This article is designed for owners and managers of furniture stores that sell mattresses. Mattress Specialty retailers - you already know this information, and are welcome to read on too.
A couple of decades ago, multi-line furniture stores ruled the retail mattress world. Those stores were the #1 choice by consumers to shop and buy a mattress set. It’s a different landscape out there today. Mattress specialists, warehouse clubs, internet, and even people selling mattresses by advertising on telephone poles have reduced the share of bedding sales for full line stores. Furniture Retailers may never again be the dominant force, but can regain part of their share. The secret is-STOP being a furniture store that sells mattresses, and become a mattress destination.
There is an overwhelming majority of your shoppers that represent the greatest opportunity for you to increase your business. You can call them The 96 Percenters, because they are comprised of the 96% of people that shop in your retail store and walk out without buying a mattress. Every retail furniture store has a different value for the 96’ers. Do the math for your store, and you may be surprised! Think about a typical retail furniture location that converts 25% of their shoppers into buyers. If Bedding sales are 15% of total sales, then multiply 25% times 15% (.25 x.15 on your calculator). The net result is 3.75% (.0375) of shoppers buy a mattress, leaving more than 96% not buying one. Now both YOU and YOUR SHOPPER should be losing sleep!
While your team will never reduce the 96% to zero, there are some ways that you can reduce the number. First, examine the reasons shoppers are not buying beds in your store.
Five Reasons Shoppers Don’t Buy Your Beds
1. Most RSAs Are Reluctant to Introduce Bedding.
Sure, you coach your team to introduce bedding on every bedroom sale. But, does your team talk about your Sleep Department products with Dining, Living Room, and Recliner Shoppers? Statistics show that over 85% of people sleep on a substandard mattress resulting in a decrease in their daily performance and lifestyle and an increase in weight and other health issues. That translates to 85 out of 100 people walking into your store could benefit from the health benefits of a new sleep surface.
Train your team on the benefits of good sleep and the impact that a new sleep system can have on their shoppers’ lives. Remind them that most shoppers are not furniture buying experts and need guidance in learning about all that your store offers. And most of all don’t put up with, “They didn’t ask for one” as an acceptable response for not showing a mattress set to every shopper.
2.RSAs Limit Consumer Choice.
It’s a fact, despite comfort tests, product knowledge, sale promotions, and best options, many shoppers purchase the mattress that the RSA wants to sell them. Sometimes it’s because of price-high and low, other times it’s spiffs, and still other times, it’s because it’s the mattress that the RSA sleeps on. However, with 96% of your shoppers leaving without a mattress, you need to ensure that shoppers are shown ALL mattresses that suit their needs and comfort levels. Don’t let your team sink into the practice of not selling a brand that you display, and don’t let them become Whale-Hunters and only show multi-thousand dollar bedding. Every mattress model has a place on your floor, everything is for sale, and every sale counts.
3. The Be-Back Mattress Bus Will Not Return!
Most of what full line stores sell may be considered “Be-Back” merchandise; sofa and bedroom set shoppers often need to check color, size, and scale in their home before making a purchase. The mattress is a “Now-Today” purchase, meaning that if your shopper leaves your store without a mattress-they will buy one at your competitors TODAY. Don’t allow or encourage RSA prejudices to affect your sales. If you can’t get the $1499 mattress sale today, take the $799, $599, or even $399 sale before the guy down the street takes it. When it comes to the Be-Back Bus, remember that it stops at every store in town, and does not make a return trip!
4. Customers Aren’t Told That Each Mattress has TWO Prices.
My contacts at GE Money, a major player in furniture consumer financing, tell me that the average approval amount for new shoppers is $4400. Further, the average first time purchase totals $1400. Your RSA’s job is NOT to load up buyers with things they don’t need and can’t afford, however they are responsible for assessing shopper’s total needs, presenting products, and encouraging them to select what they want to buy today.
Many shoppers think of a new mattress as a commodity item, and are comfortable with utilizing Free Financing to pay for it, just like a washer and dryer or refrigerator. Think of a $1199 mattress and foundation as a $19.95 additional payment on a 60 month contract. Adding a basic $599 set costs less than ten bucks a month. When quoting the installment cost for that new Living Room or Dining Set, remind your buyers that for a small amount more they can upgrade their sleep, health and well-being. Furniture retailing veteran Gil Colon says that every mattress set has two prices, the cash price and the monthly installment cost. Make sure that your sales team knows both.
5. It’s in the back.
I can find the Bedding Department in almost any furniture store in the US. I simply walk in the front door and go to the back hidden corner. And when I get the Sunday newspaper and study furniture store circulars, I flip to the back page to see the mattress promotion. When you keep mattresses in the back of the store, and promotions on the back of the ad, the result is that it is Back of the Mind for your sales team, managers and shoppers.
6. Not Showing Value Up Front.
The upside of consumers viewing bedding products as a commodity is that shoppers know a (perceived) Hot Deal when they see it. Just as Wal-Mart or Target can make a value statement by promoting front page hot buys on coffee and cola, furniture stores can scream value by promoting hot buy bedding on Page One! Once in your building, shoppers make up their minds about your store within about 20 feet of the front door. Imagine how they would perceive your overall pricing if the first thing they saw was a triple-choice comfort promotion at $399 Queen. Although your shoppers may not have any interest in purchasing a mattress, when it comes to prices, they know that the store that starts out the lowest ends up the lowest.
8. Under Promoting The Category.
You’ll get out of it what you put into it. Floor space, signage, and advertising is an investment. It’s hard to get to 20% in Bedding Sales Volume when you spend 5% of your ad budget on standalone bedding advertising. Simple as it sounds, if you want 20% bedding share in sales, you need to give it a 20% share of the space in your advertising.
9. Failure To Show The Right Beds.
It’s possible to get 20% in sales when bedding is shown in 10% of your floor space, if you have the right beds. Ask your bedding vendors which models and technologies are selling well in your market, and adjust your selling space to that every 90 days. Be sure your beds and test pillows are clean enough that your mother would want to sleep on them. Cut pricing on clearance and shopworn merchandise to the bone, even 50% of cost, to move them out. Dead beds take up live selling space.
10. Not Visiting Your Neighbors Shop your neighbors, because they are already shopping you.
Know their offers, standards, practices, and their exceptions to the rules. Know how you are beating them, and how they beat you every single day.
11. Failure To Count. Lastly, measure results and set goals against your standards.
Coach your team to show and sell-every day. Knock out your two lowest selling SKUs every ninety days-and perhaps your lowest selling RSAs every 120 days.
Your store does not have to be a victim of shrinking bedding sales. Think and act like a mattress destination and reclaim your share.