Furniture Biz 101

Jim Green's blog

Uncommon Common Sense #5

September 19, 2011

I believe that ‘common sense' should be a large part of marketing furniture at retail. I have been posting examples of common sense marketing since my post of August 19 because I would like to cause the reader to think about whether his/her business uses common sense strategies and tactics. Sometimes, these common sense decisions may not be epic. But, they also may be the difference between achieving moderate and excellent success. If one disagrees with my viewpoints that is fine. At least I was able to inspire some reflection. This is Common Sense Example #5.

Common Sense Example #5 Merchandise Selections. As a merchant, this is a major sticking point with me. I have been on so many selling floors particularly in promotional retail showrooms and am underwhelmed by the sameness in some of the assortments. Not in all showrooms, of course, but in many. I suppose it is human nature to take the attitude that, "if it works, do it again"; but buyers need to use some common sense. Yes, earth tones will likely be the best seller...but every cover need not be an earth tone. Why? Because there are customers that would like to have color. Yes, Microfibers represent a high percentage of fabric upholstery sold. But, how many does a store need to offer a good selection. Bustle or Pub backs are popular style elements in promotional leather furniture. But, every leather sofa should not have one.

As a professional buyer, it is one's responsibility to create a selection of merchandise in the category with the broadest possible appeal to the demographic the store has identified while still offering enough of the best selling products at the price points in which the retailer competes. That is the job. It makes little sense to me to offer five tan, bustle back leather sofas at $1299, each with a little different arm treatment when one or two will do. It is overkill and something in the assortment will be shortchanged because of it. When a customer visits a furniture store he or she is expecting a selection; potential customers want to be able to make a choice; items he/she can say ‘no' to until the ‘perfect' choice is revealed. This is really the point: every SKU will not sell at the same rate as every other SKU in the category. One sofa selling at the rate of 4 per month may be performing well while another at 10 per month may be weak. But, in either case, there must be a varied enough selection for customers to make a choice. It is only makes common sense.

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