The Evolving Business of Doing Business
Thomas Lester -- Home Accents Today, 9/1/2013 2:00:00 AM
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Kirkland said a number of manufacturers incorporate minimum advertised price policies in order to curtail price wars among retailers, which helps smaller merchants compete. A user-friendly website for the smaller store, with competitive pricing and easy-to-use purchasing tools might help cut down on the practice of "showrooming," or the practice of buyers visiting stores to see pieces in person that they then purchase online from larger retailers.
"They might want to see it in the store and if they don't make a decision, they want to be able to go home and at 9:30, once they've thought about buy it," Kirkland said.
Websites, apps and suggestions help in telling a product story, but what about helping the end consumer visualize the product in her home?
At the unveiling of Furnitureland South's new 17,000-sq.-ft. Design Center in its Jamestown, N.C., home, Jason Harris, executive vice president, said the impetus to do so was partly based on the belief that apps are rapidly replacing catalogs as the medium of choice for delivering product images.
"We don't need printed catalogs anymore. I can't say that for my colleagues, but I was doing the math and I was talking to Josh Piersall (vice president of sales and marketing) of Huntington House (about) what they spend on catalogs every year. He said probably around $300,000 to $500,000. That's one company," Harris said. "If that's the average for a Top 100 company, that's $30 million a year that our biggest companies are investing in catalogs. We would rather use the trees for furniture, not catalogs."
Harris said with mobile applications on an Apple platform, design consultants can better display images on plasma TVs in the design center to help move the process along.
"We're huge proponents of technology at Furnitureland South. That's evident in this Design Center. We have 22 television screens in the new Design Center, two of which are 80 inches and are constantly playing videos from our brands and from Furnitureland South," Harris said. "The other 20 are at the peninsula workstations and every one of them has an Apple TV device connected to it. That allows us, with an iPhone or an iPad - instead of everyone crowding around a small screen or a printed catalog - we can stream and mirror images to the larger screen."
Harris said Furnitureland South's stated mission is to create a world class shopping experience for customers. He said incorporating technology helps foster the creativity that nurtures the mission.
"We wanted to leverage technology. This is the point of impact for our business, for our sales. This is where big money decisions are made," he said. "We wanted to hav e a great environment that could foster that decision-making process and enable creativity."
Brandsource has recently partnered with Classic Home Furnishings, Legends Furniture and Rizzy Home in order to appeal to younger consumers.
It offers a free mobile app that will showcase the new home furnishings, allowing shoppers to plan ahead and/or search any time and filter by price, manufacturer, color, depth, width and height. Information and photos can be shared with friends and family via email, Twitter or Facebook as they furnish their homes.
Whereoware's Spotlight application takes advantage of advances in tablet technology. "We saw the tablet, the iPad, in particular, as a game-changer," Dean said. "It's a 10-inch, high-resolution window to pass information and help interaction between a salesperson and customer. We now have a designer element in that to help designers work with their customers."
Dean said the ability to customize presentations with a drag or a click makes tablets indispensable tools in finalizing sales.
"We wanted to get the right product in front of the right person at the right time. We wanted to make it easier for the people on the front line, salespeople and designers, to take information and create presentations to further the business. The new, high-resolution screens only make it better," Dean said. "Better preparation leads to a better presentation. A better presentation leads to more sales. You're adjusting to questions and can follow up in real time. How do we improve the core interaction? We saw this was a unique tool and we've been developing Spotlight to make that customer experience really sing."
Chris Harrison, chairman and CEO of Christopher Guy, said he noticed a void in technology as it pertained to the interior design industry, so he decided to do something about it with one basic question in mind.
"When it comes down to the website, the way I designed it was ‘What do I need? How do I make something simple and invaluable to have?'" Harrison said.
Thanks for including Brandwise in this article! This is a great topic to address and I'm sure many sales reps will find this valuable! In fact, I would love to hear what sales reps have to say about compensating for the lack of one-on-one time.Brianne Houck - 2013-09-30 15:27:03 EDT
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