Editor’s Corner: Nothing New Under the Sun

The happiest man in the world

In recent years, the furniture industry has seen many ideas and styles recycled. We’ve seen a resurgence of mid-century modern and, more recently, a trend toward a floral, country-influenced aesthetic now known as cottagecore. Maximalism and minimalism in design are fashionable at the same time. And traditionally-influenced furniture styles are making a comeback. People have started to embrace their grandparents’ used furniture again as home decor gems instead of putting it on the sidewalk. What’s old has been made new, often with a new twist.

Much like reclaiming grandma’s vintage couch in a cool new fabric, our industry continues to expand retail’s time-tested ideal of providing good old-fashioned customer service. Now it has been renamed and updated as “Customer Experience Management”. Spurred by companies like Amazon, new ideas about store design and technological advancements are enabling furniture stores to compete by finding new ways to keep customers engaged and satisfied, removing barriers to improved sales and growth.

Readers of Furniture World who want to further improve the customer experience in their stores will find the March/April 2022 issue a great resource.

Jennifer Magee’s article, “Design for Customer Service,” looks at different ways retailers can use store design and technology to help customers feel comfortable and cared for the moment they walk into in-store environments. Innovative store design is one of the best ways to reduce the anxiety and frustration found in many shopping experiences.

David McMahon discusses how retail automation for pre-sales and open sales opportunities can make it easier for buyers to buy home furnishings and trigger various follow-up strategies to ensure questions and requests do not slip through the cracks. Automation can also improve customer access to information, from the first contact to the after-sales service experience.

For this issue, we interviewed Brian Morgan, a founding partner of Texas-based retailer Couch Potatoes, who explained why a cold beer goes a long way in setting the stage for a good customer experience. The Couch Potatoes store is a case study in how cultivating a store-wide attitude of caring can make a big difference in people’s lives and their experience of a store’s brand.

Finally, sales educator Scott Morris’ article, “Closing Moxie” provides perspective on the skill of closing. Some sales techniques are now considered manipulative. But, when used correctly, these tools improve the customer experience by breaking down the anxiety and indecision that customers bring with them into stores and helping customers make the best purchasing decision possible.

Russell Bienenstock is editor of Furniture World Magazine, founded in 1870. Comments can be directed to him at [email protected]

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