THE FURNITURE WARS - HOW AMERICA LOST A $50BN INDUSTRY -
I wanted to share my thoughts on;Additional Goals/Objectives Manufacturer Brands, Retailers & Sales Reps Can Accomplish At The High Point Furniture Market.
My Thoughts About The Book & Why It's Relevant Still Today.
A VERY good friend of mine gave me this book for Christmas. I read it on the plane traveling to the Vegas Market last January 2016 and I was dumbfounded on what I learned from the history of our industry and how much of the lessons learned back then, have not been embraced today...
THE DIFFERENCE NOW IS, THE "OUTSIDERS" BACK THEN FAILED MISERABLY IN TRYING TO TRANSFORM OUR INDUSTRY.
BUT NOW, IT IS THE "INSIDERS" THAT ARE STIFLING THE CHANGES THAT ARE NECESSARY TO ADAPT TO "TODAY'S CONSUMERS", THUS ERODING OUR INDUSTRY EVEN MORE?
Yep, history is repeating itself, it's the degree of sophistication that has changed, which will continue to erode this category, and we stand to lose $billions more, very quickly.
in my opinion, we are repeating those mistakes today, but as INSIDERS...not OUTSIDERS like the book explained and outlined.
As I mentioned above, history too often repeats itself, usually masked in the degree of sophistication as to how it repeats itself, by committing the same stupid mistakes, with different rationale, excuses, or just plain ignorance or arrogance of the facts for whatever reason.
We are facing the "commoditization of everything" in this industry, no brands, limited content for consumers to search/find on retailers & brand websites, messaging that focuses on price and "cheap" and the blatant rejection of new technologies and consumer buying trends in creating sales velocity. These rejections, or refusal to even listen and learn new ways of doing business is mainly because these NEW companies or thought leaders are not "insiders" and are labeled as "outsiders" that "Don't understand "our "business".
These rejections, or refusal to even listen, and learn new ways of doing business, is mainly because these NEW companies or thought leaders, are not "insiders"and are labeled as "outsiders" that Don't Understand "our business".....so we don't even acknowledge they exist or rarely entertain the idea of even "listening" to what they may have to help us sell more.
THINK ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENNING IN RETAIL
Yet many continue to ignore or refuse to adopt the means as to HOW THESE CONSUMERS WANT TO BE ENGAGED?
Why is it...?
- We STILL ignore the investments necessary to attract consumers with a decent website loaded with thousands of SKU's....when the FACTS show over 80% of people searching for furniture START ON THE INTERNET and over 76% of them are looking for product information on YOUR WEBSITE. AND over 75% of consumers will check your website out when they see an ad for your company. $699/mth is too expensive...REALLY ??? I suppose that remaining 20% of consumers that may not use the website are making your business rock, right...I bet NOT.
- Amazon has 5.5MM pages of furniture SKU's, Wayfair has 35,000,000 pages, do I need to mention others like OverStock, etc? Get the message...SHOW MORE...SELL MORE
- We ignore putting every SKU we have open to buy on our website, because "We don't want to do Special Order"...even though EVERY on-line retailer's purchase IS A SPECIAL ORDER"!
- We ignore the need to have a website MOBILE RESPONSIVE, when it's a fact that over 200 million consumers have Smartphones and tablets...and guess what...they aren't making a ton of phone calls, they are surfing the internet, interacting with websites, watching videos, reading reviews and maybe/hopefully they are spying on your store?
- We ignore putting prices or having e-commerce on our websites, even though MasterCard & The Wall Street Journal reported holiday sales of furniture grew HUGE double digits and that it's predicted by 2020, 32% of ALL furniture purchases will be on-line
- We ignore new ways to show, tell and sell our products using new and innovative technologies, instead we spend huge money on product photography room set shots and outdated printed catalogs that costs millions....that consumers rarely if ever see/use because they are embracing digital, when we still embrace the 90's way of doing business. Yep, we insiders ignore the outsiders, even though those outsider's technologies have PROVEN to increase sales velocity in a multiple of industries.
WE ARE COMMODITIZING EVERYTHING AND QUICKLY EXPERIENCING THE "WALMARTIZATION" OF OUR INDUSTRY.
The result, the "non-players go...bye-bye" because they don't have any retailers...Mom & Pops to sell to because they refuse to help them embrace "the new consumer" and what THEY WANT.
And for those that do get to play, what happens? They become totally reliant on those few retailers that buy from them, and then those retailers force them to drive down their selling price, so they can sell more at cheaper prices to where a decent profit becomes difficult, or non-existent.
Then they either fail, or re-structure, to try and sell "more retailers", and that's probably the Mom & Pops they ignored....How much will that cost?
That's the Wal-Mart effect. I know it, I worked for a company that failed because of that "sell the big boys only" strategy, and that's exactly what I warned them would happen...and it did!
WHY IS IT we are failing YOU ASK?
Because it wasn't invented HERE...I mean all of these new ideas, way to show, tell and sell our products, new strategies and tactics and the technologies are coming from outsiders...
"DON'T UNDERSTAND OUR BUSINESS".
When you go to market as a retailer, here are a couple ideas to think about:
After you buy all that new product to place on your floor, what's your plan/strategy for sales velocity? Implementing the same thing that has worked, or hasn't worked? Discount everything, maybe sell it even cheaper than before to keep traffic up...damn the profits though, warehouse sales, and the same old stuff ... Leprechauns for St Paddy's day, a flag for Memorial Day, etc....you get it, right?
Or do you just know everything and the outsider's ideas/approach would be a waste of time? Maybe you tried new technology "once" and it didn't work and because of that you've given up on "new" ideas and your comfortable the way you've been doing business for that last...10...20 years?? To me, when you get comfortable, you WILL get ambushed, it's not a question of if ... it's a question of when. I know, I've been ambushed several times in my career, that's why I try to help with these insights and my RANTS because maybe I can help you to not make the mistakes I have, or have witnessed with some past employers!
ou can do this by searching those companies out BEFORE the market, asking them if they'll be at market and maybe schedule a meet with them for a few minutes over coffee, lunch etc, and share some goals, ideas and more.
IT NEVER HURTS TO LISTEN, AND YOU MAY LEARN SOMETHING OR UNCOVER A NEW IDEA TO EMBRACE.
- How they are different,
- What do they have that's NEW & EXCITING,
- How they can increase sales velocity for your store, etc.
- Challenge them with a constraint you have and ask them how'd they approach a solution?
AS A BRAND.....
Maybe the head Marketing & Sales person should also seek out new companies and ways to get their products in front of consumers...
You know...in the NOT SO NEW digital world ... and help their retailers sell more. Better ways to standardize products so retailers and your brand can market them everywhere, the web, social media and
more....making it EASY for your customers...retailers and consumers to find you, learn about you and where they can buy your stuff.
You too should seek out new and innovative suppliers and technologies to engage those 126MM+ shoppers who spend 80% of their time online...searching, engaging and shopping.
I know you're there to sell your product, but as I always RANT, once it's sold and on the retailer's floor...
YOU ARE AT RISK OF CREATING FLOOR INVENTORY FOR THAT RETAILER WITHOUT A PLAN TO CREATE/SUPPORT VELOCITY...
As Steve Jobs coined Apple's iconic phrase
"MAYBE RATHER THAN TRYING TO THINK YOURSELF INTO ACTING DIFFERENT,
START ACTING YOUR WAY INTO THINKING DIFFERENT" And stop the insanity of our industry of losing more brands and retailers.
Just a thought...Maybe we can add a few objectives to why we attend this market?
about bill napier
Bill Napier is Managing Partner of Napier Marketing Group.
He has been the chief marketing officer of several small, medium and large companies throughout his career, most notably Ashley Furniture Industries Inc from 2000-2005.
Currently he is a strategic management and marketing consultant to
Englander Mattress and several other companies in the home furnishing industry.
Bill is also a featured writer and speaker in the retail industry. His vast understanding of the issues retailers and brands face to compete in the digital arena, coupled with his humorous interpretation of his knowledge of trends, facts and solutions for helping companies compete, makes for an engaging and informative session for every brand or retailer that attends his sessions.
His passion is to help retail brands & brick mortar retailers grow their business by creating, guiding and deploying successful marketing B2B/B2C solutions integrating traditional marketing with the web/social media.
"Bill Napier is also known to many of the RetailerNOW Magazine readers as the man who likes to “Rant” and we think that is a good thing…
Sharing frustrations as well as common sense solutions has been his M.O. for years.
Delivering the goods each and every time he writes or speaks at our National Conferences, Bill says what he means and means what he says."
The RetailerNow Editorial Staff