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

 

  1. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Image courtesy Andrea Omizzolo | Flickr

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

 

  1. Henry Ford

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

 

  1. John Pemberton

John Pemberton

Image courtesy justiny8s | Flickr

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

 

  1. Roxanne Quimby and Burt Shavitz

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

 

  1. Sam Walton

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

 

  1. Daymond John

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

 

  1. Sophia Amoruso

Sophia Amoruso

Image courtesy TechCrunch | Flickr

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

 

  1. David Packard and William Redington Hewlett

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

 

  1. Kevin Plank

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