101 Retailers Share Concerns for 2018
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This year's Las Vegas Winter Market was another huge success. As one of the biggest trade shows in the U.S. for the furniture, gift, home décor and design industries, it was exciting to hear what was top-of-mind for industry professionals this year.
In fact, TD Bank conducted a poll of 101 furniture retail executives to get a pulse on industry trends. In case you weren't able to join us in Vegas, here's a look at what the retailers shared.
- Business is booming: Most executives believe that furniture purchasing will increase in 2018. More than half (64 percent) of those polled anticipated sales growth, with a very small amount (5 percent) anticipating a decline. Positive sentiment towards sales in the coming year makes now a great time to consider how to improve customer experience. In speaking with retailers on-site, recent tax cuts have also influenced business confidence. Companies are feeling supported, and consumers have more to spend. Both can count on an increase in take-home pay or revenue due to tax cuts - all of these things play a strong role in retailers' optimism for the year ahead.
- Cost is the concern: When it comes to consumers main concern, retailers shared that price remains the driver of their customer's purchasing decisions. Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents said that cost is their customers' primary concern when purchasing furniture - far more so than other factors like easy assembly (1 percent) or speed of delivery (9 percent). Appearance and size came in at a close second with 34 percent of respondents citing this to be their customer's primary consideration when buying. Financing programs that are tailored to engage the cost-conscious consumer will be prudent for furniture retail executives going into 2018. Nearly half (45 percent) of those polled believe that customers' interest in financing options will increase as more innovative technology is implemented to make these plans easy and straightforward to use.
- Lookout for competition: How to best compete with the big names in online retail, like Amazon and Wayfair, is an ongoing debate for furniture retailers. To meet this rising challenge, 28 percent of retailers said they'll look to improve their in-store shopping experience to further differentiate their brands from e-commerce entities, ultimately driving customer's satisfaction with their shopping experience. Customer experience can mean many things -- more or better trained sales staff, seamless payments and financing offerings, a better designed retail floor, incorporating more technology into the stores, etc. - and we're seeing retailers of all levels implement these incremental changes to remain competitive. Improving inventory management and product selection (27 percent) ranked nearly as high. Both tactics are a great way to ensure that stores stand out against the looming presence of online, "on-demand" retailers.
- With growth comes: The industry's desire to innovate stood out at this year's Las Vegas Market, and our conversations with executives reflected the same desire. When we asked what trend will gain momentum in 2018, 42 percent of executives picked augmented reality (AR) and its potential to enhance the customer experience. This seems like a natural fit for the furniture industry - being able to "test drive" the look of a couch or table in the home before it's shipped could potentially be an industry-changing development. AR is very much in its early stages, but we will begin to see more of this as customer demand requires retailers to provide this technology and more progressive, modern customer experiences. Meanwhile, 30 percent also believe that "smart furniture," devices in the home connected to the growing "internet of things," will take off in 2018.
Furniture retailers looking to stay relevant in the year ahead are going to be challenged by an industry that seems to be shifting - in terms of consumer needs, competition and new technologies. But there's a clear desire from those behind these organizations to adopt new strategies that will keep customers engaged and happy.
More about TD Bank: TD Cards and Merchant Solutions is a top 10 card issuer in North America with over $24B in card receivables. TD Bank's credit cards are distributed nationally, leveraging our retail distribution network, direct response channels and through hundreds of partnership programs with financial institutions, retailers and other third party organizations, including private label financing. For more information on TD Bank's programs and services for home furnishings retailers, Click Here.