Retail Observer

July 2021

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 53 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM JULY 2021 54 I recently read an ad that urged consumers to order now if they plan on hosting Thanksgiving dinner this coming November. I don't know about you, but with all the turmoil around us, how can anyone make a decision about dinner this evening, let alone late fall? What a wild world we are living in! The focus and timelines that retailers must use today are different than ever before. One of the things I loved about retailing was the cyclical nature of the business. You'd go to a few markets, you'd have your holiday and promotional calendars, and you'd spend time reviewing product, promotions and staffing to build a profitable livelihood for your family and your team. And as much as there is still some of the predictability of a calendar, there is little control over the product and personnel side of the equation. And that's what makes this environment so difficult for retailers. When the levers we can pull to adjust to the circumstances become too many and too complicated, it's not as much fun and a lot more worrisome. It's similar to driving a car: My dad taught me to keep my eyes far down the road. Keep too short a focus and your corrections will be drastic and sudden. These were also some of the lessons learned from the vendors that participated in BrandSource's Furniture Channel during the buying group's Spring Summit. From Mike Campbell at Leather Italia we learned the importance of focus as he built a company that stemmed from his unique expertise in the leather tanning process. And Rick Coppola at Ashley Furniture and Larry Furiani from Coaster both spoke about the role of digital marketing in commanding a market presence, and the need to quickly change strategies to match a changing consumer. Despite the difficult environment we saw in the first half of 2021, we predict a brighter horizon ahead. Containers are being unloaded, foam will reach projected levels and demand will come back in line. Manufacturers will shorten lead times as the backlogs are cleared and some aspects of predictability will return to the business. But be certain of one thing: business has changed. How will you adjust to the new customer demographics? What new products will customers be asking for? How about service expectations – what are you doing to take care of the customer that bought from you online or via web chat for the first time? Will your company work toward a better digital effort? The biggest question you need to ask yourself is, how have you spent this time to freshen up your store to match your company's online experience? Think about it: thousands more customers have seen your website this past year than have visited your store. Their expectations are probably closer to your digital store than your physical one. Amid all the uncertainties of doing business in 2021, there is one thing you can be sure of: There will be more disruptions before there's a return to normal. So take this time to invest in the future, because it will be here before you know it. Seth Weisblatt Furniture Trends THE LONGER VIEW OF FURNITURE'S FUTURE RO Seth Weisblatt is a former Digital Marketing VP at Ashley Furniture Industries and Executive VP at Sam's Appliance & Furniture in Texas. He currently serves as Director of Merchandising/Home Furnishings for AVB/BrandSource, the nation's leading merchandising and marketing co-op for independent appliance, home furnishings and consumer tech dealers.

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