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Mainstreet Delivery Presents Evolving Furniture Delivery Trends At Conference

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Maury Mussa, president and CEO of Mainstreet Delivery, presented a review of evolving trends in the furniture industry and furniture transportation and delivery at the annual conference of the International Furniture Transportation and Logistics Council (IFTLC), April 27, 2005 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Mainstreet Delivery is a newly formed delivery company that handles full service logistics for manufacturers, retailers, and print and electronic catalogers of furniture, appliances, electronic equipment and other large items that typically require specialized handling and on-site setup. Mussa has over 25 years experience in the logistics, transportation and home delivery industry. In his presentation Mussa outlined how shifts in consumer buying habits and the emergence of alternative furniture sales channels are changing the buying process for furniture and other larger home furnishings. Consumers now have numerous ways to spend their free time and no longer regard shopping as a social or recreational experience. They want to buy larger household goods in the simplest and quickest manner, and are increasingly turning to the expanding array of electronic and print furniture catalogers who ship direct to home. Sales of home furnishings via the internet increased by 41% from Christmas of 2003 to 2004, with the volume of furniture catalog sales increasing at a similar rate. Meanwhile, retail sales of consumer goods increased by only 0.3% in March 2005, and furniture retailers were especially soft. In response to the emerging competition furniture retailers are enhancing their services and becoming more sophisticated. They are striving to achieve a difficult conundrum; reducing merchandise lead times and in-store inventories, while offering a broader selection of product and increased delivery service. Sales of imported furniture were up 15% from 2003 to 2004, driven largely by domestic manufacturers acting as the intermediary, importing product and selling it through their existing retail channels. Foreign manufacturers are gaining the critical mass necessary to soon go direct to US retailers. Domestic manufacturers will counter by opening more retail locations; smaller stores dedicated to their brand, spread more densely throughout major metropolitan areas. The competitive positioning among regional and national channels will be good for the consumer, providing more choices and more convenience. In many instances, however, the boundaries of the traditional regional retail model no longer exist, and the need to deliver and install products anywhere in the country has emerged. This requires a vast network of multiple providers, and the most savvy furniture logistics and delivery companies are responding by establishing, or becoming part of, collaborative national distribution networks. Mainstreet Delivery and similar logistics companies can provide single-source national coverage, setting up and managing nationwide networks of full service providers. Additional services such as in-transit storage, inventory management and sophisticated order management systems will help retailers and foreign and domestic manufacturers and catalogers alike reduce lead times, manage inventory and simply become more nimble. “If IFTLC members and other full service carriers continue to elevate their services they will enhance the businesses of all furniture channel participants and the buying experience of the consumer,” said Mussa. “The need to have organizations to establish and manage vast national distribution networks provides an unprecedented opportunity for logistics companies, and was the inspiration in forming Mainstreet Delivery.”

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