Hello Donna, I can't speak for the other publications, but at Furniture World, we try not to tell our readers what they already know about the realities of retailing today. Many of the items in your list speak to the "worst nature" of suppliers, finance companies, the competition and customers. There are some retailers out there, however, who take these conditions and find solutions to the problems you are thinking about. Believe it or not, I have spoken to furniture retailers who are excited about doing business, like their suppliers, employees and customers.
So, here is what we try to do at FURNITURE WORLD. We assume that our readers already know about the difficult realities of retail and explain how they might do a better job of adapting their independent retail operations by applying the concrete tips and techniques we present. Just take a look at this October's issue. There's a great article by David McMahon about how to boost margins even if your competition is giving some product away. We complete Larry Mullins' three part series on how to identify which customers are motivated by price and fear and which ones can be sold by approaching them in other ways. Rene Gingrich's second article on building a team of retail sales experts gives lots of practical ideas on how to motivate and educate sales associates. Florian Volmer presents a new way to look at how retailers can change a customer's experience by considering touchpoint analysis.
And, if you check the article archives on www.furninfo.com you will see articles on how to discourage emplyee theft... how to get control of your sales force, hire better salespeople (there's an 8-part series), how to build your own brand through smarter advertising and promotions. There are over 1,000 articles on every retail topic imaginable, directed at the 17,500 retail furniture store readers of Furniture World, a large proportion of which are independent dealers.
Of course, there is just so much a publication can do. You seem to be having lots of dark thoughts. Have you ever thought of bringing in a consultant? There are a couple of them I could recommend who make their living addressing the issues you write about. And, they don't just deal with retail profitability. They also look at ways to make retail more fulfilling and pleasant for owners. You can reach me at 914-235-3095 if you need more information. -Russell
I can fully understand you, also I think the things maybe get worse. as others are changing the business model.
You must cut your cost so you should get the direct sourcing from China, where export to the worldwide. also you should cut the warehouse cost, and the cash cost.If you have those cost, you cannot compete with the big guy.
we are a furniture wholesale company in China.we are focus on the small business. we provide the service the independent retailers.
If you want to have more details, you can contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
I think you hit just about every one of the constant frustrations for any independent retailer. I too feel everyday the customers are getting cheaper, tax season seems to get shorter and it seems as though our competitors are willing to sell their merchandise at a lose, if it means they'll get customers in the door.
For me personally, I take inspiration in the independants who have overcome all of the difficulties you described and seen wild success. Case in point, Mattress Mack of Gallery Furniture (who I'm sure you've heard of) in Houston. Mack actually started out selling furniture in your area, and is now a top 100 retailer and the largest independent retailer in America, and he started with just his wife and $5,000.
At our store, we have a saying, "If your not growing, your dying" you can't win the battle against the big boxes on price and financing options alone, you have to do more to set yourself apart from the pack. We try and do this by having events, not just sales at our store. We'll rent moonwalks, camels, dunking booths, have local radio stations broadcast live, etc. And we do it all under the banner of a particular sale we have going on and....IT WORKS! Not one of our competitors is doing anything like it. Our last event saw over 300+ people on a day when we normally average 20-30. The whole idea isn't just to make more sales, it's to generate a buzz about your store, and keep you relevant and fresh in their minds, when they do need furniture.
Anyway, that's just my two sense take it with a grain of salt. I hope things do look up for you, it sounds like y'all are having a tough time. All the best.
Hello, Donna, my husband and I worked for an importer sourcing from Asia for about 10 years. I understand that it's really hard for the independent retailer to compete with the big ones who can cut out as many middle men as possible. if you would like to know the direct sourcing, please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com
Hello Donna. It looks like you are having a very tough time. In my opinion, you are not alone in having some of these difficulties. However, in the world of independent furniture retailers, there are many that love their businesses, enjoy working with their salespeople, respect most of their customers and are not so "down" on the industry. I speak to retailers who love their businesses all the time.
I see from your website that you seem to be competing with the big guys primarily on price and credit and that can be especially tough. But I have to believe that there is a way to re-imagine your business model so that you can make things much better. I am not an industry consultant, and don't pretend to have ever been in your shoes. On the other hand, it seems plain that you are need to concentrate on your core business model, what you really offer customers, your USP, and how you hire and manage, and instill core values in your people. Perhaps you can change the internal dynamic of how your store and salespeople interact with customers, employees and the community.
You can worry about all the things in our industry that can't be changed, but you will lose lots of sleep. And, perhaps not all of these questions you asked are valuable to the transformation of your business... if that is your goal.
Are you a member of a buying group? Have you ever thought of speaking to one of the excellent consulting groups that hang out in the Retail Resouce Center at the Vegas and High Point shows? Do you belong to a group like the HFIA? I think that Mary Frye there would be interesting to speak to ((214) 741-7632).
I hope you have a good day at retail today.
FURNITURE WORLD Magazine