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Drive-Thru Furniture?

Furniture World Magazine
Volume 150 NO.2 March/April


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Outside of our industry retailers have developed multi-lane pickup and also drive- thru areas for customers to collect their purchases same day.

Brick and mortar furniture retailers have worked hard over the past few years to create unique in-store customer experiences. That's because building strong relationships through carefully curated in-store shopping has become essential for retailers who need to differentiate their offerings from fast-growing online-only retailers.

Social Distancing

More recently, that has changed. Consumers want to keep their distance from you. Yet, they still need to replace worn-out furniture and mattresses. There's demand right now for home office furnishings to make working from home more comfortable and efficient. And, parents are searching for ways to adapt their spaces for kids who never leave the house.

Furniture retailers are, therefore, now looking for ways to sell their products while minimizing face-to-face selling time. Many are doubling down on ecommerce solutions already in place, adding chat and looking for new ideas to facilitate a remote sales process.

Let's put aside for now the challenges of selling remotely and focus on the delivery angle.

Delivery Solutions

How can customers still get the things they need quickly and efficiently without waiting in for delivery services they fear might put their health at risk?

Right now we are seeing furniture retailers advertise curb-side delivery, promoted alongside white glove options. And in regions where most shoppers have access to pick-up trucks, retailers already have customer pick up areas.

Outside of our industry retailers have developed multi-lane pickup and drive-thru areas for customers to collect their purchases same day. Is such a solution in the furniture and bedding industry possible and promotable, especially right now? I think so, but there will be challenges.

Burger King Drive-Thru

Years ago, I designed one of the first drive-thru fast food stores for Burger King.

After putting a pass-through window into the kitchen, I set up a video camera to see how it worked and drove through while making a video of the customer experience. It was a DISASTER!

Many other challenges had to be worked out. Now 75 percent of their sales come from drive-through!

What About Our Industry?

Could the time spent to create this new form of furniture drive-thru in areas of the country where every second vehicle is a pick-up truck be feasible? Is it time for "click and collect"? I'm a big fan of drive-thru food, drive-thru banking, drive-thru pharmacies and drive-thru voting. Why not furniture?

Conclusion

No matter what you think about a drive-thru pick up for furniture stores to achieve social distancing, retailers need to adapt to consumers' needs for obtaining purchased items almost instantly. This innovation came to many other businesses decades ago, and it's time for us to take a serious look.


About Martin Roberts: Martin Roberts is an internationally known designer and the President of Martin Roberts Design, LLC, an award-winning team of retail consultants, architects, industrial, interior and graphic designers. Martin Roberts Design has been a leading influence in guiding the home industry’s visual merchandising, branding and re-branding concepts for which their expertise has placed them at the forefront of the retail design industry. Over the past 50 years Martin has worked worldwide for many of the best-known brands from Cartier to Wal-Mart. Martin Roberts Design employs an integrated design approach to developing and executing brand-focused retail solutions that meets the needs and goals of the individual client DNA. Questions can be directed to him at martin@mrobertsdesign.com or call 212-365-4809.
Read other articles by Martin Roberts