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From Home Furnishing Business

The Last 45 Minutes

By Bob George

In the last year, there has been much discussion about the “last mile,” the delivery of product to the consumer. As the major e-commerce players have used free delivery as a differentiator, the traditional industry has had to respond.  But this letter is not about delivery, but what happens in that 30-45 minutes between the sales associate greeting and the close before the delivery.

Obviously, it is important that we close the sale with fewer shoppers coming in and the need to achieve that 35% close rate.  The pressure is on.

The question is what did we sell the customer?  The focus of this month’s magazine is merchandising, the process in which we create the product that entices the consumer to move from a utilitarian purchase to an aspirational purchase.  We are confident that the talent exists on the supply side to accomplish that task.

However, creating the product is only the first step in the process.  The sales associates must close the sale.  This raises an interesting question – What do we sell the consumer?  The answer is not, “Whatever they will buy.”

Impact Consulting has just completed an interesting study focused on the age and income of the consumer who purchases specific price points by major product category.  The study covered 500M+ transactions that represented $1.2b in sales from a national sample of traditional furniture retailers.

We naturally assume that the more affluent consumers purchase higher price point products. This was indeed the case 10-15 years ago.  However, much has changed, especially since the Great Recession.  The matrix above presents the percentage of purchasers by age/income for a stationary/fabric sofa at the $400 to $499 price point.  As can be seen from the graphic, over 27% of this price point was purchased by consumers with household incomes over $100K.  Must be a lot of basement playrooms!

Scary isn’t it?  We obviously are not conveying value to the consumer or the consumer does not perceive value.  How do we break the commodity cycle?  More interesting findings in later issues.

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