Be Choosy With the Company You Keep
When you were a teenager, your mom probably advised you at one point that, "You are judged by the company you keep." Your rebellious friends with questionable character who "fractured" a few rules from time to time were the wrong crowd to associate with if you wanted to succeed in life. She was right then, and the same message applies today with your company. So why are manufacturers allowing their brands to be taken down by association with questionable websites and poor business practices?
In light of the struggles home décor and furniture manufacturers have faced in the last several years, many are doing whatever they can to survive - including the formation of partnerships with low-quality retailing websites. It's got to stop.
Quality furniture brands are now promoted and sold on cheap, mass-populated eTailing websites that provide faulty customer service with a Wal-Mart feel. Years ago, these websites never would have qualified for the authorization to promote such brands. However, due to their desperate state, manufacturers are willing to compromise on the quality of the retail outlets for their products if only to stay afloat with the extra sales.
Manufacturers must step up and take responsibility to maintain the integrity of their brands. If you allow sub-par retailing websites to promote and sell your products, you're devaluing the worth or your brand. Instead of the unique, high-caliber impression your products used to make (because you spent years building that brand image), customers shopping online experience your products in a way that's little better than shopping at Wal-Mart. Is that really worth the few extra sales?
It is a good thing that manufacturers are getting their products online - that is definitely a requirement in our rapidly changing marketplace. However, they must be selective about the retailing partners they choose in order to maintain the credibility and value of their brand.
There are plenty of high-end home décor e-commerce websites out there, partners that can promote the excellence and quality of your products and brand image. I may be biased in claiming that Pure Home is the best one out there because it pulls in your brick-and-mortar retail partners too, but One King's Lane is another good one. Soon enough, the large shelter magazines will have their own online commerce experiences to help get your value out to the market.
It's time to get picky with our partners. So let's get out there online, but do so with partnerships that sustain your brand's value and bring a quality experience to our customers.
Designer Christi Barbour on her 'anything is possible' work philosophy