• Clint Engel

Renegade event examines transforming future of furniture

MELVILLE, N.Y. — Renegade Furniture Group’s third annual industry networking event drew more than 350 people with an educational program built around technology, innovation and insights into the future of furniture and furniture shopping.

Following a welcome from Renegade CEO Bruce Krinsky, Wayfair’s senior director of category management Ryan Fitzpatrick took the stage with a presentation illustrating how the home is transforming and how consumers are moving more toward mobile.

Fitzpatrick said consumers also are showing an increased interest in the integration of technology and furniture as well as performance fabrics, and he shared how the Boston-based e-commerce giant is moving forward with 3D imagery, augmented reality and the next wave of virtual reality features.

Wayfair also is continuing to develop its logistics network to deliver to customers within a couple of days.

Jason Robinson, marketing director at UPS, shared details from its commissioned 2017 “Pulse of the Online Shopper” study released last month. The survey delved into in-store and online buying trends, the types of devices consumers use in the process and how shipping costs and speed affect their decisions. Robinson said more than 40% of online purchasers of large home items are willing to pay a fee for delivery for specific delivery dates and time windows and that quick checkout, staff inventory knowledge and helpful service are top factors when shopping for larger home items.

Ashley President Kerry Lebensburger discussed “The Furniture Store of the Future” and that retailers who truly understand and can provide what customers demand are the ones that will continue to grow — most notably larger chains, which continue to take market share from smaller brick-and-mortar operators.

Google representative Emily Smith highlighted the rising importance of mobile in the consumers shopping journey and the need to “win in digital.” While the vast major of home furnishings sale continue to take place offline, Smith said 71% of furniture store sales are “digitally influenced.”

Other sessions included a High Pont Market report from High Point Market Authority President and CEO Tom Conley; news from the International Home Furnishings Representatives Assn., presented by President Tommy Leflein; and shopping trends of credit-orient consumers from Len Eschweiler, senior vice president of retail for Affirm.

Renegade, a Cedarhurst, N.Y.-based home furnishings e-tailer, presented “Partners of the Year” awards to David Mell and Rich Goodman of Home Meridian and Howard Dell of Innovative Delivery.

It also honored Ashley with a video saluting the three generations of Wanek family members in attendance — Ron, Todd and Cameron — and presented an award to Chabad of Greensboro for its services to the furniture community during High Point markets.

The event drew attendance from about 150 supplier companies and about 75 retail companies, Renegade said.

“We set out to provide an outlet for our industry to a very much needed networking opportunity,” Krinsky said. “The success was beyond our expectations, and it is a testament to our great industry.”

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

Please feel free to email or call me with all of your retail news and tips, including expansion news, successful merchandising and marketing strategies and anything else you would like to see covered by Furniture/Today.  Contact me directly at cengel@furnituretoday.com or 336-605-1129.

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