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MAY 2014


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INSIDE MAY 2014

in each issue 04. NAHFA President’s Message 06. NAHFA Leaders’ Message 10. Retailer2Retailer/Inspired Reading 11. Connections Meet Your BOD’s Officers 12. Product Focus Accessorizing Your Bottom Line

14.

16. Fresh Perspectives It’s All in the Details 52. The Scoop 54. Industry Calendar 56. The NOW List

features

14. The Flip Side of the Sale 18. Give Them Their Just Rewards 22. NGN Member Spotlight Abi Merkle 32. First Impressions

departments

28.

Sales & Marketing

20. It’s The Little Things 26. Private Sales 35. Five Ways to Get Strong Referrals 36. Is Your Advertising Effective? 40. Cultivating Repeat Customers 49. The Rise of Content Marketing Technology

08. TechNOW 28. Protecting Your Company From a Data Breach 31. Beacon Technology 39. Streamlining Customer Service Membership

44. Safety Training 101

32..

47. Plagued with Tough HR Questions? 51. It’s Not a New Tax: MFA

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thePlayers What we are so passionate about. . .

To have the courage to pursue purposeful dialogues that challenge conventional thinking, to engage and entertain our readers by delivering content that creates a fervent following ready to change the landscape of our industry. RetailerNOW is the magazine for today’s home furnishings professional. Developed for a specialized community, RetailerNOW brings a unique editorial focus on progressive and relevant issues concerning the home furnishings industry in the retailer’s voice, with a focus on issues impacting retailers NOW.

Published by the North American Home Furnishings Association 500 Giuseppe Court, Suite Six Roseville, CA 95678 800.422.3778 RetailerNOW Staff Lisa Casinger Editorial Director LisaC@retailerNOWmag.com Lisa Tilley Creative Director lisa@retailerNOWmag.com

Contact Information:

Michelle Nygaard Sales Executive michelle@retailerNOWmag.com

Mailing – Editorial and Advertising 500 Giuseppe Ct., Suite 6 Roseville CA 95678

Cindi Williams Business Development cindi@retailerNOWmag.com

Online: retailerNOWmag.com Phone: Editorial: (800) 422-3778 Advertising: (800) 422-3778 Social: Facebook.com/retailerNOW

Retail Advisory Team

Twitter.com/retailerNOW Pinterest.com/retailerNOW

Andrew Tepperman Tepperman's Windsor, ON Carol Bell Contents Interiors Tucson, AZ

Subscription: $70/year RetailerNOW, ISSN# 2166-5249, is published monthly (except March and December) by the North American Home Furnishings Association, 500 Giuseppe Court, Ste 6, Roseville, CA 95678. Application to Mail at the Periodicals Postage Prices is Pending at Roseville, CA and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please address changes to: RetailerNOW, The North American Home Furnishings Association, 500 Giuseppe Court, Ste 6, Roseville CA 95678. If you would like to stop receiving RetailerNOW, please send an email to unsubscribe@retailerNOWmag.com. If you would like to only receive an electronic version of RetailerNOW, please send an email to gogreen@retailerNOWmag.com. © 2012 North American Home Furnishings Association. Published by the North American Home Furnishings Association. Material herein may not be reproduced, copied or reprinted without prior written consent of the publisher. Acceptance of advertising or indication of sponsorship does not imply endorsement of publisher or the North American Home Furnishings Association. The views expressed in this publication may not reflect those of the publisher, editor or the North American Home Furnishings Association, and North American Retail Services Corp. Content herein is for general information only; readers are encouraged to consult their own attorney, accountant, tax expert and other professionals for specific advice before taking any action.

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Donny Hinton Colortyme Gaffney, SC Rick Howard Sklar Furnishings Boca Raton, FL

Executive Staff Sharron Bradley CEO NAHFA sbradley@NAHFA.org Mary Frye EVP NAHFA mfrye@NAHFA.org Membership Staff Kaprice Crawford Membership Team Leader kcrawford@NAHFA.org Jordan Boyst jboyst@NAHFA.org Michael Hill mhill@NAHFA.org Eric Malone emalone@NAHFA.org Jana Sutherland jsutherland@NAHFA.org Dianne Therry dtherry@NAHFA.org Please call (800) 422-3778 for all membership inquires.

Travis Garrish Forma Furniture Fort Collins, CO Mike Luna Pedigo’s Furniture Livingston TX Contributors Brad Huisken, Brooke Feldman, Connie Post, Doug Knorr, H.D. Timmons, Hal McClamma and Tommy Miskelly, Jeff Giagnocavo, Kaprice Crawford, Kevin Doran, Marc Wayshak, Mona Nigam, Philip M. Gutsell, Sydnee Seites

www.retailerNOWmag.com


President's Message

from the president

What makes a customer loyal to our brand? The center of our business is the sale. What we do before and after are critical to our success. We spend time bringing in the best products and organizing our showrooms to entice and engage our clients. Our store must be visually exciting for our guests. We invest time and money to ensure our staff is well trained. We spend as much time or more to make sure they are up on all the latest trends and can perform all of the design related tasks our customers look for. It is costly to bring a customer to our store. Advertising and marketing are expensive but both help build our image and brand. We need to attract the right people to our showrooms and when they arrive, convert them to clients. Some stores only sell individual furniture pieces, while others strive to do complete homes with all of the design treatments it takes to make a house a home. Either way, a sale must be made and once that happens our work truly begins.

President Rick Howard Sklar Furnishings Executive Chair Howard Haimsohn Lawrance Contemporary President Elect Marty Cramer Cramer’s Home Furnishings Vice President Jeff Child RC Willey Secretary/Treasurer Steve Kidder Vermont Furniture Galleries SEHFA President Wogan S. Badcock III W.S. Badcock Corp.

Our clients go home with a smile and our sales or design associates are happy. Orders get placed and, unless it is a stock item, it will take a few weeks or longer to get the product into our clients’ homes. Special orders take time and orders must be checked and double checked to ensure they were writRick Howard, President NAHFA ten correctly and expectations are met. During this time, our sales or design associates need to keep clients updated on their order status. This proactive and timely communication really helps solidify the relationship and lets our clients know they’re important to us and we care about their business. I believe this is where the sale goes from a pleasant experience to building a bond that will last for years. Is it the products we sell that build customer satisfaction, loyalty, and lasting trust? I don’t think so. Our proactive communication with the customer throughout the order and delivery is the glue in the storeclient relationship. These touch points are key to building lasting trust and loyalty. Each and every touch point we have must be used to build trust and confidence in our business and our ability to meet our clients’ needs. We like to think we add satisfied customers everyday by paying attention to all the details and opportunities that come our way during the cycle of designing and furnishing a customer’s home. The best measurement we can possibly use to keep score is the repeat and happy customers that return and send their family and friends. Nothing is more satisfying than their loyalty to our brand. There are many loyalty-building opportunities with each customer—from marketing, the design/selling process, ordering, logistics, delivering and servicing where required. There is a wonderful book, The Cultural Code written by Clotaire Rapaille and in it he explores this topic. He defines the importance of it and how different cultures around the world have different expectations and routes to brand loyalty. It is a fascinating read. I am sure ever retailer has experienced this and knows it to be a fact. If you have a customer whose order goes from inception to completion without a hitch you may or may not see them again. However if you have a customer who has a problem that you take care of with exceptional service you will have a customer for life! This issue of RetailerNOW explores this topic, which is vital to our business. I hope you enjoy it.

Rick Howard 4

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GE Capital

WE’RE NOT JUST BANKERS, WE’RE BUILDERS. Let our home furnishing finance experts help you build a consumer finance program that brings customers to your store and helps them purchase what they really need. Offer a program that simply works in your advertising, on your website, and for your salespeople. With 80 years of experience and the latest tools, we’re ready to help you build even more for your business. Stop just banking. Start building. Visit us at gogecapital.com or call 1-866-210-1646 today!

Credit is extended by GE Capital Retail Bank © 2014 General Electric Company. All Rights Reserved.


Editor’s Message

from your association leaders Happy Birthday NAHFA!

A Word from Sharron & Mary Happy birthday to the NAHFA! This month marks a year since our merger and while we’ve made progress bringing three organizations together, we aren’t resting on our laurels. As business owners, you know the challenges of managing multiple locations (in three different time zones no less) and blending ideas, programs, and processes that allow us to do the best possible job for our customers. For us, customers are members, like you. We’re learning to work with the opportunities the merger presents us and we’re managing the challenges. A great outcome of increased staff, ideas, connections, and resources has been our ability to tackle new projects and refine ongoing ones. In thinking about how the Association could be most effective, we are focusing on helping members Sell More, Make More, and Keep More (S.M.a.K). To that end we’ve added new membership programs for secondary and alternative financing, traffic counting, and shipping. We’re helping members stay connected—both in person and on-the-go—by hosting regional events across the country, launching an app (complete with an augmented reality scanner), and reformatting our Home Furnishings Networking Conference (June 1-3, in Phoenix). We’ve even hired an additional meeting coordinator to keep us on track with all of these events. Since last May we’ve also hired a government relations liaison and a new D.C. lobbying firm to further our efforts in keeping members informed about the regulations and legislation that affect their business. We’ve been working more closely with other associations and groups to raise the industry’s voice in Washington. Our market Retailer Resource Centers have been updated (High Point) and relocated (Las Vegas), but you’ll still find familiar faces ready to help you become a member or get the most out of your existing membership. NAHFA, like your businesses, is a work in progress. We can’t do what we need to do without you. We created collaborative teams of members shortly after the merger, and each team has a different focus: member relations, education, networking, technology, government relations, consumer relations, regional events, and the next generation. These teams are an integral part of developing the goals and mission of the Association and they’re one more way for you to get involved, if you’d like to. Recently we’ve turned our sights toward RetailerNOW to make it an even stronger resource. We’re listening to what readers want, and we’re responding. In this issue, for example, we’re debuting new columns on technology, sales and marketing, and membership programs. As you can see, we’ve been busy. And we’ll stay busy making sure we do everything we can to help you grow your business. Our goal is to become indispensable to you! Sincerely,

Sharron Bradley, CEO

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Mary Frye, Executive VP

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Technology

TechNOW

What technology are you using in your store? Let us know at LisaC@retailerNOWmag.com!

COOL APPS

GOOD TO KNOW Windows XPiration Are you still running Microsoft Windows XP? If you are, you shouldn’t be. XP has been in operation since 2001. And even though it’s still the second most popular operating system after Windows 7 (29.53 percent market share as of February), Microsoft officially ended Windows XP support on April 8, 2014, meaning support and security updates for Windows XP are no longer available. What does this mean? Computers running Windows XP are now so incredibly susceptible to hacking and viruses that it it’s not at all safe to connect them to the Internet.

Unlimited Secret Boards on Pinterest After Pinterest experienced overwhelmingly positive feedback following their release of an increased number of secret boards during the holidays, the social media service has decided to give users an unlimited amount of secret boards. Pro tip: use this feature to curate and perfect boards for upcoming seasons, lines or marketing campaigns, or use them to share inspiration internally.

Zendesk Zendesk delivers cloud-based software for better customer service. How is it better? By collecting conversations from multiple platforms (emails, comments, tweets, phone calls, etc.) and putting them in one place, Zendesk helps streamline the entire service process. Collaborative tools and app integrations allow you to customize your support center to best fit your needs, and robust analytics help you to improve the relationship between your business and your customers. Zendesk claims their platform is lightening fast, easy to set up and simple to use. Put it to the test: request a live demo or start a free trial at www.zendesk.com.

IFTTT (If This Then That) Put the Internet to work for you. IFTTT is an app automating service that lets you create “recipes” that pull information from one app and use it in another. For example, use IFTTT to post your Instagram pics in Twitter as a picture (not a link), or to send you a push notification when one of your Gmail VIPs emails you. Free web-based application; iOS (requires version 6.0 or later).

NAHFA APP It’s the ultimate companion for home furnishings retailers who are looking to sell more, make more and keep more. Our app brings you events, updates, and news from NAHFA, all the articles from RetailerNOW and full in-app access to nahfa.org and retailernowmag.com. And don’t forget to look for the interactive icon throughout this issue—that’s your signal to grab your mobile device and scan to go beyond the page. Free; iOS, Android.

Scan everywhere you see this symbol for augmented experiences.

The new North American Home Furnishings Association app. Now, even when you’re on the go, you can:   Connect with resources to grow your business  Stay up to date with association news  Save money through your member benefits DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE AT NAHFA.ORG/MYAPP

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KINCAID FURNITURE

M O R E O N T R E N D T H A N Y O U M AY T H I N K .

With our traditional craftsmanship and attention to detail, Kincaid Furniture is the #1 solid wood furniture brand in the country. But did you know we also offer the very best on-trend styling in custom upholstery to fit today’s discerning consumer? Find out more at KincaidFurniture.com

BEAUTIFUL FABRIC PATTERNS & COLORS

COMPLETE LIVING ROOM COLLECTIONS

INNOVATIVE UPHOLSTERY STYLES


Retailer2Retailer

Retailer2Retailer Q: What tips do you have for building repeat customers? Becca Hayley, SOHOmodern, Little Rock, AR

Beckey Waldrop, Miller Waldrop, Hobbs, NM

Customer service, customer service, customer service. Be interested in the customer. Treat them like they are your favorite customer. Tell them insider information and do what you say you are going to do. Doing these things builds trust. Trust gets return customers. I have been in business now for 21 years. I run a small boutique— mid-century modern design business. I cancelled all of my advertising two years ago to pay off debt. All my business in the last two years has come from return customers and referrals. Since my last assistant resigned during the big down turn, I have been running everything myself. I do design work Monday-Wednesday out of the shop, and the shop is open 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Thursday- Saturday. My customers know I will tell them the truth about products and about my experiences with products; they have learned to trust me through good customer service. They know that I have to stay in business, but it is not all about the dollar, it is more about satisfying the customer and making them happy that they spent their hard earned money wisely with no regrets.

I’ve had a performance group meeting where I presented this question to them. We had a long discussion and it was interesting that none of us do very much in this area. We all recognized that it was a very valuable area that we should be “mining”.

Dru Jeppe, Reeds Furniture, Agora Hills, CA

Show her compassion in every interaction with her. Listen to her. Give her what she loves. If she loves sales, give her a different sale every month. If she loves white sofas, give her tons of white sofas to choose from. Know who she is, what she looks like, and what she loves. Inspire her. There is a theory that customers only purchase in one mental state...the state of glad. Get her to glad. If you listen to her with a compassionate ear where your ultimate goal is to fulfill her furniture dreams at a price she can afford, she will be glad to return again and again.

We have a direct mail piece that brings in good business every time we do it. We call it the “tacky letter” because it really doesn’t have much “class” but it works. We also send our customers thank you notes after a delivery. It has an offer of a nice discount on the purchase of one item that they might have seen when they were shopping, but didn’t buy it for some reason. That has worked very well. Customers have thanked us for it when they’ve used it. We also do emails on a regular basis to our customer database.

Melissa O’Rourke, Charlotte’s, El Paso, TX

That is an important question to work through since repeat customers are so crucial to a successful business. We do track our designer’s opportunities by first time visits and return visits. The most successful designers have a greater percentage of return customers.

Our staff is trained on how to connect with the customer and convey to them that she is here to help her with her home furnishing needs. Once the customer believes that they can trust the salesperson then they will most likely return to that salesperson and to our store. Making the customer feel good about our store is also in the hands of all the people they encounter from the credit department to the staff installing the furniture into their home. It has to be in the culture of the business that there is no one more important than the customer and to treat them as a Carsten Kristensen, Copenhagen, Mill Valley, CA Treat them right the first time and then keep periodically commu- welcomed guest. We also know that the sooner we take care of nicating with them via email, assuming they are agreeable to same. any problems or issues the happier the customer will be.

Inspired Reading: Building a Big Small Business Brand, by Dan Antonelli Building a small business takes a lot of hard work, time, money, and courage. Oftentimes retailers are caught up in the day-to-day must dos—ordering product, waiting on customers, paying the bills, and taking care of employees—that they forget to concentrate on or even develop their brand. The book features real-world examples (and plenty of eye-candy graphics) and case studies across a variety of industries that illustrate why branding is critical. It tells readers the ins and outs of choosing a logo design and then how to incorporate that across all media—web, outdoor, print, etc. Aside from exploring the graphic elements of a brand, it talks about the more esoteric ideas of brand promises and why they matter and how leveraging your brand can grow your bottom line. There’s even information about how to choose the right graphic designers to work with (if you don’t have one on staff). 10

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MEET YOUR 2014 BOARD OF DIRECTORS’ OFFICERS

President Elect Marty Cramer Cramer’s Home Furnishings Ellensburg, WA

Vice President Jeff Child RC Willey, Salt Lake City, UT

Executive Chair Howard Haimsohn Lawrance Contemporary San Diego, CA

Secretary/Treasurer Steve Kidder Vermont Furniture Galleries Williston, VT

President Rick Howard Sklar Furnishings Boca Raton, FL www.retailerNOWmag.com

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Scan this page for

Product Focus

HOT ACCESSORIES FROM High Point April Market

By RN Staff

I

f your store isn’t accessorized, you’re missing the boat on a golden opportunity. And by accessorized I don’t mean plastic fruit or a fake cup of coffee sitting on a dining room table, nor do I mean an old dusty print of a sailboat hanging over the headboard on that new bedroom group you just put on the floor.

Accessories or home accents represent the heart and soul. Wall décor and mirrors, lamps and lighting, decorative accents, window treatments, bedding, decorative throws and pillows, accent furniture, tabletop, rugs—all of these add layers of selling opportunity in your store.

Take a page out of any shelter magazine—literally. Use it as a blueprint for your sales floor. No matter which room graces I’m talking about adding the bling that will the pages, it looks as if the person who lived there just stepped make your cash registers sing. Furniture rep- out of the frame. There are decorative pillows on every sofa and resents the bones of the home, the foundation. chair, throws draped invitingly over ottomans, and lamps on the end tables. Artwork and mirrors grace walls and shelves, accents adorn every surface. Bedroom scenes are staged with on-trend, top-of-bed accessories such as accent pillows, comforters, duvets, and throws. Night stands are dressed with lamps and decorative accessories like vases or clocks. All of these elements not only help tell the furniture story, they let the customer imagine themselves in the room. And, if you’ve done your job and told a great story, they’ll want the accessories too. Accessories are so much more than props and certainly shouldn’t be an afterthought. Any wall can become an instant gallery for wall décor and mirrors—all of which are for sale. Turn open armoires or shelving units into displays for colorful pillows, sheet sets, and bedding. Everything is for sale. Grouping accessories together also makes it clear to your customers that you’re in the business of selling accessories, not just the furniture. Accessories give customers instant gratification.

Image courtesy of In Detail. 12

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Image courtesy of Connie Post.


Product Focus

I’m talking about adding the bling that will make your cash registers sing.

Image courtesy of The Phillips Collection.

Image courtesy of Theodore Alexander.

Your accessories have to complement your furniture—for example you wouldn’t throw a geometric patterned rug underneath a ball and claw footed traditional dining table. You have to think about the total package when you’re shopping markets. Many furniture showrooms do an exceptional job with accessories, even if they’re just using them as props to tell you their furniture story. Take notes; learn from the experts. You also have to be mindful of trends. Again—shelter magazines, trade magazines, market seminars—all are great resources for trends and style, you just have to pay attention. Changing your accessories with the seasons not only gives your sales floor a makeover from time to time, it gives your customers a reason to shop more often. The customer who bought a bedroom suit from you last year most likely won’t need another one this year, but, they just might need a new comforter or duvet, and maybe a new pair of lamps while they’re at it. Home accents are a win-win category and a growing piece of the home furnishings industry pie. Google it. Mintel International Group’s market research says that home decor sales are expected to reach $38.6 billion in 2016, up 27% from three years ago. Ibis World research says the overall industry (accents and furnishings) is expected to see a resurgence in the next five years because of rising consumer confidence, disposable income, and home ownership levels. The Las Vegas Market recognized the potential and value of home accents, so much so that it added whole floors of nothing but gift and accent vendors. Yes, adding the bling to your store (and doing it right) will take more time, effort, and money. You might already have a budding accessory advocate on your team, cultivate that passion and start reaping the ROI.

Image courtesy of In Detail.

FEBRUARY/MAR CH | 2014

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By Jeff Giagnocavo

The purpose of your sale is to create a customer for life. Most view the customer simply as someone to sell something to. In our industry this is a very damaging mindset. Given that our cycle-of-purchase, or buying frequency, is low compared to other businesses such as restaurants or hair salons, we often have one opportunity to make an amazing first impression let alone create a customer for life. So I’ll say it again the purpose of a sale is to create a customer for life. What does that mean? In a nutshell your goal with each customer should be to impress them so much that when asked by a friend or family member about their recent purchase at your store they can only say one thing, “You simply must visit Gardner’s Mattress & More; to go anywhere else would be insanity. If you are looking to wake up happy and pain free then they are the only place to visit. Simply put they are the best at what they do.”

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Retail Voice

So how do you get such a glowing endorsement after the sale is made? It takes systems and automation. Of course selling very good products is paramount here, but I’ll assume you are already there. You have to set up what I call an “Influence Culture” in your business. Presently more than 60 percent of our sales come from testimonials, referrals, and word of mouth influence. Our system begins with a post-sale email where we ask for a testimonial about their store visit as well as a review on Google+, Yahoo, and Bing. Upon delivery we leave a thank-you bag in the home. Contained inside is a testimonial form, a referral form, pens with our logo on them, a mattress-shaped notepad with our information on it, a self-addressed stamped envelope to send back the forms, and some sweet treats—cake pops (which our customers love).

these items too so it makes the referral form worth their time. The person being referred is sent a package containing our sleep guide, a testimonial book, pens, notepad, and a letter explaining why they are getting the package and who we are and how we might be able to help them wake up happy and pain free. On top of all of this, within 10 days of delivery a phone call survey goes out asking for a response on five pointed questions about how the service was at the store, how the delivery went, and overall satisfaction with the purchase. We have our virtual assistant handle the calls and she completes a form for us alerting us of possible issues. Anything that scores less than our acceptable and tolerated 8-out-of-10 is marked for our immediate attention.

After all of this is done, sold customers are put onto our mailing Our testimonial forms are meant to elicit a hyper personal response list for our monthly newsletter, which is chock full of fun articles that is more than just five stars, “Great! And these guys rock!” and informative content about our store and community we serve. Our testimonials often amount to a paragraph or two of relevant We have found that a print newsletter is simply the best form of long-term engagepersonal revelation about the ment when you have the mattress buying process, how lengthy buying cycle we we helped, and the customer’s overall experience with us. have in the furniture and mattress business. It is imperative that you begin to work on soliciting testimoThe results of these efforts nials from your customers. It is the wave of the future. As we are that 6 out of every 10 sales made in our store are a result of the become an ever more connected society, social influence on how Influence Culture we have instilled in our customers. In essence, we purchase and where, will become more and more important, or each of our communications to our customers says that part of should I say influential! Consider this as well, as Google continues being a good customer of Gardner’s means that you will shout to change the rules on a seemingly day-to-day basis in regards to from the mountain tops how much you love our store. And if we page rank, there is one thing they never mess with and that is haven’t lived up to that standard we want to know about it. reviews (and the power in them). Google’s acquisition of Zagat is further proof that if there was ever a tip of the card in relation to When we ask customers how they heard about us we often here, “I what Google will be keeping around for a long time it is the power was referred by so and so,” or “I was on Facebook and saw someof reviews and testimonials. Just look at how your businesses’ place one’s post asking where to look for mattresses and your name came page became integrated into a Google+ page in the last 12 months. back multiple times as the only place to go,” or “You mailed me a sleep guide because my friend bought here.” Our next step is to ask for referrals. We currently receive one referred name for every 3.5 deliveries we make! This is a revenue Begin today to tighten up your processes and install systems stream created from nothing, which costs next to nothing to like these in your business so you can create your own Influence acquire. In exchange for referrals we offer “Ben Bucks,” in store Culture and create customers for life. credit to use towards sheets, pillows, and mattress protection. We also remind the customer why they should have a second set of Jeff Giagnocavo is co-owner of Gardner's Mattress & More and co-founder

Google may continue to change page ranking rules, but they can’t mess with reviews (and the power in them).

of Mega Mattress Margins.

Gardner's Mattress & More creates loyal customers by creating an "influence culture" and by having many customer touch points, such as this thank-you bag of goodies that goes with each delivery.

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Fresh Perspectives

Scan this page for additional content

IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS I’ve found that if I want a quality cup of coffee,

Knot &

Splice

I have to look for it. Wherever I travel, I like to find little gems—local coffee shops that are known for their atmosphere, music, servers, and, of course, quality coffee. Interesting presentation and/or packaging doesn’t hurt either. I’m all about getting the best experience with a product. You might not realize it, but we have experiences with almost every product we buy. We research the company, learn a little about them, decide to buy their product, and have a personal connection. From the food at our local grocery store, to the furniture in our home, we are constantly having an experience from beginning to end. Recently these companies have impressed me, either with their packaging, follow-through, or story. While these aren’t furniture stores, there is a lesson to be learned from each.

Knot & Splice: This Chicago-based, jewelry store

sells hand-made pieces, and the owner, Nicole, sources stones and materials from independent collectors as well as American suppliers. I found a nice, simple ring that was different from anything I have and bought it.

Kind Sn

acks

Shinola

The best thing about my purchase was her follow-up. Nicole sent me an email right away and let me know when I’d receive my purchase. (Furniture retailers could just as easily email customers thanking them and confirming delivery details). A week later, my ring arrived and even though I wasn’t giving it as a gift, it was nicely wrapped in a little box and inside was a canvas bag holding my ring. Nicole even left a personal thank-you note. Nicole’s website and Instagram are constantly updated and show her pieces in-progress, involving customers with her process. Communication is key—and important for all retailers.

KIND Snacks: I’m a bit of a health nut. I pay attention to ingredients. In my search for healthy snacks I found KIND bars. I love these bars not just because of the variety of flavors, but also because I like being able to read (and understand) the list of ingredients.

by Brooke Feldman

Seeing the ingredients is part of the KIND trademark. Aside from providing a tasty treat and great packaging, KIND believes in acts of kindness. The company showcases individuals who give back to their communities. I also like the bars themselves, and the thought that I’m supporting a company that I feel believes in me (and being kind) when I purchase their products. This brand knows how to walk the walk and talk the talk. CONSUMERS LIKE SUPPORTING COMPANIES THAT DO GOOD THINGS. If your business is of this mindset, make sure you share your mission and your story—customers will appreciate it.

Shinola: On Instagram one day, I saw a gorgeous

watch. It had a tomboy style that appealed to me and it was just overall beautifully made. The watch was from Shinola, a Detroit-based watch, bicycle, and leather manufacturer. Shinola not only strives to make the best possible products, the owners want to help rebuild and rejuvenate the city and contribute to its rich heritage.

I was already in love with their designs and then fell even further in love with the mere fact that I was vicariously contributing to the growth of a struggling U.S. city with my purchase. Shinola’s packaging is also exceptional. Each watch comes in a wooden box that includes information not just on the watch itself, but also information on who made it! Their follow-through with purchase is undeniably personal. Shinola has also created a social community—they post about the history of Detroit, new products they’re working on, photos of their workers, and if you post a photo of yourself with their product, while using the hashtag #MyShinola, they share it. Shinola has definitely created a new way of appreciating their consumers. Companies that impress customers (like me) with a friendly (and immediate) follow up, striking packaging, locally and U.S. sourced materials, and the ability to engage us where and how we want to be engaged will come out on top. Take a lesson from these companies and start following up with and engaging your customers.

Brooke Feldman is an Instagram fanatic, yogi, opera goer, coffee lover, and writer of the blog, The Seed, which focuses on social good and innovation. She is also the digital marketing coordinator for Nourison Industries. 16

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17


Feature

H.D. Timmons

F

or retailers, deciding on the right marketing strategy to maintain repeat customers is not always so cut and dry. And if you’ve ever thought about a loyalty or rewards program to accomplish this, but then opted not to pursue such a program, you might want to think again.

Hey, you’re a consumer too. Aren’t you more likely to keep frequenting the same gas station whose loyalty program saves you money each time you fill up? And, admit it, didn’t that free pizza or sandwich taste even better because you racked up enough points to earn it? The reality is that the average U.S. household belongs to about 14 different rewards programs, even if they’re only active in half of them.

retailer offers a two percent gift card rebate on all financed amounts with no annual fees. Serta recently announced that it will offer retailers a loyalty program that rewards consumers who buy the Serta iComfort or iSeries mattresses. For those of you who carry the Serta brand, this could be your first foray into the reward program arena.

CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT

A sale is a good thing—a great thing, but a sale peaks your customer’s interest only when you run the sale. A loyalty or rewards program can make your customers feel like they are special all the time. Like they are part of an exclusive club, so to speak. Rewarding people for simply purchasing something—anything—will make them feel good. Purchasing furniture is an emotional decision, so including them in your ‘customer-only rewards program’ reinforces positive emotions.

Loyalty rewards programs, engagement and gamification seem to be coming together in this new age of retailing, so it’s no wonder that you can customize any program to suit your specific need. Adding a social media component, such as offering a promo code for specific purchases, is another kind of reward incentive for customers who frequent your website, blog, Facebook page, or GAMIFICATION Gamification is creating game-like incentives to encourage frequent Twitter. Offering a discount for customers when they check-in play and deeper engagement with your store or brand. True, this with Foursquare on their mobile devices can bring them right to is more offering a chance at a reward. It can be highly effective to your door. raise awareness but does not directly generate immediate revenue. It generates high visibility and greater engagement while only re- Providing rewards through engagement online encourages users to warding a fraction of the participating audience. The ROI is better come back to your website outside of advertising campaigns. This because customer engagement becomes fun without the perception benefits your business beyond a tangible purchase, yet benefits the of your being frugal with rewards. customers with a tangible reward.

Put your rewards program front and center. If the customer doesn’t LOYALTY INCENTIVES If you prefer a more direct revenue-generating incentive strategy know about your program until she gets to the online shopping cart, you can create a loyalty program that offers customers a flat per- then there was a missed opportunity to peruse other items. centage discount, or a points system based on dollars spent in your store. A prerequisite for a loyalty program is that it needs to be BENEFITS OF A LOYALTY PROGRAM GO WAY exclusive to customers only, easy to join, and offer rewards that BEYOND REPEAT CUSTOMERS are perceived to be of high value. Also, if you have a physical store The days of the paper punch cards (buy 9 sodas and get your 1oth and also allow purchases online, you should allow customers to one free) are long gone. Nowadays, you need to capture rich data redeem and receive credit for both in-store and online transactions. about your customer and what kind of products they are purchasing. Discover product trends, weaknesses and strengths. This will Both game and loyalty incentives are ubiquitous outside our in- help you make better decisions for your business and how to target dustry in online and brick-and-mortar stores and many retailers your marketing in the future. For instance, slow moving items have found success using them to differentiate themselves from can become great promotional items to your loyalty program their competitors. And, although loyalty programs aren’t common customers. Alternatively, fast selling items can be offered to loyalty in the home furnishings industry, there are companies that have customers first, which further adds value to the program. In fact, adopted them. there are POS systems that have integrated customer relationship management (CRM) and loyalty programs options to help you For example, Salt Lake City, Utah-based RC Willey has a re- track promotions to learn which are most effective, and which wards program for any customer using its in-store financing. The customers redeem them.

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WHY IS CUSTOMER There are many companies at your disposal to help you navigate the rocky rewards program terrain, with varied components and marketing strategies to garner the much sought-after customer loyalty. Loyalty programs can provide long-term financial gain to your business, creating customers who keep coming back. When done right, these repeat customers will result in more revenue over time.

LOYALTY IMPORTANT? $

REWARD AND PUNISHMENT

It’s not enough to simply say you have a rewards program. If you don’t define your goals before you implement your rewards program, and how to promote it, then it will be difficult to determine its success. With a clear goal you will easily be able to track your performance and know how to improve upon them in your next fiscal year. You also have to put in the time—time up front and time during the course of your program. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to making sure it is implemented properly, then it probably won’t succeed. Be careful not to make your program too complicated. The best ones are super simple and hassle-free without long sign up forms. If a customer is equally as stressed and frustrated filling out a rewards program form as they are filling out a credit app, then they won’t join the program. You also have to be patient. Keep your program parameters intact without changing them when you don’t see short term results. A common knee-jerk reaction is to lower the requirements to earn points. While this may serve to increase the points a customer uses, it can cut into your profit margins and hurt revenue. Remember, the customer isn’t loyal to a program, she is loyal to your business. So, no matter how wiz-bang your loyalty program is, it can all be undermined in a heartbeat if your customer service doesn’t match the interaction they expect from your store. Pain and reward are opponent, interacting processes. Without proper implementation and follow through, your attempt at REWARD could only cause PAIN for your business. Reward programs can be fun and create lots of buzz about your store. A sale is just a sale, but a reward is something special bestowed upon a chosen few. If you plan it right YOU could be the one who is rewarded in the end. H.D. Timmons is an author, creative designer, and marketer who has been observing marketing trends for home furnishings retailers since 2006.

Over

60%

Customer spending is

of U.S. households said that loyalty card programs were important in their shopping decisions. (AC Nielsen)

46%

higher with companies that offer reward card programs. (Total Research Corp & Custom Marketing Corps Loyalty Monitor Study)

A first-time customer has a 30% chance of becoming a long-term profitable customer. If they buy three times relatively quickly, their chance of becoming long-term more than doubles to 67%. (Loyalty Magic) Most companies can increase revenues by nearly

50% only 5%

while retaining of their customer base.

28%

of customers reported that they are Extremely Likely to increase their visits to a business if they have a loyalty reward card for them. (Total Research Corp & Custom Marketing Corps Loyalty Monitor Study)

(Frederick Reichheid)

A 5% reduction in lost customers can increase profits by up to 75%. (Loyalty Magic)

Only 12% to 15% of customers are loyal to a single retailer, but they represent between 55% and 70% of sales. (Center for Retail Management, Northwestern University)


Sales & Marketing

It’s The Little Things! By Brad Huisken

I

n the current retail environment I truly believe that customer service has gotten so bad that our customers have actually learned to expect lousy customer service. I also believe that when a customer gets great service it freaks them out. They’re so surprised that they tell everyone about their experience and become repeat customers. I have been to all the seminars and done the research on social media and mainstream media outlets that make terrific claims on advertising and marketing. However, I will go to the grave believing that there isn’t a more effective, cost-efficient form of advertising than one human being telling another human being what a great experience they had at XYZ Furniture Company. It is the little things that make a world of difference in the customer’s mind about the experience of shopping one furniture store over another. The stores that will excel and dominate are those that provide exceptional customer service that leads to word-ofmouth advertising. There are so many things retailers can do to set themselves apart from the pack. Number one is having a highly trained staff that totally understands that the goal of a sales presentation isn’t to make a sale. The goal is to make a friend. The days of the retail furniture clerk are gone; it is the day of the retail furniture sales professional. Every time you deal with a customer, you shouldn’t just want to make a sale, you should want to make a personal trade customer, one who asks for you by name, thinks of your store first when they have a furniture need, and pro-actively sings your praises to their friends, relatives, and acquaintances.

Companies make a choice to be average or to be exceptional; I suggest that you choose to be exceptional. If the salesperson were to pay more attention to the customer’s head and heart rather than their wallet, they will get what’s in the wallet. Great sales professionals are great listeners. They listen to the emotional reason WHY people are buying furniture and then they share in the emotional excitement. For example, a customer walks into a store and tells the salesperson they just moved into a new home and they need a dining room set. The salesperson immediately starts talking about dining room sets, rather than talking about the new home and sharing in the customer’s excitement. If you listen, people will tell you everything you need to know to close the sale. You can create a relationship (and in the process a personal trade customer) simply by asking the right questions and listening to the customer’s responses. 20

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The following are my 13 customer service standards. Standards are things that must be adhered to 100 percent of the time with all customers, no exceptions. 1) If

you say it, do it.

2) Satisfy

every customer.

3) Keep

personal problems out of business. 4) Use

the customer’s name.

5) Dress

for success.

6) Give customers your full attention. 7) Never

interrupt.

8) No

fast-talking.

9) Sell

with enthusiasm.

10) Smile, 11) The

Golden Rule.

12) Make 13) Go

www.retailerNOWmag.com

smile, smile.

it fun.

the extra mile.


Sales & Marketing

Keeping the kids happy goes a long way to keeping the parents in the store.

These are all pretty self-explanatory, but let’s consider number 13 more closely. Going the extra mile. What does that mean? It means going above and beyond your customers’ expectations of a great shopping experience. Here are some suggestions.   Set up a refreshment bar that serves coffee, iced tea, cookies, candies, and even champagne, beer, and wine if your state allows.   Provide a play area for the younger kids or a place where older kids could watch movies or play video games.   Sales people should absolutely send a personalized, handwritten, thank-you note after every purchase of a given dollar amount.

Every time you deal with a customer, you shouldn’t just want to make a sale, you should want to make a personal trade customer, one who asks for you by name, thinks of your store first when they have a furniture need, and pro-actively sings your praises to their friends, relatives, and acquaintances.

  Celebrate your customers. On Mother’s Day hand out roses or carnations; find something for the fathers on Father’s Day; hand out little American flags on Memorial Day and the 4th of July; have a trick-or-treat bag on Halloween; give away candy canes at Christmas.   Have your delivery people leave a box of chocolates, or put a big red bow on the furniture when delivered—it sends a powerful message. Have the delivery people take photos of the room with their cell phone and text them to the homeowner and the salesperson.   Find out when the customer’s birthday and/or anniversary is and send a greeting card.   Make follow-up calls after the delivery to make sure everything went exactly right.   Make notes about personal information—where they went on vacation, info about children and grandchildren, how their son or daughter scored the on the last play of a sporting event, what kind of work they do, where they are from etc. No one can possibly remember all of this information, but if you keep customer notes, it’s easy to refer back to them the next time you call the customer or set up an appointment; this is where friendships are developed.

When a customer comes into a furniture store for the first time, I don’t think they are looking for furniture. I think they are looking for a place and a person they feel comfortable buying from. I believe they’re part of them is thinking ‘Get me in and get me out with the path of least resistance,’ but subconsciously they’re thinking ‘I wish I had a friend in this business so I wouldn’t have to deal with these people I don’t know.’ Be their friend. The only thing that separates one furniture store from another is the people who work there. Be the human being, the friend, and the professional your customer’s hope and expect you to be. It really doesn’t take that much extra effort to treat your customer’s exceptionally well. It’s the little things that make all the difference in the world. I think that every time a customer leaves the store, whether they bought or not, they better feel like a confetti canyon just went off in the heads. Companies make a choice to be average or to be exceptional; I suggest that you chose to be exceptional. The bottom line sales and profits will reflect your efforts. Trainer, consultant, and speaker Brad Huisken is president of IAS Training. He’s published several sales training books, including his most recent Munchies for Salespeople II, More Selling Tips That You Can Sink Your Teeth Into. Contact Brad at info@iastraining.com, www.iastraining.com.

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21


Next Gen NOW Member Spotlight

Abi Merkle Creative Manager Badcock Furniture & More Mulberry, FL

How did you come into the home furnishings industry and what is your role? Abi: My advertising career started in grocery. When my role as graphic artist was dissolved,

my boss at the time knew a gentleman who was the vice president of the advertising department here at Badcock and she put me in touch with him. I was first hired on as the advertising billing specialist (in 1998) and worked my way up through the ranks of graphic artist, advertising coordinator, and now creative manager. I oversee most of the creative and copy for print, email blasts, radio, and TV along with other managerial duties.

What changes (both positive and negative) have you seen in the industry? Abi: The biggest change I have seen over the years is where our product is sourced from— overseas. When I first started with Badcock, 80 percent of what we sold was from here in the U.S. Now it’s the other way around. I hope to see that starting to turn back around over the next several years.

The “art” of selling furniture really hasn’t changed though the vehicles we use to get the word out to the consumer have changed. Digital advertising cannot be ignored. Not that it‘s the end all, be all, but our younger consumers live on digital technology.

Why do you think it’s such a challenge for our industry to recruit and retain the next generation? Abi: Those who are considered the “next generation” tend to look for something bigger and

better, possible greener grass. Longevity, in many cases, seems to be a thing of the past. As our industry gets younger more instant gratification, flexible working hours, and a higher level of technology is expected to achieve goals and ideas. Companies need to be willing to change, to keep up with the times. The whole “who moved my cheese” mentality has to be set aside and companies need to look at what will keep our industry growing.

In your opinion, what challenges does our industry face in general? Abi: Knowing what the next generation of customers expects in the way of furniture is

important and a challenge. We have to ask ourselves these questions—how important, to the overall consumer, is being “green?” Durability versus convenience? Price versus quality?

Loyalty to a brand is key when it comes to Millennials. We all need to find the formula to ensure we are doing everything in our power at the corporate level, at store level, even in the distribution centers and warehouses to create and maintain that brand loyalty. Continued on page 25 Ø

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Next Gen NOW Member Spotlight

Continued from page 22Ø

As a graphic designer, have you seen any changes in how we reach out to younger consumers? And are there ways the industry as a whole could refocus its efforts? Abi: Most retailers rely on what they know and trust as ways to communicate

to the younger consumers. Though traditional media is still very relevant and Abi: reliable, digital media has become highly important! We, as retailers, need to look at how we can become more personal with the younger consumers, to gain their trust and their loyalty, and to have two-way conversations with them. It is a fast paced and quickly changing world when it comes to digital advertising, but we need to do a better job staying on top of and getting out in front of the trends.

If you were designing a marketing campaign for the home furnishings industry, specifically targeting Millennials, what would that look like? Would you use print? Social media? Video? Abi: Simple copy. Large pictures in minimalistic settings. Clean. Bright colors. Fun. I would continue to use the traditional forms of media as well as the digital side of life. Social media, blogs, video. It should all be used. We want consumers talking about what we have to offer, what services we provide and the ease of their experiences. Millennials like to share their experiences with the world and we want to be a part of that. Brand loyalty is huge.

Our theme for this issue is After the Sale. As a consumer (not just of home furnishings products)—what draws you back to a retailer? Abi: The experience. I would expect the sales staff (at any level) to be attentive. I want to know that the sales person (and the company) appreciates my business and I want them to “woo” me. Follow up to the sale is key. Am I satisfied with my recent purchase? Do I have any questions? Has something that accentuates my recent purchase gone on sale? This is not a generational expectation, this is everyone young and old. I want to continue to go back if my experience is satisfying.

Why is it important to you to be a member of Next Gen Now? Abi: I don’t want to become stale. I’ve been in the industry a long time and

views can become mundane. I want to continue to stay relevant. I want be creative and bring innovative ideas to the table. Being a part of Next Gen Now will help with all of this. Others come into the industry with experiences from other companies and with them they bring a spark, a new perspective and so much more. I liked to be challenged.

What social media do you use? Facebook, Pinterest, occasionally LinkedIn

Who do you follow on Twitter? I have

an account, but don’t use it. Not crazy about it and just not enough time to play on it. Maybe I should learn to like it more!

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I’m not sure. I love advertising, always have. But I would love to work with horses. I like to get dirty. I don’t mind mucking stalls, cleaning hooves, etc. Going back to my grocery days, I like food styling. I had always said if I were to go back to school, I would go back for that. I know, two totally opposite ends of the spectrum!

What do you do for fun? I love sports.

Both of my sons play baseball and I love to watch them in action, even on those “bad” days. We go to a lot of sporting events too —Ray’s baseball games, USF football and baseball games, and Lightning hockey games. I also run a lot, helps me with my stress and to stay healthy. Being with my family and friends is important to me.

What’s your fave piece of furniture in your house? I would have to say my favorite piece of furniture is actually my dining room set. It was my parents’. They purchased it back in 1968. It’s made from beautiful pecan, I think it’s by Burlington. My mom was an interior decorator and she decided one year, that it needed to be airbrushed lavender. It was pretty, but when we got it, it just didn’t work well with what we had. My husband, for two weeks, painstakingly stripped the color off and made it match the table again! It’s beautiful.

Next Gen NOW (NGN) is a community of young, passionate, engaged industry professionals whose mission is to give a voice to the needs and goals of the up-andcoming future generations. NGN also strives to educate the industry on how, and why, it should attract and keep young talent. The NAHFA supports NGN by facilitating meetings and educational opportunities and introduces the industry to its members through these pages. Connect with NGN members at ngnow.org or on Twitter @ngnow.

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Sales & Marketing

By Philip M. Gutsell

LIKE HAVING YOUR OWN ATM

Who doesn’t love the convenience of a bank ATM card, especially when you need cash quickly? One of the most effective ways to produce cash for your business is to utilize your preferred customer mailing list with a private sale. I recommend mailing to use your preferred customer list at least once a quarter on average. Why? Because your most loyal customers respond best when given a good reason. Your Customers Know and Love You

Aside from the customers you’re serving right this minute, your preferred customer list is one of your most valuable commodities. Until a shopper buys, they are not your customers but rather your competition’s. When a customer purchases from you that is the first real measure of relationship selling. When relationship selling was all the rage several years ago, I differed. The relationship, I countered, really begins with their purchase. Until then you are building rapport. Once they buy from you, the real relationship starts and needs future care to maintain loyalty. In our experience, a previous purchasing customer will respond, on average, twice as much as a mailing to a demographic list. We know this because we measure closing ratios.

Consider Demographic Lists

Occasionally my clients have done a fantastic job of producing and growing their mailing list. If the list is too big for one mass mailing, stagger your mailing over several days or weekends. If you do not have a store list, demographic lists are an option, although your ROI is usually not as good. Demographic lists can also serve as the basis for building your store list if it is small. Chart the zip codes where your preferred customers live. People in the same areas usually have similar lifestyles want and needs, plus they will have seen your delivery truck in their neighborhoods. You can then rent mailing lists based on household incomes that match your merchandising level. Demographic private sales also work, just not as effectively as your previous purchaser.

Private Sales Are Measurable

The challenge of today’s marketing is measuring your results. The first rule of management is, “You can only mange what you can measure.” With the proliferation of social media, the decline of newspapers, and the dilution of network television, direct mail is still effective and, more importantly, measurable. You can measure direct return by the customer traffic you receive during a private event. It is even more measurable if you include some form of coupon. Then the ultimate measurement is the percentage and number of purchasers. I highly recommend sending email blasts and Twitter messages reinforcing your private sales and reminding 26

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customers to look for their private letter. Always evaluate your results so you can improve your next mailing. Once a year send your list first class; while it is more expensive, it allows you to get your returns so you can clean up your list.

Mailing Frequency

Some retailers are afraid of saturating their private list with too many events. But remember, customers are in the market for new home furnishings throughout the year. Research shows that when a customer purchases from you, 50 percent are in the market for an additional item within the next year. As only four percent of home furnishings customers are in the market on any given week, it would take 12 mailings to reach the above 50 percent over a year. As my clients results continually improved, we kept increasing our private sales because of the huge return. While a monthly mailing may be cost prohibitive, our clients have found success with once-a-quarter mailings.

Timing and Urgency

Timing is very important. In most markets the best time for a private sale is heading into the weekend. The exception is a special one-day sale, which could be offered virtually any day of the week. The risk with such a limited time frame is the possibility of running into a weather or other unforeseen emergency. Generally, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are the best days for sales; if you are open Sundays, consider Sunday as well. Add the element of urgency with terms like “Three days only” or “36 hours,” rather than open-ended terms like “Hurry, limited time!” Remember the more specific you make the urgency the better the results.

It’s Your Business ATM

Remember, just like an ATM, you must have deposits in the account. There are production costs, postage, and planning. Always add your new customers to your list. When gathering their information, ask for their email and Twitter addresses to let them know about sneak peek and private sales. Encourage new customers to like your store on Facebook. Put your customers on your mailing Sneak Peeks to Major Events Before all major sales events offer your preferred customers a pre- list so you can bank on them and get quarterly cash from your new view invitation. They love the special “loyalty” attention. When private sale ATM. we start with a private sale it usually ensures a great kick off to our events, giving sales momentum to the public phase. On big- Philip M. Gutsell, president and owner of GutSELL & Associates, consults ger events that last for 60 days or more (such as relocation sales) with home furnishings retailers on marketing, advertising, motivational sales training, and strategic planning. www.gutsell.com consider a second mailing towards the end.

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Technology

10 WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR COMPANY FROM A DATA BREACH

A

s a result of the recent spate of high-profile data breaches at brand name retailers, compromising credit and debit card and other personally identifiable information for hundreds of millions of consumers in the process, data security has become priority No. 1 for many retailers in 2014. And for good reason: The consequences of suffering a data breach are numerous, and none of them are positive — consumer mistrust, a drop in traffic and a decrease in sales, to name just a few. With retailers recently testifying before Congress that they’re facing increasingly sophisticated threats from cyber criminals, and no end to those in sight, it’s become apparent that your company needs to implement strategies that will protect itself from a costly data breach. Here are 10 ways you can more easily achieve that goal while maintaining required payment card industry (PCI) compliance (all of these tips fall within one of five buckets — visibility; asset control; enforcement; trust policy; advance measurement.) Minimize the customer data you collect and store. Acquire and keep only data required for legitimate business purposes (e.g., marketing, billing, shipping), and only for as long as necessary. When data is no longer of business value, properly dispose of it. For example, shred paper documents before recycling and remove hard drives from computers before disposing of them. Take your security efforts a step further by encrypting the sensitive data that you collect. Encryption makes it more difficult for unauthorized parties to read lost or stolen data. Install encryption on all laptops, mobile devices, flash drives and backup tapes. Manage the costs and administrative burden of the PCI compliance validation process. Try segmenting your infrastructure among multiple teams to minimize the complexity associated with the applicable compliance metrics. Having full visibility into all enterprise assets (e.g., network systems, point-of-sale system) along with the templates to determine PCI-relevant data gives you a snapshot of the corporate assets that are affected. Maintain PCI compliance throughout the checkout process. If you’re able to detect transactional data point infractions in real time and stop anything introduced into your infrastructure that’s outside of known software (e.g., advanced threats), you can ensure that transactional data (e.g., a credit card number) is protected at every stage in the process. Develop a strategy to protect your infrastructure on multiple levels. This includes closing every opportunity for cybercriminals to exploit your point-ofsale terminals, kiosks, workstations and servers. The ability to collect endpoint information in real time provides retailers with the information to assess the risk that any asset may pose to its security and PCI compliance. Monitor traffic and create a central log of security-related information to alert you to suspicious activity on your network.

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Technology

Maintain real-time inventor y and actionable intelligence on all endpoints and servers, as well as control the overall security of your infrastructure to maintain PCI compliance. Employ multiple layers of security technology — e.g., firewalls, up-to-date anti-malware programs — to stymie sophisticated hackers. Establish a baseline for the software inventory that should reside on your endpoints, schedule security patches on your own timetable and eliminate the need for constant profile scanning that can bring the performance of an endpoint to a halt. Extend the life of your systems. Oftentimes you can’t upgrade or pay for extended support after an operating systems’ end of life. For example, you may have critical applications that won’t run on the newer operating system, your hardware can’t run the newer operating system or your organization can’t afford to pay the high cost for out-of-band support. By implementing a positive security model, you can stay compliant in any end-of-life situation and get protection from zero-day and other attacks for all of your servers and endpoints. You know at any given time what’s running on every in-scope system across your organization; you can determine on a real-time basis if you have any vulnerabilities and whether any inscope systems have fallen out of scope. You have all the parameters set up that matter to your business. Use real-time sensors to test your security system regularly. By maintaining continuous, real-time file integrity monitoring and control, retailers can protect critical configuration files from unauthorized changes and meet file integrity monitoring and audit trail rules. You’ll be able to identify all suspected vulnerabilities across your infrastructure and proactively take action against specific versions and types of files based on your company’s policies. By giving individual employees’ file rights and approvals into the trust metrics for your company, you’ll have complete visibility into all changes and vulnerabilities that software updates may introduce. This increased visibility provides a wealth of information for the penetration test and will expose all known and potential vulnerabilities prior to the commencement of testing. This also will help you determine what penetration tests to execute because the coordinates can be created against a set of known possibilities rather than a negative set of data. Build measurable business intelligence around your business assets. By understanding and having visibility into real-time file asset inventory information, you can build intelligence around all of your file assets, including their prevalence, trust rating, threat and inherited vulnerabilities. Having a high level of visibility enhances your ability to report on any asset at audit time or during pre-compliance assessment and security intelligence gathering. This enables you to take a proactive stance against anything running within your enterprise, sifting out anything that’s deemed untrustworthy.

Conduct regular audits of security measures, especially connections commonly used as gateways for attacks, and make appropriate adjustments. A full audit of all significant PCI data and the surrounding events associated with the attempted file alteration is necessary so auditors can quickly assess your compliance stance and produce the necessary reporting for PCI compliance validation. Educate employees about their role in data security. Inform all of your employees of the potential threats to customer data as well as the legal requirements for securing it. This should

include designating an employee to serve as information security coordinator, who is responsible for overseeing the company’s security efforts. Having a clear data security policy in place will help guide employees on the proper use of data, creating a more secure environment.

SECURITY POLICY GUIDELINES • Allow access to sensitive employee or customer data only to those employees whose positions require access to it. • Require employees to store laptops and other mobile devices in a secure place. • Direct employees to give no security information over the phone. • Require the use of multiple, unique passwords on computers and any personal devices used for work purposes. • Implement a system for retrieving information from departing employees and vendors/contractors at the end of their relationship with the company. • Verify the security controls of any third-party vendors that you work with to ensure they meet your requirements and that you have the right to audit them. • Require that employees and vendors/contractors promptly report any potential data security breach to the company. • Employ policies outlining the proper disposal methods for data. Whitepaper provided by Bit9 and Carbon Black. 1,000 organizations worldwide—from 25 Fortune 100 companies to small businesses—use Bit9 and Carbon Black to increase security, reduce operational costs, and improve compliance. Bit9.com

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Technology

T

By RN Staff

his is the year of the mobile consumer. We already know this—customers are demanding a shopping experience they can access with their smartphones, forcing brick-andmortar retailers to incorporate mobile solutions that supplement their in-store offerings.

SCAN NOW

for additional content

In our January 2014 issue, we introduced you to a variety of emerging technologies that can help retailers offer mobile solutions. We have been following these technologies over the course of the new year, gauging which ones have potential and might be worth the investment. Beacon technology has received a lot of attention, thanks to the debut of Apple’s iBeacon with the roll out of its latest mobile operating system, iOS7, in late 2013. Big name retailers including American Eagle and Macy’s have already deployed the technology in partnership with mobile shopping application provider Shopkick. Beacons are hardware sensors that communicate with shoppers’ compatible mobile devices within a specific physical proximity. They do so using a low energy form of Bluetooth, aptly named Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), so there is no Internet required. Due to their Bluetooth networking capabilities, beacons can be used in a variety of ways in-store to personalize and optimize customers’ experience via mobile. By configuring these relatively low-cost devices with a mobile app—either pre-existing like Apple’s Passbook, or with a custom app built specifically for your store—retailers can create a mobile solution that enables features like shopper analytics, geolocation, and targeted messaging. Once consumers download the app, the technology runs in the background so your customers don’t have to remember to open the app to receive messages while shopping. Beacons are still in the test-and-learn phase. In order for consumers to accept it, retailers need to make access to direct, real-time communication with shoppers’ smartphones worth it for their customers. According to a study conducted by Swirl Networks (a tech company that develops mobile marketing platforms), 77 percent of consumers would share their smartphone location data as long as they received enough value in return. It is, and will remain, too early to tell which beacon technology features are most effective until most current beacon trials are complete. And even then, implementation will depend on specific goals of each individual retailer. But retail industry experts are largely predicting fast adoption and I’m calling it too: this one is worth the investment if for nothing else than a trial in your store.

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Feature

Does Your Store Give a Horrible First Impression? By Connie Post

F

urniture retail is one of the last consumer products categories to reinvent and modernize the guest experience, which includes not only the exterior and interior of a store, but the transaction and the way we do business. Beyond our industry, retail has been transformed—from online shopping to ordering meals via iPad at our favorite restaurants, to all the ways that consumers will in-take information about the products they buy.

Fast food is a prime example of an industry that has focused on reinvention and innovation, and in so doing, has created the new category known as fast casual dining (Panera Bread, Moe’s Southwest Grill) which offers consumers a higher quality of food and atmosphere. Anyone who has visited a McDonald’s or Wendy’s recently knows that these companies are reinventing their dining experiences as well. Wendy’s is leading the charge with five regional formats that speak to a restaurant’s location, whether a contemporary metro market, or a countryside location complete with fireplaces, flat-screen televisions and leather chairs. Each of the five formats includes the basic elements of the Wendy’s guest experience, while extending regional style elements throughout the restaurant.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Pier 1 and Arhaus are two chains that immediately come to mind. Pier I has done a great job of reinventing its stores, with a presentation that invites exploration and discovery. When a consumer walks into a Pier 1 store, they feel a sense of “want” when they walk through the front door. They don’t know what they want, they just want something. The Arhaus store experience also evokes this immediate and compelling “buy-me!” reaction in shoppers. Both Pier I and Arhaus make great first impressions on shoppers with marketplace presentations that are very different from traditional furniture stores that bombard customers with living room groups at the entrance (the numberone reason so many stores look the same).

Positive Demographic Shifts

Our economy, and especially the home furnishings business, has long been based on the rising tide of Baby Boomers. When 30 million less Generation X-rs hit their prime buying years of 30 to 40, most blamed the resulting dip in furniture sales on the Internet, China and, of course, the recession. Yet we are now beginning a new phase with the advent of the Echo Boomers, the largest generational cohort since the Baby Boomers at 80 million strong. While many Echo Boomers are at the “IKEA” age right now, just Why this comparison to the fast food industry? Because it forms out of college and staying home longer, the first wave born in the the basis of consumer expectations and the furniture industry early ‘80s is turning 30 this year. We will be facing a bigger buyhas been slow to follow suit. The bar has been raised at retail to ing cohort over the next five to eight years than our industry has the point that consumers today enjoy a much more inviting and seen in a long time. The difference, of course, is that we are also modern, consumer-centric experience buying a $1 hamburger, competing with multiple selling channels today. than they do purchasing a big-ticket item for their home. The fact is our industry is rife with stores that are ten to 15 years old that Simply put, there is great opportunity to reposition independent look and feel very much the same way they did the day they opened retailers that are well-grounded in their marketplaces to meet the their doors. There is very little update, much less modernizing of needs of this new generation of shoppers, as well as to attract retail brands. We must reinvent our stores and innovate the guest consumers in their ‘50s and ‘60s who no longer want “same-old, experience to evoke emotional responses from consumers. This is same-old,” and who don’t want to buy from stores that they pernot just a matter of remaining competitive; it’s a matter of survival. ceive as “old.” We’re talking about consumers with money, whose 32

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Feature

Left and center, Decor Secrets, Dania Beach, Fla.; right, C.S. Wo, Honolulu.

kids are out of college, who have the ability to change, and who ARG, as well as many other retail experts, has also found that a are looking for new experiences; an aging demographic that customer makes a decision whether or not they will shop your doesn’t want to age, that is spending and doing everything in store within seven seconds of walking through the front door. This their power to stay young and healthy and to create a youthful makes the first 1,000 to 2,000 square feet of your store the most home environment. Again and again we talk to so many consum- important real estate you own. The first 1,000 to 2,000 square feet ers today who say, “Oh, I don’t want that old traditional stuff; is where the customer first experiences your brand, and where you I’ve had that.” They are looking for new: The new, clean-lined, make a statement that you are interesting and different (or not) in the marketplace. This is the area that forms fashionable, and modern furnishings they see in shelter magazines, as well as new Create the relationship— customers’ first impression of your brand, and their initial fascination is reinforced shopping experiences. talk to them about realizing when they leave. Our challenge as an industry is to create a their dreams in a way first 1,000 to 2,000 square feet presents shopping experience that is more modern internet retailers cannot. The great opportunity to wow them. This is and youthful, that speaks to both ends of where we can take a page from retailers these demographic groups, the people with money who can afford change and the younger consumers who like Pier 1 and Arhaus and create that sense of want in consummay be making the first real furniture purchase of their lives. This ers when they walk through the front door. One way is to create is the time for creating relationships, to talk with them about a marketplace presentation with piles of things to explore and what they dream about and help them realize those dreams in a experience—accent furniture, accessories, decorative chairs and way that Internet retailers cannot. We need to move beyond static ottomans—that add a sense of fashion, but aren’t a major commitrows of furniture into an experience that is fun and emotionally ment in terms of price. This can be accomplished using items the merchandising team is already buying and presenting them in a engaging, and taps into all of the senses. different way. Create a sense of seasonality, and a sense of urgency in shoppers who have been trained by other retailers to know if What’s Their First Impression? According to America’s Research Group (ARG), a grand opening they don’t buy today, the items they want may not be available is the most believable sale or event in customers’ minds. They the next time they come in. When I walk into a Pottery Barn for believe they will see something truly special and different and example, the tables all reflect the season and are decorated to the that they will benefit from great prices and this holds true not hilt. This will put some pressure on your visual merchandising team and buyers, but it is well worth the effort in terms of elevatjust for new stores openings, but reinventions as well. ing store presentation and experience. Britt Beemer, chairman of ARG, also reminds us that 57 percent of a store’s marketing brand identity is based on its exterior. Since store exteriors enjoy a seven-year-lifespan in today’s competitive Retail design strategist, trend expert, author, and idea merchant Connie Post has nearly 30 years of experience in the home furnishings industry and is responsible marketplace, where change is the only constant, our goal must for the look of more than 18 million square feet of retail and wholesale space be to create an exterior design with elements that can be easily around the globe. Connie is also a speaker, columnist, and a founding member and cost-effectively updated over time. of WithIt (Women in the Home Industries Today).

www.retailerNOWmag.com

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Elaine and Bobby Baer, Baer’s Furniture, Robert Stone, president and CEO of City of Hope, and Patti and Alan Cole, Hooker Furniture.

Congratulations to the Recipients of the

2014 Spirit of Life Award

The Baer Family Baer’s Furniture

and

Alan Cole

Hooker Furniture Thank you for your generosity and compassion for the City of Hope.


Sales & Marketing

WAYS TO GET STRONG REFERRALS—and lots of ‘em By Marc Wayshak

Running a small business in today’s economy requires a departure from conventional business rules. In order to sell a product or service, businesses can no longer rely upon old-school sales tactics of bygone eras. Prospects are overwhelmingly distrustful of the traditional sales pitch, they’re busier than ever and they have access to more information than ever before. As a result, small business owners must master a new set of tactics in order to make sales. The key is to start with strong referrals. It’s no secret that getting referrals from clients who believe in your services is an effective way to connect with new clients. But in today’s business world, it’s not enough to just get referrals -- they have to be strong, and there have to be lots of ‘em! Here are five ways to get lots of strong referrals:

 Stop calling them “referrals”!

Salespeople often tell me that when they ask for a referral, all they get is a name, a phone number and an instruction to “tell him I sent you.” This is not a referral -- it is, at best, a warm lead. The term “referral” is vague and unclear, which is why requests for them can frequently lead to disappointing outcomes. Instead of asking for referrals, ask for introductions. You want to be introduced directly to the person you want to meet, after all. The introduction can take place via face-to-face meeting, phone call, email exchange, or social media, but the key is that an actual introduction is made. Now, promise yourself you’ll never ask for a “referral” again!

 Get over your fear and ask!

I’ve done extensive research on what holds people back from getting more introductions, and it always comes back to the same issue: fear. Asking for introductions shows vulnerability and can feel uncomfortable. But the reality is that if you don’t ask, people will not think to introduce you. It’s your job to ask everyone in your network for introductions on a regular basis. The more you ask, the easier it becomes. In all of my years as a sales strategist, I’ve never heard of someone losing a client because they asked for an introduction. So what do you have to lose?

 An introduction a day…really adds up.

I have a challenge for you: Ask for one introduction every workday. It’s a task that takes less than five minutes, but it holds enormous potential for your business. Here’s how: One introduction per day equals five per week; five introductions per week equals 250 introductions per year. That’s a lot of introductions! Let’s say that you receive only one-in-five of the introductions you ask for -- that still means you’ll receive 50 introductions in one year. If you turn half of those introductions into sales, then you’ll have closed 25 new pieces of business. What are you waiting for?

 Ask for help.

Help. That simple four-letter word is one of the most powerful in the English language. When you ask for help, people generally want to give it to you. On the other hand, people are turned off by phony confidence and a reluctance to accept assistance. So ask for help when it comes to introductions, just as you would in any other context. Start the introduction conversation by saying, “I’m wondering if you might be able to give me a little help.” Let the person say that she is happy to help -- which she probably will be if you have any relationship at all. Then ask for the introduction to the type of prospect you’re looking to meet.

 Help people help you.

Salespeople frequently squander the chance to get introductions by not clearly explaining the exact type of prospect they’re looking to meet. When someone says that he’s willing to help you out with introductions, don’t respond, “Well, who do you know?” This forces the person to have to figure out which of the 1,000 people he knows to introduce you to. Instead, be laser-focused on the exact type of person you want to be introduced to. For example, you might say, “I’m looking to meet CEOs of companies with $10M-$40M in revenues in the healthcare space that are looking to grow sales.” When you get very specific, you narrow a person’s mental rolodex down to one-three people. Bingo!

When you focus on receiving more introductions (and actually take action!), your business can grow exponentially. If each of your clients introduced you to one new client, your business would double. By following these five simple strategies, you can bring on more clients without a massive effort. Marc Wayshak, www.marcwayshak.com, is a sales strategist who created the Game Plan Selling System. He is the author of two books on sales and leadership including, Game Plan Selling, and a regular online contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post Business section. @MarcWayshak

www.retailerNOWmag.com

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Sales & Marketing

IS YOUR ADVERTISING EFFECTIVE? By Hal McClamma & Tommy Miskelly

W

hen considering effective advertising, you must first clearly understand the goal of advertising and then validate and measure its effectiveness. Stellar retailers recognize that they must validate and measure everything they do in their business, including their advertising efforts.

There are two prevalent fallacies in advertising circles today. First is the notion that there is no such thing as bad advertising. If the ad fails to meet the criteria set forth below, it was a bad ad. And second, contrary to many so-called advertising experts, we believe that in this tepid economy image advertising is secondary to compelling advertising in the home furnishings industry. Image ads build a brand and compelling ads build sales. You should be concerned with building sales as you build your brand through compelling ads instead of just building a brand with image ads.

If an ad campaign did not work, do your homework and ask yourself a few questions. Was the ad compelling? Was there a call to action? Did the ad hit the target qualified customer demographic? Did the ad increase traffic? Was your sales staff poorly trained and therefore failed to convert qualified traffic into sales? Did the merchandise department blow it by not having sweet spot merchandise available for sale? Did the ad miss the merchandise sweet spot? Did you fail to properly identify the merchandise or demographic sweet spot? What are sweet spots? A sweet spot is defined as: the area around the center of mass of a bat, racket, or head of a club that is the most effective part with which to hit a ball. In the home furnishings industry, there are two sweet spots you must identify.

When considering the effectiveness of your advertising, ask yourself, “Did your last ad campaign work?” Almost without exception, retailers • The qualified demographic sweet spot. This is the heart of the customer demographic you’re attempting to reach. will respond by comparing sales data to the date range of the ad cam• The merchandising sweet spot. This is the heart of your paign and rating the ad’s success based on sales revenue results. merchandise lineup as validated by pure gross margin return on investment (GMROI). This is absolutely, 100 percent INCORRECT thinking. Instead, you should evaluate all of your advertising efforts with the following criteria:

• The main goal of advertising is to compel a qualified prospect to visit your store. QUESTION: Are your ads compelling? How do you know and can you validate it? • The goal of the sales team is to convert qualified traffic into sales revenue. QUESTION: Is your sales team effective? How do you know and can you validate it? • The goal of effective merchandising is to have product that aligns with the qualified target customer demographic and is in your merchandising sweet spot while providing acceptable return on investment. QUESTION: Is your merchandising plan effective? How do you know and can you validate it?

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You have to identify these two sweet spots in your business and then strengthen your efforts to make the biggest impact. Your advertising should compel sweet spot qualified traffic by offering sweet spot merchandise and it should blast your competitive advantage. What is your competitive advantage? Product selection, availability, price, company history, store policies, customer service—when you excel in these areas you set your store apart. Your competitive advantage and your product offering should be integral parts of an ad that compels a customer call or visit to your store.

www.retailerNOWmag.com


Sales & Marketing

THE MORE YOU KNOW You can’t maximize the effectiveness of your advertising efforts without knowing the answers to these questions: 1. What’s your competitive advantage? Why should someone buy from you? (We’ll let you in on a little secret—price is not enough!) You should have a minimum of five bullet points that comprise your competitive advantage. 2. Do you count store traffic and sales? By medium, day, hour, and salesperson? Do you track why or how you heard about us from customers? 3. What avenues of social media do you use? (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, email, etc.) Are you using text message marketing? 4. Do you run different offers or product in each medium so you can easily track each one’s effectiveness? Most retail advertising and marketing efforts in our industry remind me of a pinball machine. Retailers haphazardly buy ads across various media outlets, they don’t measure their results, and they repeat the same efforts month after month. There is no regard for budget, validation, or measurement. They’re accidental advertisers. Effective retail advertising is planned, proactive, and intentional. Everything is measured. Everything is reviewed. Everything is improved. Ineffective ads are not repeated. Promotions that work are augmented. An effective advertiser also understands effective layering of available media. Effective advertisers layer their efforts based upon their budgets and return on investment (ROI). They place the most dollars, time, and effort on the medium that has the highest ROI. Effective adverting also dictates that the high ROI medium is augmented or increased and the low ROI medium is either improved or eliminated. Sadly, many retailers do not measure anything and therefore do not know their ad campaign ROI. If you have a small ad budget, realize that you cannot have an effective overlapping TV, radio, Internet, newspaper, mail, and billboard campaign. There isn’t enough money to be effective in each medium. If you spread yourself too thin, the overall results will be underwhelming. Effective media layering is essential. The bottom line is, you can’t throw an ad together, randomly place it across any medium, and expect great results. Effective advertising takes time, hard work, and money—but the ROI is worth it. Hal McClamma, founder of Integrity Business Coaching, has more than 30 years of experience in the home furnishings industry working with companies such as Havertys, Barrows, Burdines, Maas Brothers, and Jordan Marsh. Tommy Miskelly, owner of top 100 retailer Miskelly Furniture, is IBC’s business development director. www.IntegrityBusinessCoaching.com

5. Does your store hold events to engage your customers? 6. What is your advertising mix? For example: 10 percent radio, 15 percent direct mail, 30 percent magazine, 25 percent TV, 20 percent newspaper. 7. Do you use Internet advertising? 8. Do you build an annual ad budget tied to your sales budget, merchandise plan, merchandise open-to-buy, and financial budget? 9. Do you monitor your website analytics? 10. Are you utilizing pay per click (PPC) advertising? Does your website show up in searches by generic product, specific vendors, specific competitors and even specific product you do not carry? And does your site show in searches even when someone searches for your competitor by name? Do you have multiple PPC ads running on Google, Yahoo, and Bing? Do you manage all search keywords and negative keywords weekly? 11. Do you use email to contact clients? Do you have a private email list and if so, how often do you contact your list? 12. Do you do private after-hours sales events in your store? 13. Do your sales people write thank-you cards to customers? Are they handwritten? What percentage of non-buyers get a thank-you card just for stopping in? 14. Who is your customer? What is your demographic sweet spot? 15. What is the household penetration of your local paper? Do you do track sales with circulation? Which days of the week work best in your market? 16. Have you performed a complete competitive analysis? What medium does your competition use most? 17. Does your store have a presence in the community? Do you host community charity events?

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Grant Laidlaw VP of Sales Eric Clarke President

Locations: Puyallup, WA Mira Loma, CA • Morganton, NC Fax: 828-764-4461 • Phone: 855-208-6377 Email: sales@NWFXpress.com Please contact Grant Laidlaw VP Sales at 778-549-3188 or glaidlaw@nwfxpress.com to review your transportation needs.

The Northwest Furniture Transportation Leader

www.NWFXpress.com


Technology

STREAMLINING CUSTOMER SERVICE

C

ustomer service is important to the home furnishings businesses, in fact, it’s arguably the lifeblood of the industry. Because it’s easier and less costly to keep a customer than to gain a new one, repeat business is the key to a healthy bottom line. Of course, the same principles apply whether the customer is the direct consumer or a retail buyer. Good customer service is all about bringing customers back; to achieve that, we must send them away happy enough to pass their positive feedback along to others.

proactively contact customers, even if only to exchange pleasantries. Customer service teams must be available to quickly and transparently handle returns and help customers properly use and maintain their purchases. Sales and service teams must also solicit customer feedback and use it to make lasting improvements.

information and interactions to help companies better manage customer sales and service. Data collection tools built into websites, social media, and point-of-sale solutions can provide data that can be analyzed by business intelligence solutions to track and predict customer preferences and customer care needs.

While all of these proven techniques remain important, today’s sales and customer service teams can and should also leverage new technologies to manage customer service in a more efficient and cost-effective way.

eCommerce and other technologies also help companies find new ways for customers to interact with your business when and how they want. Major improvements in POS systems extend the scope of product information available to sales associates and empower them to deliver the pre-and post-sale service that customers now demand. New mobile POS systems can even empower store buyers to check out on their own mobile devices; providing yet another touch point for sales and service.

Rather than being just a department, customer service must reflect the attitude Tech After-Sales Techniques of the entire organization. The quality of Companies have a range of technologies service you provide will either enhance available to improve customer service and or degrade customer loyalty. In today’s engender loyalty, including: crowded marketplace, businesses that are responsive to customer questions, com- • Websites plaints, or other needs can gain a clear • E-mail and social media competitive advantage. • Software and analytics After sales service makes sure products and • Self-service and point-of-sale services meet or surpass customer expectations. This typically involves a variety of Websites can be used to provide answers activities that are used to determine the to frequently asked questions as well as level of customer satisfaction. enable customers to seek answers from others. Providing an option for customTraditional After-Sales Techniques ers to register their complaints and have Providing good customer service tradi- them promptly addressed is essential tionally meant consistently maintaining today. Adding live help chat capabilities a few personal touch points with the cli- reduces customer service response time ent. When done correctly, these simple and increases customer satisfaction. These actions go a long way to ensuring good tools also enable sellers to receive priceless after-sale service: customer feedback. Many websites now include pop-up help options for online • Make it easy for customers to buyers to get personal assistance form a contact you. sales associate. They may also enable buyers to choose a rep during the checkout process • Don’t make promises you cannot keep. for ongoing help and service. In similar • Listen to your customers. ways, email and social media can be used to connect with customers and quickly • Deal with complaints promptly. respond to their needs. • Be helpful and courteous. In addition to always answering their calls, sales professionals need to

By Mona Nigam

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can centralize customer

www.retailerNOWmag.com

Clearly, technology has changed the way we interact and expanded the options for connecting with customers. However, if the technology is not adequate, customers and employees will quickly become disheartened. A frustrated customer can lead to lower company revenues through lost sales. When used properly, technology can not only reduce costs but also help employees work more efficiently and ease customer frustrations. Along with traditional customer service techniques, companies must also understand how new technologies can help anticipate customer needs, tailor business processes to best serve customers, and ultimately improve the efficiency of the business. In these and other important ways, technology can be used to bring customers back for more. Mona Nigam, executive vice president at MicroD, is an accomplished marketing executive with experience successfully driving global demand generation including email marketing, campaigns, field marketing, tradeshows, events, industry marketing, and solutions marketing.

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CULTIVATING REPEAT CUSTOMERS

W

e hear it all the time: “Customer confidence is low and people aren’t buying,” or “I’m just waiting for the economy to come back and then things will be back to normal.”

These factors may include: • Insufficient, under-lit, or inconvenient parking. • Narrow aisles or lack of customer-friendly ramps and elevators for elderly customers, customers with children, and handicapped customers.

Yes, the economy has a direct impact on consumerism, and little can be done regarding fluctuating demand and sluggish market conditions that create inconsistent selling trends. However, there are always steps a retailer can take to increase market share and grow sales and profitability in every market condition. One major key to growth is to get the customer back into your store again and again. First consider the things you may be doing to "impede" shopping frequency.

40

By Doug Knorr

• Limited hours of operation. Are you accommodating the shopping habits in your market? Do you need to be open longer in the evenings? What about Sunday hours? • Lack of consistent customer follow-up regarding nondisplayed items that just arrived, or new items that might interest the customer. • No enticements encouraging customers to come back into your store. Think about it, if your retail management team can identify those factors which impede customer shopping, you're already one step closer to increasing sales, profitability, and customer loyalty.

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Facebook fans are people who are interested in your brand, and ‘liked’ their experience. Reward them for their praise. Studies show it’s less expensive to bring existing customers back than to attract new ones. It makes sense, considering the expense of advertising necessary to lure new customers. Also, obtaining a new customer’s attention can often be a matter of timing. But, it is proven that the customer who just made a purchase is not done with the buying process. In fact, they are usually even more eager to make additional purchases that will enhance their living environment. Also, repeat customers are walking billboards. When a customer comes back and makes another purchase, chances are pretty good that he or she liked what they saw the first time around. And, from there, chances are she’s going to spread the word—publicity that comes free of charge to you. Following are some strategies for creating repeat business.

Exclusive “Best Customer” Promotions and Rewards

A great way to attract repeat business is to conduct direct mailings offering exclusive discounts and rewards to your most valued customers. By offering exclusivity, you show you value and reward customer loyalty, and this encourages customers to keep coming back. The ideas for events and rewards are almost unlimited. The point is to be creative and have fun with this one.

Trigger Mailings

Trigger mail programs, available from some manufacturers and agencies, are designed to automatically send a mailing piece, such as a postcard, offering customers an incentive to return to the store. Customer purchases literally “trigger” the mailings.

You can control the triggers (for example a customer buying a bed without a mattress would receive an offer on a mattress) and the frequency (offer send two-four weeks after purchase or 60 or 120 days, etc.) You can personalize the offer by customer name, and with some programs you can include a message and picture of the owner, salesperson, etc. Triggers are automatic and allow you to define and analyze your return on investment (ROI). After 10 months, one of our clients (who had invested less than $16,000 in a trigger mailing program) realized sales in excess of $1.7 million as a tracked, direct result of the mailings. That is an advertising cost of less than one percent! Now that’s ROI!

Prime Delivery

Borrowing from the Amazom.com model, you give the customer the choice to pay an additional delivery fee during their first purchase and, by doing so, the customer can make as many purchases as they want for the next twelve months and enjoy free delivery.

In-Store Events

Ladies Night Out, decorating classes, etc. can be fun and meaningful ways to bring customers back into your store. On-line strategies are an immediate and economical way to drive customers back into your brick and mortar store or your online store.

Email Marketing

Your email subscribers have potential to be your best customers. They have raised their hand and said, “Yes, I want you to talk directly to me.” Email messages that are relevant, fresh, and contain exclusive offers and information will get their attention and keep them coming back for more.

Facebook

Many of your Facebook fans are people who are interested in your brand, and ‘liked’ their experience. Offering exclusive offers and information to your Facebook fan base is a great way to encourage repeat business. This could be in the form of coupons/offers, access to early promotions, asking opinions to help you select merchandise to carry in-store, and much more!

E-Commerce

In 2013, 25 percent of all furniture purchases happened online. Wayfair.com passed $1 billion in sales 2013. Your customers are looking online for products they can find in your store. Consumers want to shop on their terms, but they also want customer service from a local entity. That’s why Walmart allows customers to buy many items online and receive their item via mail or pick it up at a local store. In addition, most Walmart. com items can be returned, replaced, or exchanged for free at any Walmart store. Allowing your customers to shop on their terms, and removing roadblocks from their purchase process, will make your marketing far more efficient. What every retailer needs to understand is that when a customer makes a purchase, it is just the beginning of an ongoing sales relationship…not the end! Start focusing on getting the customer back into the store after making a purchase and you will realize additional growth and profitability. The return on investment (ROI) is high, the efforts are relatively small and your relationship with your existing customers will only get stronger! Douglas Knorr, known as a “retail marketing activist” is president of Knorr Marketing (www.knorrmarketing.com), a full-service marketing and advertising agency specializing in the home furnishings industry.

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Membership

Most workplace injuries involve workers who have

been on the job for the less than a year, many have been on the job for fewer than 30 days. New workers may be experienced in another line of work or they may just be coming out of school with very little, or no job knowledge. They may not be aware of the hazards they could face in the workplace or the proper safety procedures to follow that would help to protect them.

The most effective safety training starts from the day the worker is hired. For example in California, a good place to start is by explaining the company’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). The IIPP “training umbrella” requires workers to be trained in two major areas: `` General safety — areas that affect all employees, such as fire drills or other emergency procedures `` Specific training — for the hazards associated with the employee’s job assignment

It is the responsibility of the employer to provide training that will enable workers to perform their jobs in a safe, efficient, and productive manner, while also complying with No matter which state you’re in, all training, no matter how brief, should be documented and should be placed in the the regulations and standards that apply to their industry. employee’s file or training log. Training is required: A commonly overlooked part of safety training is the lan- `` For all new employees, and employees who have been guage barrier. This issue may go unnoticed, because very few transferred to a new job activity works will admit they do not understand job instructions `` Whenever new hazards are introduced (chemical or being given by the employer. Not being able to understand physical) safety instructions, however, can quickly lead to work injuries, incorrect machine operation or problems with production, `` Whenever new hazards are recognized, such as an updated Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) quality or compliance. Therefore, the trainer must make sure every worker understands the training material; not just that `` For supervisors to familiarize themselves with the a worker was present. safety and health hazards of employees under their supervision It is vital that workers understand the purpose of the training, why it will be of use to them, and the consequences of Now is a good time to review training requirements and not following safety rules and procedures. Training material be aware that annual training may be required for certain should be organized so that the order in which the material activities or hazardous exposures. To learn more about the is presented will match the safety procedures that are to be training requirements for your particular workplace operafollowed on the job. tion visit the NAHFA Safety Spot at www.NAHFA.org. 44

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MORE Programs – MORE Benefits – MORE Savings These exciting and robust programs are open to all NAHFA members and are not available to outside brokers.

BUSINESS INSURANCE PROGRAM

Together with Association Insurance Services (AIS) and their program with The Hartford, we bring you the only Home Furnishings Industry Business Insurance Program. We are building the largest volume to control YOUR pricing, giving you a greater voice. We offer pricing concessions, dividend programs and special forms of coverage.

There is a difference between an “offering of insurance” and a “program.”

Most associations and buying groups offer a service through an endorsed agency.

A program offers a special classification with the insurance carrier, creating buying volume.

Choose from competitively priced plans for:

Ask About Our HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM

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“Thank you so much for putting me in touch with Jim Saris about our workman’s comp insurance. He and his team Tammy Post, who is a pleasure to work with over the phone and email, saved us $4200. It is great to have a service thru our association that helps you with these kind of savings. Thanks again for all that the NAHFA does to make business easier and profitable.” —Dianne Ray, Garden City Furniture, SC

The NEW North American Home Furnishings Association is committed to helping you Sell More, Make More and Keep More


NAHFA FEATURED PRODUCT When it comes to being safe there are NO SHORTCUTS. Safety Products Available at Member Discounted Prices! The Handy Safety Cutter

3-Position Handy Safety Cutter (right handed only) Item# W802 $3.98 (member price) Safety Point Handy Safety Cutter Replacement Blades Item# W806 $10.95 (member price)

Security Truck Seals

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Membership

by Kaprice Crawford

R

etailers small and large deal with myriad issues every day—and human resource concerns and questions are likely one of the most overlooked. Whether you have a dedicated HR department or you’re wearing that hat along with all of your others—your Association can help.

Do these questions sound familiar? `` How can I terminate a problem employee (without being sued)? `` Do I have to hold a job open and reinstate an employee who has been on a medical leave of absence? `` Can I just terminate an employee who has been on an (extended) disability leave due to a work-related injury? `` Is this position exempt from overtime since we pay the employee a salary? `` What happens when our non-exempt employees do not take their lunch break or fails to complete and submit their timesheets on time in order for them to be paid on payday? These and probably a hundred other human resource questions affect your business. The most common and ongoing problems facing all businesses today relate to dealing effectively with employees, government rules and regulations, and legal issues.

employee relation’s issues that are unique to your company. ACG’s team is comprised of operations and human resources specialists, former union officials, attorneys, OSHA and environmental safety compliance specialists, and bilingual consultants.

countless times! Not

With this membership program, you can quickly get accurate guidance on any employment relations issues, including hiring, termination, wage and hour laws and regulations, affirmative action plans, OSHA/environmental safety compliance, harassment, discrimination, employment policy development, leaves-of-absence, employee opinion survey analysis, and other areas of either state or federal regulations and requirements.

only do they keep

This annual, prepaid service provides unlimited phone, fax, and email access to ACG’s team. For a reduced fee, members also have access to ACG’s data library, (reference volumes on EEOC, wage and hour laws, arbitration reports, Bureau of National Affairs, California employment law, personnel forms, etc.) and network of outside experts.

I can pick up the

Members also receive reduced fees for onsite HR and safety audits, seminars/training classes, letters or HR form development and other important services offered by ACG. Reduced fee based services also include third-party HR function auditing, As one of your member benefits, the employee handbook reviews, and HR comNAHFA has paid the retainer for all pliance and management support services members to have FREE ACCESS to (employment classification and harassment one of the largest, most successful labor, and management training). employee relations, HR, and workplace safety consulting firms in the nation— The next time you have HR concerns or American Consulting Group, Inc. (ACG). get bogged down questions, make the most of your NAHFA membership. It’s ACG’s team of HR/labor/safety special- like having your own, built-in, free, HR ists are a great resource and can help you department. with questions about state and federal employment issues, safety compliance, and

“ACG has saved me

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me compliant with the most current labor laws and proper documentation, but

phone and call them at any time for free. This program is one of the most important membership benefits I have!” George Nader, Nader’s La Popular, Gardena, Calif. Kaprice Crawford is NAHFA’s membership team leader. Contact her at kcrawford@nahfa.org or (800) 422-3778 ext. 102.

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Sales & Marketing

“…buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is already complete.”

By Kevin Doran

Content marketing used to be comprised

CONTENT MARKETING TAKES TIME!

of only a small group of bloggers and YouTube enthusiasts. According to a 2012 study by AOL (a popular Internet service provider) and Nielsen (a leading global information and measurement company, provides market research, insights & data), 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared every day. Content has turned from something web people do, to an essential marketing tool for retailers.

Content marketing is not a miracle worker. More than likely you will not see a huge ROI in one week from it either. It works because it takes a considerable amount of information and effort, but it creates something of value for your audience. That information helps them make decisions whether to buy from you or go to the store down the street.

Content marketing differs from advertising in two ways: First, content consists of owned or earned media. If you’re buying media (pay-per-click, re-targeting ads, etc.) it's considered advertising, not content marketing. Second, content marketing is a pull type of advertising, rather than a push form of advertising. Content is built to attract and gain awareness from Ms. Jones rather than to disrupt her.

The best way to start content marketing is with a blog. According to Hubspot (a software platform that helps companies with inbound marketing), Internet users in the U.S. spend triple the amount of time on blogs as compared to email.

WHY START CONTENT MARKETING?

Ms. Jones’ shopping journey and habits have shifted and continue to change every day. With the increase of social and digital platforms this has made information easy to obtain, and your customers are turning to these channels first even before stepping into your store or looking at your website.

According to the Corporate Executive Board’s Marketing Leadership Council (the world’s largest member-based advisory company), buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is already complete. Do you want to join in on that 57 percent and help shape Ms. Jones’ buying process? Or do you want to leave an empty space that your competitors will fill?

WILL IT REPLACE ADVERTISING?

Of course not! For the greatest impact and maximum success, content and advertising should be integrated. Collectively, content and advertising can create a brand story that truly taps into the human emotion of a consumer. Marketing is the whole business in the eyes of the consumer. It’s your job to give your customers a story to tell.

BEST WAY TO START CONTENT MARKETING?

To help get your blog get off the ground here are four tips to creating a successful blog:

1. Create a Blog Personality

This is the chance to let your brand and store shine. Don't create content that feels like you’re reading out of a textbook. Customers read to enjoy themselves not to study. Remember you’re a furniture store for a reason. Keep focused on your product and brand!

2. Be Consistent

When starting out, try to post at least three times a week, preferably every other day.

3. Keep It Simple

Don't get caught up in how long your posts have to be. A blog can be as simple as talking about new products on the showroom floor to a testimonial a customer just gave you. The key is to make them interesting and thought provoking.

4. Focus on Your Title

Titles help capture the attention of potential readers and more importantly search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) love blog titles. A rule of thumb is to keep your title under 10 words.

Kevin Doran is the CEO of R&A Marketing. Armed with more than 25 years of furniture retail marketing experience as a full-service traditional and digital marketing company, R&A works with retailers in the home furnishings, appliances, and electronics industries.Visit www.ramarketing.com or email info@ramarketing.com for more information.

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THANK YOU

Our Association gratefully recognizes all of our supporters whose dedication and commitment has strengthened our industry. ACA/Advertising Concepts of America AICO/Amini Innovation Corp. American Express American Leather Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. Aspenhome Associated Volume Buyers Becker Designed, Inc. Bernards, Inc. Best Buy for Business Best Home Furnishings Braxton Culler, Inc. Cargo Consolidation Services Century Furniture Coaster Company of America Cory Home Delivery Service DĂŠcor-Rest Furniture Ltd. Diakon Logistics DSI Companies Ekornes Elements International Elite Leather Emerald Home Furnishings Fairmont Designs Flexsteel Furniture of America Furniture Wizard FurnitureDealer.net GE Capital Great American Furniture Services Guardian Products Guardsman/The Valspar Corp.

Harden Furniture Company High Point Market Authority Holland House Homelegance USA HFB Magazine Horich Hector Lebow Advertising Consulting Services, Inc. Innovative Delivery Systems Jofran Sales, Inc. Julius M. Feinblum Real Estate, Inc. Kincaid King Hickory Furniture Co Lane Home Furnishings Lazar Industries Lea Leggett & Platt Liberty Furniture Lifestyle Enterprises Linon Home DĂŠcor Products Magnussen Home Mail America Massood Logistics Med-Lift Mobility MicroD, Inc. Mohawk Finishing Products, Inc. Myriad Software Natuzzi Americas, Inc. NetSertive Nourison Industries Okinus Credit Solutions Pacific Furniture Dealers

Phoenix A.M.D. International, Inc. PROFITsystems Protect-A-Bed Restonic Mattress Corp. Sandberg Furniture SAP Retail Serta Mattress Companies Simmons Shock Watch Sleep-Ezz Source International, Inc./4 Sales Finance Sphinx by Oriental Weavers Standard Furniture Steve Silver Co. STORIS Surya The TV Shield The Uttermost Company Tidewater Finance Company Trendwood, Inc. Tropic Survival Advertising & Marketing TruckSkin, LLC Twin Star/Classic Flame United Furniture Industries Valassis, Inc. Vaughan Furniture Co. Versatile Systems Wahlquist Management Corporation World Market Center Zenith Global

To become an industry partner contact: North American Home Furnishings Association 800.422.3778 or email: cwilliams@nahfa.org


Government Relations

Government Relations IT’S NOT A NEW TAX: MARKETPLACE FAIRNESS ACT We hope by now you are all aware of the Marketplace Fairness Act and what it means to the industry. In a nutshell, if the Act (which was passed by the Senate in 2013) becomes law, states would be given the ability to collect sales taxes from online retailers, just as they currently collect from brick-and-mortar stores. It’s not a NEW tax, as some legislators erroneously think. It is an existing tax that, up until now, online retailers have been exempt from collecting and remitting if they did not have a physical location (warehouse, office, delivery system, etc.) in the state.

By Lisa Casinger

Prior to the hearing, the NAHFA rallied “When their businesses are threatened beits members and sent a letter to Chairman cause they cannot beat an online price Goodlatte encouraging him to release point purely due to the application of the legislative language and support the sales tax, that not only negatively impacts the owner and the employees, but it creates Committee's ongoing efforts. a ripple effect in a community that will The letter explains that like many others not be repaired by a website that has no in the retail industry, furniture retailers connection to that locale.” are facing increasing competition from online sales. Industry data suggests that In February, the Advocates for Independent e-commerce websites sold $2.4 billion Business and the Institute for Local Selfin furniture in 2011 and that number Reliance released the results of their is expected to double by 2016. Online national survey of 2,602 independent furniture sales increased 11.1% year- business owners. More than 75 percent of those respondents said the online sales tax disparity was negatively affecting their business. This issue affects business owners everywhere, in every industry.

“When their businesses are threatened because they cannot beat an online price point purely due to the application of the sales tax, that not only negatively impacts the owner and the employees, but it creates a ripple effect in a community that will not be repaired by a website that has no connection to that locale.” Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has said he opposes the Senate’s language, but is interested in crafting legislation to change the online sales tax laws. Last fall he released seven principles for online taxes—tax relief, neutrality, representation, simplicity, tax competition, states’ rights, and privacy. These principles helped focus the debate, and in March the Judiciary Committee held a highly anticipated hearing to further the discussion.

This is the most traction and attention the national Internet sales tax issue has ever received, and it does have support from both Republicans and Democrats. While the next step in the House is unclear, we strongly encourage our retailers to continue the momentum that’s been gained by so many group efforts. Contact your representatives (especially the Republicans) and let them know how this tax disparity affects your business and community. over-year in 2012 alone and account for The most effective way to keep this issue roughly 9% of total furniture sales. The on Congress’ radar is to make your voice special treatment of online sellers creates a heard. We will continue to remain engaged huge disparity and puts many local brick- in Washington to further the debate as well. and-mortar businesses at a competitive It is also worth noting that some states disadvantage. have their own internet sales tax laws “Our members are strong pillars of the local in place. Nolo.com is a good resource community and are very well-known, re- for learning about the specific laws in spected, and involved with local activities,” each state. http://www.nolo.com/legalNAHFA’s CEO, Sharron Bradley wrote encyclopedia/50-state-guide-internet-salesin the letter sent to Chairman Goodlatte. tax-laws.html.

Lisa Casinger is NAHFA’s government relations liaison. You can reach her at lcasinger@nahfa.org or (800) 422-3778 x305.

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The Scoop

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the scoop

Dave Harkness, Harkness Furniture, Tacoma, Wash., presents a reimbursement check to Doris Merkt of Auburn, Wash. Photo © Ken Emly

What’s going on with our retailers across the country

vvHarkness Furniture and Fans Win While many retailers may have run Super Bowl Harkness ended up presenting checks to several XLVIII sales events, one Tacoma, Wash. furniture customers during a Reimbursement Party in March. retailer was particularly invested in their home-state The event honored the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win team. Dave and Cyndi Harkness, owners of Harkness and acknowledged winners of the free furniture Furniture, have been Seahawks season-ticket holders promotion with refreshments, door prizes, comsince 1977. To show their love and support for their memorative gifts, and distribution of more than team, they ran a 12-12-12 promotion—in honor $70,000 in reimbursement checks.  of the 12th man of the Seahawks they offered a 12 percent discount, $12 delivery, and 12-month free “It was totally worth it as I had 65 customers thank financing. me; they became instant advocates of Harkness Furniture,” Harkness said. “We felt it a privilege to be in the position to combine something for our business along with our love for The family-owned furniture and mattress retailer, the Seahawks,” Harkness said. “In addition, if the that’s been in business since 1920, was interviewed Seahawks ran back their opening kickoff, everyone by local radio and news stations and the story was who purchased during the promotion Thursday- picked up by the AP. Harkness said, “You just can’t Sunday got their purchase price reimbursed.” buy that kind of positive publicity.” 52

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The Scoop

LA Furniture Store opened its fifth Los Angeles design center.

vvLA Furniture Store Opens Fifth L.A. Location LA Furniture Store opened its fifth Los Angeles-area location in March. The 40,000 square-foot store spans three floors and the retailer has added an exclusive line of Italian furniture from SMA. LA Furniture, owned by Irene Reznik, sells modern, contemporary, and Italian designs and it offers interior design services. The new design center will employ 15 interior designers. LA Furniture Store also has a location in Miami and New York.

plans are very challenging and I know that we will be very successful as we continue to grow.”

vvMicroD VIP Roundtable on eCommerce

MicroD hosted a group of industry VIPs for a roundtable discussion on March 12, 2014 at its Charlotte, N.C. location. The distinguished group of participants represented furniture manufacturers, retailers and suppliers to the trade. Led by MicroD’s Jesse Akre, senior vice president of commerce, Manoj Nigam, CEO “We began this company nine years ago as small furniture outlet,” & president, and Jessica Norby, business development executive, said Reznik. “To expand the display of our furniture, we opened our the group looked at topics related to the theme, “Adapting to newest and largest location to act as a design center to introduce on Maximize the Evolving eCommerce and Digital Landscape”. a regular basis the newest trends from oversea designers to interior Participants shared experiences with these web-centric topics: designers, affiliates of the industry, and to the public.”

vJohn v Wyatt Joins Art Van as VP, Real Estate and Construction Kim Yost, CEO of Art Van Furniture, Warren, Mich., recently named John Wyatt as vice president, real estate and construction. Wyatt will be responsible for leading Art Van Furniture’s real estate, construction, property management, new business development, and franchising groups. Art Van Furniture is the largest independent furniture retailer in the U.S., with stores in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana. During his 25-year career, Wyatt has worked with a variety of iconic retail brands, including Eddie Bauer, Nike, Starbucks, Bob Evans, Brinker Restaurants, and Michaels. He was also responsible for the design and construction of Niketown flagship stores around the world and in 2012 and 2013, Wyatt received the Design of the Year Award from the Retail Design Institute, Chain Store Age, and Global Shop for a new Aaron Brothers stores prototype. “I am very excited to be joining Art Van Furniture at such a critical time,” Wyatt said in a press release. “Our growth and expansion

• Current conditions and challenges for creating strategies on eCommerce and digital space • Product data and content management as a competitive advantage • Attracting customers via digital marketing compared to traditional channels • Syncing digital with your business model • Best practices for marketing and selling online • Manufacturers and retailers working together to fulfill consumer expectations and create a content strategy • The power of large number search engine traffic in the home furnishings industry • Making the web the centerpiece of a retail organization Collaboration across all industry segments will be a key factor in addressing eCommerce and digital trends both now and moving forward. Best practices and industry standards were identified as topics to be addressed in future sessions. Continued on page 55 Ø

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Calendar

MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR THESE INDUSTRY EVENTS Check out Networking News on page 34 for NAHFA Regional Events

International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF)

Dallas Total Home & Gift Market

Tupelo Furniture Market

May 17-20, 2014

June 18-24, 2014

Tupelo, Mississippi www.tupelofurnituremarket.com

Jacob K. Javits Center, NY www.Icff.org

Dallas, Texas www.dallasmarketcenter.com

KEM Furniture & Accessory Market

Atlanta Summer Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market

May 21-22, 2014

July 8-15, 2014

August 14-17, 2014

NY NOW

Long Beach, California www.kemexpo.com

1-3, 2014

Atlanta, Georgia www.americasmart.com

Phoenix, Arizona www.thehfnc.com

July 27-21, 2014

Kissimmee, Florida www.kemexpo.com

KEM Furniture & Accessory Market August 3-5, 2014

June 1-4, 2014

Edison, New Jersey www.kemexpo.com

GET THE APP ENJOY COOL EXPERIENCES and SHARE with COLLEGUES

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CLEARLY A SMART APP FOR A BUSY RETAILER DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE AT NAHFA.ORG/MYAPP

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KEM Furniture & Accessory Mart September 7-8, 2014

Showtime High Point, North Carolina www.showtime-market.com

New York, New York www.nynow.com

Las Vegas Market Las Vegas, Nevada www.lasvegasmarket.com

June 1-3, 2014

August 16-20, 2014

GOT QUESTIONS

800.422.3778 www.retailerNOWmag.com

International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market September 16-19, 2014 The Merchandise Mart, Chicago www.casualmarket.com


Issue 1

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Continued from page 53

vvE.R. Brown Furniture Celebrates 100 Years

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of the Holiday

Season

The beauty of the lies deeply in sharingholiday season Another way to with family add high style and friends. But with ease is with the fact (you have it’s also embrac permanent florals to get those ing the traditions, such as topiari throats back in many es and sprigs. shape) as well and sounds associa of them sights These items can provide as cookies that look ted with this a simple center almost too good special time of piece for your to eat! Don’t be year. Here are holiday table or comes to it surprised if as s a n few that make guests room Whe you might want a striking vignet your leave, they ask g, dining to work into te in your foyer. to be put on your own celebra decoratin the least Perman the ent invite of florals tions. list for next year. are by no means are some es limited to topiari Every family has ted spac es, either. You’ll Of all the sights complica their own tradifind wreaths, garlan and sounds of tions, things that the season, howev ds, centerpieces have to be done and all manner er, there’s nothin order for the of decorations. ing more heart-w holiday season What arming than the to be could be easier to “official”. This sight put year, low of up family and friends though, why not that matter — or, for take a look at k, easy and walking , take down at your tradition Some quic decorating the end of through your front door the season? with new eyes? Not for and the sounds of merrym necessarily to cost tips aking and good change tel for the what you already While holiday cheer. Other traditi your man have, but instead ons may come to embellish further , a large degree traditions are, to holidays and go, but those , about decora . can never be ting in and around replaced. You may find that the house, they’re even one new by no means limited addition to your to that. Just list of customs may as important as all give your celebra the glitter and tion glamour that we Wreaths, for instan a fresh twist. surround ourselv ce, have long es with are the sounds been placed on of the season. many a front door, There’s nothing welcoming all quite like hearin those g limit them to the who enter. Why the strains of “Silver Bells” exterior, though for the first time every Find a few more ? December. Or lisfor tening to your ment so that you, interior placechildren sing “Jingle too, can enjoy Bells” during their them the whole holiday pagean season through. t. The dining room is If music is what a good example, brings the pro- warmth viding that wreath of the holiday s don’t all have to be made of you, why not share s home to evergreens and it with friends that if one is good, and neighbors? more is even better! If you’re timid This tendency about your singing ability to multiplicity , has another advant a handful of friends simply invite age, too: Even over for an if you coul have just moved d go al session inform into new The around your homefirst ned with at the holiday ead ofa one. game to do someth piano. time — withand be ador If you’re trees inst ing treatments room windowpipe on cleaaner grander scale, notfam and endyetily s, in sight r— star in the put together a fine line this simple decora , once carolin of pape sing that g party, whethe neridea ting (In fact will getlike. all man r it’s for a half lies in cros rut. you n”hour into the spirit. the or an entire s and the tea afternoon. Provide danger candy cane have “outgrow ing up in certain exci that your a l in hot unti puts chocol dren y emly yourself is a new your chil them awa own.) ate and mulled cider after each Dec es It invariab If you find t; all you need r ns, pack air when, box thei a ratio e r of the hear tipl deco in déco dren ment the mul zone, take give your have chil nwhile, might go pull out hout about the children or two to ons. Wit ber, you tree, mea , where your element ters, how ily decorati t. For star is it written that The second d-true fam of holiday be ter bedroom re fresh twis give any tried-an in your mas d decorations can s tree? Whe that it must giving up here’s how you can Christma and sure . ? Think t be one most trea traditions, twist this year there mus family room tyle. living or used. holiyours a new family’s lifes aps, be in the se for the your hou t abou g your d inside customs that, perh carefully Decoratin Continue ys involves little ones y from lights — if alwa s The have st North year you Americ awa Do days almo created le of better kept Council serve to an Home Furnishings Association probably often than would be promote home ts for a coup smaller and The Home that were ago. More : there’s inspiring the consum fashion ornamen Furnish rations— ider two and glass er to realize their and furnishings with the purposings welcome not gene might cons dream of the Haven e of ’s more thanwarmth and secu years? You not, that that is Home. amount of The only danger a certain it. goes with rity that

HAVEN

You don’t need to break tradition to add a new twist to your holiday decor this year

FREE

Issue 1

December 2013

When it comes to decorating, dining rooms are some of the least complicated spaces

Some quick, easy and cost tips for decora low ting your mantel for the holidays

Four-page holiday version of Haven, which NAHFA made available to members.

ga Planninab le comfort home

gs

immin All The Tr

Ad Index

HAVEN

All The Trimming

Planning a comfortable home

s The Association is in talks with industry groups and NAHFA’s Consumer Relations team to determine the future scope and direction of the HFC, its website, and content development.

It invariably puts a certain excite ment in the air when, each Decem ber, you pull out the multiple boxes of holiday decora tions. Without giving up any tried-and-true family traditions, here’s how you can give yours a new twist this year. Decorating your house for the holidays almost always that were probab involves customs ly created years — if not generations— ago. More often not, that’s more than than welcome: there’s a certain amoun t of warmth and security that goes with it. The only danger

lies in crossing that fine line and ending up in a rut. trees instead of one. in the family room The first could go If you find yourse and be adorne lf in that danger d with all manner of paper zone, take heart; all you need is stars, pipe cleane candy canes and a new element or two r the to give your décor your children have like. (In fact, once fresh twist. For a starters, how about “outgrown” the decorations, pack Christmas tree? the them Where is it written there must be that children have childre away until your one and that it n of their own.) must The second tree, be in the living meanwhile, might or family room? in your master Think go carefully about bedroom, where your your most treasured Do you have little family’s lifestyle. decorations can ones that, perhap be used. would be better s, kept away from lights and glass orname nts for a couple of years? You might consider two smalle r Continu

The E.R. Brown Furniture Co., West Frankfort, Ill., is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The Southern Illinois four-generation family business began in 1914 by selling coal burning stoves and iron beds. Perseverance and $1 a week customer payments were the secret to success “First and foremost our mission is to support our retail through the depression, world wars, and coal mine strikes. Owner members,” said Sharron Bradley, NAHFA CEO. “Providing E.R. Brown opened second store, W. Frankfort House Furnishing them with tools and resources to educate consumers is an inCo. in 1946 and it continues also. Second generation family mem- tegral part of what our Consumer Affairs team does. The team bers, Warren and Bud Brown and their brother-in-law, Jim Gray, is comprised of member volunteers who are passionate about guided the operation in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.Third generation reaching out to consumers and finding ways the industry as a brothers, Sloan and Andy Brown, have managed the two stores whole can influence their understanding of our products and since 1978. Today, the fourth generation, brothers Kyle and Matt their purchasing habits.” Brown, is taking over the day-to-day reins. Consumer education historically has been a conundrum for the home furnishings industry as a one-size fits all push will vvNAHFA Revives Home Furnishings Council The North American Home Furnishings Association (NAHFA) has not sufficiently meet the needs of each segment. It will take a assumed management of the Home Furnishings Council (HFC), combined, industry-wide educational effort to reach a level of consumer awareness that can even begin to chip away at the the industry source for consumer education. In December, the NAHFA produced a four-page Holiday version of Haven, which focus on price above quality. it made available to members. Share your news and events with RetailerNOW. Email us a news@nahfa.org. gs e Furnishin of The Hom ose ciation andgs with the purp e. Hom ishings Asso ishin Home Furne fashion and furn the Haven that is American of The North e to promote hom ize their dream real serv to cil r Coun ume the cons inspiring

ADVERTISER

PHONE

ed inside

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

FurnitureWizard

@furniturewiz

PAGE#

Furniture Wizard

(619) 869-7200

furniturewizard.com

GE Capital

(800) 422-3778

nahfa.org

30

Home Furnishings Networking Conf.

(800) 422-3778

theHFNC.com

HomeFurnishingsConference

@HFNC2014

43

High Point Market Authority

(336) 869-1000

highpointmarket.org

http://tinyurl.com/HighPtMarket

@hpmarketnews

07

Las Vegas Market

(702) 599-9621

lasvegasmarket.com

facebook.com/lvmarket

@lasvegasmarket

23

Jaipur Rugs

(404) 351-2360

jaipurrugs.com

JaipurLifestyle

@jaipurlifestyle

Inside Back

Kincaid Furniture

(800) 438-8207

kincaidfurniture.com

KincaidFurnitureCompany

@KincaidFurn46

09

Lynch Sales

(616) 458-6662

lynchsales.com

LynchSales

@lynchsales

17

MicroD

(800) 964-3876

microdinc.com

MicroDinc

@microdinc

Back Cover

NAHFA App

(800) 422-3778

retailerNOWmag.com

RetailerNOW

@retailerNOW

42

NAHFA Membership Marketplace

(800) 422-3778

nahfa.org

theNAHFA

@theNAHFA

45

NAHFA Products

(800) 422-3778

nahfa.org

theNAHFA

@theNAHFA

46

NewComLink

(855) 229-3713

NewComLink.com

NewComLink

@NewComLink

48

Northwest Furniture Xpress

(828) 475-6377

nwfxpress.com

NWFXpress

PROFITsystems

(800) 888-5565

profitsystems.com

PROFITsystems

@PROFITsystems

24

Serta

(888) 557-3782

serta.com

SertaMattress

@SertaMattresses

03

Simple Finance

(800) 742-1789

gosimplefin.com

Gosimplefinance

@gosimplefinance

27

STORIS

(888) 4-STORIS

storis.com

STORIS.solutions

@STORIS

17

Surya

(877) 275-7847

surya.com

SuryaSocial

@SuryaSocial

Inside Cover

05

www.retailerNOWmag.com

38

M AY | 2 0 1 4

55


A quick dose of fun facts, random trivia, and useful (or useless) bits of info

The Now List

#1 New Jobs

ZEN CITIES

Houston ranks #1 New Jobs as the best environment for job creation (San Diego is the worst) among the nation’s 50 largest metro areas. Reports are based on hiring activity versus layoffs.

Provo-Orem, Utah, leads in well-being out of 189 U.S. communities surveyed in 2012-2013, while Huntington-Ashland, W.Va.-Ky.-Ohio, comes in last. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., tops all large communities in well-being.

YOU HAVE 7 SECONDS

America’s Research Group, as well as other retail experts, has found that a customer makes a decision whether they will shop your store within seven seconds of walking through the front door. This makes the first 1,000 to 2,000 square feet of your store the most important real estate you own.

BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE MODELS

THE GRAND OPENING

According to America’s Research Group (ARG), a grand opening is the most believable sale or event in customers’ minds. Outstanding household debt increased to $241 during last October— December, the biggest quarterly jump since 2007.

The 10 companies with the best customer service (according to Zobgy Analytics in partnership with MSN): #1— Amazon, Marriott International, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, United Parcel Service, FedEx, Google, State Farm, Samsung, Trader Joe’s, and Lowe’s Home Improvement. The World Wide Web turned 25 this year—so did Photoshop.

use social networking sites. Women, African-Americans, and Latinos show high interest in sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

owned by large banks (worldwide) rely on Windows XP and only about a third will have been upgraded to Windows 7 by the support cutoff deadline.

50 MILLION USERS

Foursquare sees six million check-ins each day and 50 million brands and users have used its platform to-date.

According to Mac Observer, Google Drive has the cheapest cloud storage per gigabyte--$9.99 a month for one terabyte of storage (down 80%).

As of September 2013, 91% of American adults have a cell phone, 55% have a smartphone, and 42% have a tablet computer.

72% of online adults

95% of the ATMs

National Coffee Association of USA’s National Coffee Drinking Trends study results show that 29% of Americans are brewing with single-cup brewers (up almost 10% from last year).

$317,500

Average sales price of new single-family homes in the US. California was $410,990, Texas was $247,534, Massachusetts was $320,00, New York was $238,500.

Sources: Gallup.com, Reuters, National Coffee Association, Mac Observer, Pew Research Center, Americas Research Group, Foursquare, US Census Bureau 56

M AY | 2 0 1 4

www.retailerNOWmag.com


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May 2014—After the Sale