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Mike Root

Thinking Outside The Furniture Channel For More Sales...

November 19, 2013

We old line "furniture guys" traditionally look at our business as selling furniture to furniture stores or selling bedding to bedding stores. We are limited by our own personal biases as to where our product is positioned. But if you take just a minute to think outside of the box there are so many other wonderful channels we could sell our furniture.

This past six months I have had the good fortune to work with a company that has allowed me to be somewhat of a maverick. They gave me a territory to sell their product but then when I offered other alternative channels, they did not say "no".

This particular company is COZZIA Massage chairs. But for purposes of this column just substitute your own line and envision how it can be positioned in other channels besides furniture retail stores.

It's easy to see how massage chairs should be sold to furniture stores, and we are doing great in that channel. That's where guys like us who deal with furniture stores would expect to find them. But what about in electronic, TV and video stores? Isn't a massage chair an integral part of the entire home theater experience? We went to an electronics specialty show and proved there was a market.

Or what about a pool and spa guy who is used to selling $10,000 plus jacuzzis? Wouldn't he be very comfortable selling a $4000 - $5000 massage chair? Of course he would and we have a sales rep in that channel that is doing gangbusters. In fact I just returned from the annual pool, spa and patio show devoted entirely to that industry much like High Point and Vegas are devoted to the furniture industry. Who knew this was a billion dollar industry? (Next time I will compare their trade show to ours so stay tuned).

We are having a great time selling COZZIA massage chairs because they are willing to let us think outside the box in finding new dealers.

But we are not the only ones thinking outside of the furniture channel. In looking in the classified ads of Inc. magazine (yes, for you my loyal reader I actually read the classifieds), I discovered that a company called Ideal Furniture has a franchise you can buy. They claim you can undercut your local "discount" store and they reference Ashley Furniture in their ad. It looks to me to be one more distribution channel Ashley has figured out that the rest of us are left scratching our heads in wonderment.

As you follow up with market leads figure out how you can sell Pier 1, TG Max, Marshalls, and any number of non-traditional furniture retailers. Retailers of all stripes are looking for easy ways to expand their footprint with a related product that appeals to their best customer. It might as well be a piece of furniture that you or I sell them.

As always, your positive contributions are always appreciated below. Good selling!