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furniture

Top Reasons for Ashley Furniture’s Amazing Success

AshleyFurnitureAlthough there are a number of major players in the US furniture market, Ashley Furniture stands out from the rest. The American furniture manufacturer and retailer has a history dating back to 1945, but the company’s rise to the top of the industry began in 1970 when current chairman Ron Wanek launched a small furniture manufacturing operation in Arcadia, Wisconsin. Since then, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., has grown to become an international company operating in more than 120 countries around the world.

In addition to its role as the world’s largest furniture manufacturer, the company is also the largest furniture retailer in North America. The first Ashley HomeStore opened its doors in 1997, and two decades later, Ashley celebrated the opening of its 700th store location. Today, Ashley HomeStores bring in $3.8 billion in annual sales, nearly twice as much as its closest competitor.

The success of Ashley Furniture and its growth from a relatively unknown brand into a household name are not simply the result of good fortune. Ashley’s commitment to being the best furniture company in the world drives its success and continues to shape its daily operations.

Here’s a look at what makes Ashley Furniture a dominant industry leader:

 

Quality Products

From day one, Ashley Furniture Industries has focused on providing customers with top-quality home furnishings. The company’s manufacturing process begins with skilled engineers and designers who travel worldwide to find the latest trends, materials, and technologies. Then, every material and design is tested in Ashley’s state-of-the-art physical testing labs to ensure that it meets the company’s quality standards.

Ashley Furniture’s manufacturing practices and technologies ensure that each product produced is in line with the company’s goal to offer customers exceptional out-of-the-box quality at an affordable price. Ashley also partners with best-in-class suppliers and strives to hire disciplined and committed employees to keep quality at the heart of everything it does.

The company’s focus on operational and manufacturing excellence also supports its efforts to provide stylish, durable furnishings for the entire home. Today, Ashley customers can choose from items across 19 product categories, including bedroom, outdoor, home office, and entertainment.

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Commitment to Efficiency

As part of its mission to improve quality, reduce costs, and increase business, Ashley Furniture works toward continuous improvement by employing innovative production equipment and lean manufacturing principles at its US facilities in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi. The company’s patented assembly methods and streamlined systems support the Ashley team of manufacturing workers as they produce over 50,000 units each day.

Ashley’s commitment to efficiency extends from the factory floor to every area of the supply chain. In 1972, Ron Wanek established Ashley Logistics to manage the transportation and delivery of the company’s products. The Ashley fleet now comprises over 800 vehicles and 3,500 trailers that enable the company to move and deliver more than 30 million pieces of furniture each year. The fleet utilizes an advanced dispatch and routing system that ensures on-time delivery to customers in nearly every part of North America. Ashley is capable of delivering products to US customers in two days or less, a service that no other furniture company in the country can match.

In addition to speeding up production and delivery, Ashley’s efficient manufacturing processes and delivery systems translate into savings for customers. Providing customers with quality products on time and at an exceptional value is in line with the company’s growth-focused efforts to not only stay in business, but also increase profitability over the long term.

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Focus on People and Community

With the understanding that any company is only as good as its employees, Ashley Furniture invests in its people through job skills training and management coaching, as well as direct communication and support. Once a person accepts a position with Ashley, he or she receives job-specific training in manufacturing, distribution, and logistics. All employees have the opportunity for continued professional development as they work toward higher levels of leadership within the company.

Those who attain leadership positions at Ashley continue to develop their professional competencies through the Wanek School of Business Leadership. Ashley leaders take part in online learning and classroom education programs while taking on challenging job assignments that sharpen their skills. Throughout the process, they also receive feedback, personal coaching, and mentoring from other experienced Ashley leaders. All these activities support ongoing employee improvement.

Along with investing in its employees, Ashley Furniture gives back to the communities it serves. The company supports local economies and contributes millions of dollars each year to national charities and nonprofit groups, including City of Hope, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the American Heart Association. Ashley also supports local education programs serving students from grade school through college. Ashley’s work in the community is part of its efforts to make a positive impact while advancing its business goals as North America’s furniture leader.

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furniture

This Is What Is Happening Right Now in Furniture Manufacturing

Over the last several years, the furniture and home furnishings industry in the United States has enjoyed steady growth, thanks to an improving economy that has given consumers more disposable income. Growth in the industry began in 2009, and the latest figures show that it is likely to continue for at least the near future. Retail experts project that US furniture sales will experience a 3 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach $122 billion by 2020. Globally, the furniture and flooring market is forecast to reach $695 billion by 2019.

Of course, the projected growth in the industry has furniture retailers, distributors, and manufacturers optimistic, but industry professionals are also facing new challenges that are changing how they approach furniture design and marketing. It’s important for furniture manufacturers in particular to stay on top of the latest industry trends so that they can create products that will satisfy retailers and, ultimately, consumers.

To satisfy consumers, manufacturers must be aware of their demographics, lifestyle choices, and buying preferences. These factors help shape the industry by influencing how furniture is made and sold. Read on for an overview of what’s happening in the furniture industry and how it affects the work of manufacturers.

 

Millennials Are Driving the Market

While the furniture market also comprises generation Xers, baby boomers, and seniors, the majority of today’s furniture shoppers are millennials. As one of the largest groups of homebuyers in the United States, the generation spends billions on furniture and bedding each year. In addition to changing the way that retailers market their furniture, millennials are affecting how and what type of furniture is manufactured.

The generation prefers modern pieces with unique designs and tech-friendly features to the more traditional furniture that their parents likely own. Also unlike their parents, many millennials value affordability over durability and aren’t overly concerned with how long a specific piece will last. The generation prefers decorative, disposable furniture that they can use for 10 years or less before replacing it with something else. Manufacturers are meeting this demand by using materials and design processes that enable them to balance quality with affordability.

 

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Quicker Delivery Is in High Demand

Along with affecting how much they’re willing to pay for a new piece, millennials’ and other modern consumers’ attitudes toward furniture affects how long they are willing to wait for furniture they’ve purchased. This demand for quick delivery is leading many furniture manufacturers to streamline their operations.

According to the results of a 2018 industry survey, American upholstered furniture manufacturers consider reducing delivery times to be one of their most pressing challenges. To do this, more manufacturers are using technologies such as computer numerically controlled cutting (CNC) machines during the manufacturing process. Implementing better employee-training practices is also part of many manufacturers’ plans to speed up the time it takes them to deliver their products to market.

 

More Consumers Are Renting

Home sales may be increasing nationwide, but a large percentage of Americans are still renters. In fact, a recent report from the Pew Research Center showed that over 36 percent of households rented in 2016.

Although there are various reasons as to why a person may choose to rent over owning a home, money is a common factor. With less money to spend, many renters are similar to other modern consumers in valuing affordable furniture. Some renters are also tight on space, leading them to seek smaller and/or multipurpose pieces for their homes. Smart manufacturers today are creating inexpensive, streamlined furniture that appeals to the country’s large population of budget- and space-conscious renters.

 

Online Retail Continues to Grow

The growth of online retail continues to provide new opportunities for both furniture sellers and furniture manufacturers. Companies on the manufacturing side of the industry now have the ability to sell to retailers that aren’t limited to a specific geographic area. Some manufacturers are also increasing their efforts to create innovative furniture pieces that ship easily. This includes ready-to-assemble furniture, which is experiencing a revival in popularity in the United States. Despite the increase in furniture e-commerce, however, most furniture buyers still prefer to shop in-store.

 

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Retailers Are Catering to Environmentally Conscious Shoppers

A growing demand for sustainable products is leading many furniture retailers to carry eco-friendly pieces in their showrooms. Like many other market trends, millennials are driving the interest in green furniture, but people of all ages are looking for ways to decrease their carbon footprint.

Furniture manufacturers may have different definitions of what constitutes sustainable furniture, but for most, it includes pieces that use recycled and/or responsibly sourced materials, such as certified wood and natural fabrics. Sustainable furniture is also created using efficient manufacturing practices that reduce the company’s water and energy usage. Many of today’s furniture manufacturers focus on the green furniture market as part of a business strategy to increase profits while protecting the planet.

 

letters

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.

e-mail

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.

phone

8 of the Best Tips for Successful SMS Marketing

Marketing via short message service (SMS) offers furniture retailers and other business owners with the opportunity to send customers permission-based text messages highlighting upcoming sales, product promotions, and in-store events. In addition to providing a cost-effective way to reach customers, SMS marketing can help to generate leads and track consumer preferences.

One of the main reasons why SMS should be part of any business’ marketing strategy is the fact that so many people use text messaging on a daily basis. Outside of face-to-face conversation, texting is one of the most commonly used forms of communication in the United States.

The preference for communicating via text has led many US consumers to expect messaging from the businesses that they support. Consumers have also shown a willingness to read the messages that businesses send. In fact, the open rate of promotions and offers sent via text is approximately 98 percent. Compare that to the 22 percent of promotional emails that are read, and it’s easy to see why SMS marketing makes sense for retail businesses. Fortunately, launching an effective SMS campaign to boost your business’ success can be relatively simple with a few pieces of practical advice.

 

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  1. Respect Your Customer

It’s important for business owners to understand that sending business text messages to customers who have not agreed to receive them is not only bad form — it’s also illegal. You should respect potential customers and the law by ensuring that you invite users to opt into an SMS messaging list using an automated agreement form or another method. When someone agrees to receive messages, business owners can add another layer of transparency by sending a confirmation message that provides information detailing when and how often texts will be sent and what kind of content they’ll contain.

 

  1. Provide a Reason to Opt In

Recent surveys have found that approximately 90 percent of today’s consumers would like to use text messaging to communicate with businesses. Just because consumers are willing to use business messaging, however, does not mean that they’re ready to have their phones flooded with useless information. Offering value in the form of exclusive deals, purchase and delivery updates, and relevant news will provide users with motivation to opt in and even look forward to receiving business messages.

 

  1. Make It Easy to Unsubscribe

While this may seem counterintuitive, providing customers with an easy way to opt out of future messages is a good practice for any SMS campaign. Businesses that do their job of offering value-based messages will not likely see a large number of users opting out just because it’s easy to do so. Ensuring that subscribers have the ability to opt out is also required by law.

 

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  1. Don’t Waste Characters

Getting to the point quickly is important when you consider that each message must be limited to only 160 characters. Be sure to make every character count by using concise language to provide value and build customer relationships. Use short words whenever possible and ensure that the message leads with a compelling statement. Ultimately, the goal of SMS marketing is to motivate customers to act, so it’s also important to use some of the available characters for a direct call to action.

 

  1. Recognize the Importance of Timing and Frequency

In addition to being annoying, a text message sent in the middle of the night isn’t going to encourage many people to act on an offer. The most effective SMS campaigns use timely messages sent during regular business hours. It’s also important for business owners to manage the frequency of their messages so that users remain engaged, but not overloaded with updates and offers. One text per week is a good idea for most retail businesses.

 

  1. Focus on Personalization

The ability to personalize messages is one of the top benefits of SMS marketing. While texting already feels more personal than other forms of marketing communication, it can seem even more friendly when a person’s name and location are included in the message. Business owners can also use SMS to customize offers based on their customers’ buying habits and specific interests.

 

  1. Create a Sense of Urgency

Regardless of the content, personalization, and value of a message, there is no guarantee that customers will follow through when actually responding to an offer. Business owners can maximize the chances that they will be able to get people to do what they want by creating a sense of urgency within the message. One of the easiest ways to do so is by promoting an exclusive sale with a looming end date that is clearly communicated in the offer. Using links that send customers to a web page with a countdown timer can also create a sense of urgency.

 

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  1. Use Messaging to Increase Sales

The purpose of any SMS marketing campaign is to improve brand awareness and, ultimately, increase profits. One effective use of SMS messaging is referred to as an “abandoned cart reminder.” Retailers who conduct business online can send this type of message to customers who added items to their cart but did not follow through in actually buying them. Simply helping customers to complete a purchase via SMS can help business owners to improve their bottom line.

bedroom

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.

business

Here’s How to Create Your Perfect Home Office

With nearly 4 million Americans working from home at least half of the time, blending one’s work and one’s living space is becoming increasingly common. Because of this, the home office has evolved from a glorified computer closet lined with a few books into an important and necessary space in many households.

Even those who don’t use their home as a remote workspace appreciate having an area to go to when it’s time to pay bills, send an e-mail, or help the kids with their homework. A home office is also the perfect place to hide away and delve into a new novel. Regardless of how a family uses the space, there are ways to improve the style, comfort, and functionality of a home office with minimal effort.

The following are some simple tips for creating the perfect at-home work area:

 

Start with the Necessities.

While specific needs and style preferences will vary from one person to the next, there are two items that virtually every home office needs: a desk and a chair. No matter how big the area is, these two pieces will serve as a design focal point and provide the main space in which people are likely to do most of their work.

To find a suitable desk, individuals should first consider how much room they have to work with. The next things to think about are functionality and style. If the desk’s main purpose will be to support computer-based activities, then it’s vital to find a piece with features such as built-in wiring holes and a CPU compartment. Those who will do a lot of printing will want to find a desk with storage or enough surface space to accommodate printing equipment, paper, and files.

Pairing the right desk with the perfect chair should really be more about comfort and support rather than aesthetics. Most people do the majority of their work from a sitting position. Therefore, it’s essential to find a chair with ergonomic features such as lumbar support, as well as adjustable armrests and seat height. It’s also a good idea to select a chair that rocks, bounces, tilts, or swivels, because these motions make it easier for people to sit for extended periods.

 

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Consider Personal Needs and Preferences.

When combining the right chair, desk, and office accessories, it’s important to ensure that the space reflects the user’s specific needs and preferences. Along with using paint and décor to improve the office design, incorporating functional pieces can add a bit of style while supporting productivity.

Floor and table lamps are appropriate for any home office, and they often come in a set to provide a tied-together look. Other accessories to consider include anti-fatigue mats, flexible footrests, and adjustable stools, all of which can make those long workdays less stressful on the body and thus, more productive.

Those who prefer to do some of their work from a standing position will find that today’s furniture manufacturers offer a variety of adjustable desks that users can lower and raise to make it easy to alternate between sitting and standing. Some desk options even offer programmable height settings and adjustable electric lifts.

 

Cut the Clutter with Organization and Tech-Friendly Designs.

An easy way to keep papers and other essential items organized is to strategically employ bookshelves, file cabinets, and lift-top coffee tables. Those with a smaller office space can combine hanging file folders and simple storage carts with creative solutions such as baskets, storage cubes, and floating shelves to ensure a clutter-free workspace.

In today’s tech-driven world, people need computers and other electronic devices to stay engaged and on top of work responsibilities. To keep one’s home office looking tidy, however, it’s important to keep any accompanying wires, cords, and accessories, such as chargers, organized and out of sight. This is easily accomplished by using wiring channels, multi-outlet surge protectors, or something as simple as a cable tie. Tech-friendly desks and end tables with built-in electrical outlets, USB ports, and cord compartments are also options for those looking to keep their workspace looking sleek, modern, and uncluttered.

 

home office

 

Keep the Space Flexible.

In addition to ensuring that there is a place for everything, individuals can maximize the space in their home office by embracing a flexible layout that they can easily reorganize to accommodate different work habits and positions. A flexible layout also makes it easier to add or remove furniture and accessories as needed.

For many people, their home office must also serve one or more purposes outside of providing an area for work. Incorporating multifunctional furniture pieces and seating arrangements offers a simple way to keep the space comfortable, functional, and adaptable to the needs of the entire family.

shopping

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.

millennial

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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This Is How Home Entertainment Centers Are Changing

Due to rapid advancements in technology, consumers now have access to an unprecedented number of home entertainment devices. Now, they just need somewhere to put them. The home entertainment furniture sector is growing along with the rest of the industry, expanding by approximately 3.5 percent to reach over $7 billion in sales in 2017. While the portion of the collective home furnishings sector occupied by the entertainment furniture market hasn’t changed, the prevailing styles of entertainment furniture are changing alongside the technology.

Following are some of the major trends shaping design and consumer preferences in the area of entertainment furniture:

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Scaling Down

In general, the physical footprint of entertainment devices in the home is shrinking. As televisions, video game consoles, and other home entertainment devices have become more technologically advanced, their design has become more streamlined, and the number of peripheral accessories required to power them has also declined.

While big-screen flat panel televisions are becoming more affordable and, therefore, more common in American homes, even the most expansive screens now require spaces with minimal depth. These TVs are typically lighter than their recent counterparts, the big-screen rear-projection televisions popular in decades past, allowing consumers to easily mount them on their walls. And while full, multi-speaker surround sound systems are still a staple of the home audio market, more consumers are turning to floor-standing tower speakers or simple pairs of soundbars and subwoofers to heighten their home entertainment experiences while taking up less space.

With the advent of digital cable and the growing number of media streaming services becoming popular among consumers, fewer find themselves searching for a place to set their devices, such as DVD players and cable boxes. New technologies continue to consolidate multiple sources of home entertainment into fewer devices. For example, individuals with a smart TV might require only the television itself and a soundbar to create the ideal entertainment environment.

All of these tech trends point to one reality for consumers: we now need far less space to accommodate our home entertainment systems. More furniture shoppers are turning to small, sleek TV stands rather than full media centers, opting for pieces that require minimal storage for a few small devices rather than full wall units with rows of shelving for movies, DVDs, and accessories. Some consumers are choosing to free up their TV stands to serve as extra storage by wall-mounting their TVs.

As home entertainment furniture declines in size to accommodate a smaller number of more technologically robust electronics, ventilation has become an issue. When storing their media equipment in smaller, often concealed spaces, consumers must take care to ensure that all of their devices are positioned to ensure adequate air flow.

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Flexible Design

With consumers moving toward more minimalist credenzas for the centerpieces of their entertainment furnishings, furniture retailers have begun to offer a wider range of flexible, modular designs for entertainment centers. Consumers can now choose from hutches, shelving, and extra cabinetry to fit their unique multimedia storage needs. In addition to allowing consumers to customize their home entertainment centers, these modular designs can facilitate easier access to the various devices and wiring necessary to power today’s entertainment systems. In addition, modular designs can make it much easier to reorganize the entertainment center, which is sometimes required when consumers upgrade or replace their technology.

 

Multipurpose Spaces

When shopping for new furniture for a home entertainment room, most shoppers will select from smaller, sleeker pieces with a wider range of modular additions and decorative side pieces. Now that consumers are demanding less functionality from their entertainment furniture, they are finding more diverse uses for both entertainment pieces and rooms. The reduced need for expansive wall units is also allowing consumers to focus more on style. Now, what once served as a decorative accent table could very well become a home entertainment hub. Furniture companies are taking note of this trend, and many are producing TV stands to match a wider range of aesthetics, with a number of them offering unique features such as drop-down fronts.

The trend toward scaled-down entertainment furniture has also blurred some of the boundaries between functional rooms in the home. For example, an individual who regularly uses a smart TV to access email and surf the web might outfit an entertainment hub to serve as a temporary office. Advancements in home furnishings and automation are also lessening the need for consumers to dedicate an entire room to entertainment. Due to aspects such as lighting, projector screens, and audio systems accessible from a smartphone, it is now easier than ever to transform a high-traffic family room or understated office into the perfect venue to watch a movie.

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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.