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From Home Furnishing Business

Editors Letter: Doesn’t Anyone Get Married Anymore?

By Bob George,

No, I am not trying to start an argument with my grandchildren, but just trying to understand the lack of commitment in today’s marketplace and specifically the furniture market at retail. The furniture market at wholesale is a totally different discussion.

Many of my discussions with retailers are around the lack of traffic and resulting lack of customers. There is a search for the best way to advertise, best way to present the merchandise, best selection, and best on and on. Are we making it too complicated? What happened to the times when you sold Mr. and Mrs. Consumer just like you sold their parents and sometimes their parents? What caused this commitment to purchase?

I realize that as the industry moved from mom & pop stores with the owner at the front door to multiple stores with professional sales managers there had to be a loss of that connection. We have lost the merchant class that prided themselves on maintaining that relationship.

In presentations, social media is touted as opening up communications connecting the world, but what about the furniture retailer and their customers?

But back to my discussions with retailers—the first step is to simplify the discussion. For example, let’s take Virginia Beach. How many households? 650,000. What price points do you sell? Upper/Premium. Primary customers? 35-65+ / $75-250k = 195,000 households. What psychographic clusters (lifestyles) have you best attracted? About 80,000? How many of them are your customers? Do you sell at least every eight quarters? 16,000. Now, how do you touch everyone of these consumers, 3x per year—without “selling” them—to remind them that you can assist them in creating a beautiful home? It’s fairly easy to get down to one on one, isn’t it?

Why bother? Simply put, this consumer household represents a revenue stream of $45,000 over their lifetime. For every $1.0m in revenue, you need 1,000 customers that consistently buy from you. The following are the statistics.

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