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From Home Furnishing Business

New Software Allows Improved Evaluation of Product Intros

Software provider Clarity Web Solutions has developed a software program that allows manufacturers to better project which products will remain in the line following a furniture market.

Called the Walkthrough Tool, the program makes it easier for exhibitors to decide what to cut and what to eliminate from their product introductions at each show, said Doug Cottrell, founder and president of Clarity.

“The Walkthrough Tool was specifically designed for furniture companies to be used during Market to help exhibitors make the most of those five vital days,” Cottrell said. “The obvious winners and losers are easy.  It is the ones in the middle that are tough to predict.”

He said the tool uses a simple interface, but has complicated algorithms and statistical tools to improve accuracy. Sales reps simply tap a screen (usually an iPad) to document several buying signals as the retail customer walks through the showroom. It can note which styles the retailer liked and disliked, and record preset positive or negative comments on each piece.

He said the tool is especially useful now that fewer orders are written at market.

“Sometimes the actual market orders don’t come in for weeks. But to meet delivery promises, decision need to be made and orders need to be placed with vendors by the end of market,” Cottrell said. “This tool helps make merchandising decisions before all of the orders are received.”

He said high-end producer Vanguard Furniture has successfully tested the product at the past four High Point Markets, and it will be rollout to Chaddock at next week’s Market.

“In the past, evaluating the success of market was a nightmare: papers all over the table, and tired reps wracking their brains trying to remember who said what,” said Mark Hadley, Vanguard’s national sales manager. “With the Walkthrough Tool, we can easily see what is happening at Market each evening, and adjust.  We have seen dramatically more efficient post-market ordering and dealer follow-up.”

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