A 4-step furniture store survival guide
The first half of 2017 is in the books, and for many it continues to be a struggle. Almost every week there’s another story about a second, third, fourth-generation family business throwing in the towel. It’s not all gloom and doom however, as a few innovative, forward-looking operators are uncovering new ways into the future.
If you’d like to join them, here are four things to consider:
1. Escape the commodity trap
Unless you’re the low-cost provider, making price the focal point of your selling proposition is no longer sustainable. Treating furniture like any other commodity only works in an environment where consumer choice is limited to a localized media market. When a google search for “tan sofa” returns 51.3 million results in less time than it takes to blink, a 50-mile radius for an “exclusive” on someone’s XYZ sofa is largely irrelevant as there will always be a lower price out there.
2. Focus on what you do better than anyone else
If your store is not demonstrably, head-and- shoulders better than all comers in at least one meaningful attribute, then the wave of consolidation is coming for you. Find that key differential advantage — not good customer service but GREAT customer service; not nice display but INSPIRATIONAL presentation — and leverage it. If you asked your 100 best customers what one word best describes your store and 80% don’t say the same thing, then you’re not executing and communicating what you stand for.
3. It’s not furniture; it’s fulfillment
If all you’re selling is a piece of furniture, then people will only buy when a need arises. If instead you’re selling the promise of dreams fulfilled, a life well-lived and a warm inviting home, you’re delivering an entirely different experience. Family life revolves around furniture, homework at the kitchen table, pillow fights on the bed, a stolen first kiss on the sofa. Yet it is very rare for furniture pictures on websites, in ads, even on television to include people. Even so-called lifestyle stores often miss this opportunity. Why not give it a try? If you’re already doing it, you’re ahead of the pack.
4. Your store is not your disadvantage
But the way you utilize it might be. At a time when even Amazon recognizes the value of brick and mortar, the store’s role is changing. Think carefully about what would make people carve time from their busy lives to enter your store and spend time there. If you think it’s to shop, think some more.
What would make the experience so magical, so inspiring they would run home and eagerly tell friends and family about it? Now deliver that.