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From Home Furnishing Business

Editor's Letter: A Cure for Declining Traffic

For most traditional furniture retailers, the most pressing problem is the lack of traffic. Twenty years ago, retailers knew that the consumer was committed to competitive shopping to find the perfect sofa at a great price. Time was not the constraint in that two household incomes were not the norm. And the once in seven year opportunity to decorate was a process to be savored. Retailers enjoyed great traffic with close rates in the mid-twenties with more competitive margins.

Flash forward—today the consumer is time strapped and relies on the Internet to make the buying process more efficient. Today, two stores shopped is the norm and, according to recent research, competitive shopping is not as important. To summarize recent research, the consumer indicated, “I go to the internet to select the stores I want to shop. I put them in rank order as to selection, price, and expected retail experience. If the first store is as presented on their website, I purchase. It is almost like a dating website—no need to over sell. Sooner or later, you must have that first date.”

Never before have retailers had the assurance that for 72% of furniture purchases they will have the opportunity to make a presentation.

The opportunity is there to impress. However, the industry must move beyond a catalog of products and present their unique selling proposition.

Many exciting things are happening to engage the consumer before they make their decision to shop. Unfortunately, many of these exciting things are happening with other retail channels pursuing the consumer purchase.

Let’s go industry: make the consumers ours again!

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