What do you think? From emerging trends to the latest business principles, Furniture News is setting out to gauge the trade’s feelings on a variety of industry-specific topics. Today, we’re asking our panel: What’s your biggest frustration about the way the trade works?
Rob Scarlett (Scarlett Design): The lack of focus on originality
Andy Stockwell (Gardiner Haskins): I don’t have any major frustrations with the trade per se. My remit covers a lot of different sectors aside from furniture (housewares, cook shop, tiles and flooring, luggage, bedding), and there really aren’t huge differences in the way that they operate. The biggest frustration with them all is when they sell direct to the consumer at prices which undercut the retailers that support them. It essentially puts them in direct competition with the retailer
Lee Ness (Global Upholstery Solutions): Like wine, I think trade buyers don’t understand where value is. If it is expensive, it doesn’t mean it is good, and vice versa
Adam Hankinson (Furniture Sales Solutions): The most forward-thinking businesses are always working on getting better, but many others are reliant on their history – and this, unfortunately, holds less and less importance for many younger people entering the market. You have to be working on the next three steps in every part of your business
Anne Davies (Room to Grow): As a small retailer, our commitment to volume is limited. We look to find new products that are design and trend led, rather than price led, but finding manufacturers who will supply lower volumes of design-focused pieces can be a challenge at times. That doesn’t stop us, though – we’re committed to offering our customers something different, and more choice!
Steve Adams (Mattress Online): It amazes me how so many manufacturers are still playing catch-up with their online strategy, and their reluctance to embrace the internet as a sales channel and route to market. Managed correctly, it’s not something to be wary of
Dids Macdonald OBE (ACID): The lookalike culture, with little respect for IP ownership
Gavin Boden (Rhenus Home Delivery UK): Too much production in the Far East
Royce Clark (Grampian Furnishers): I think we as a trade needs to be slicker. We can absolutely take lessons from other industries and brands in terms of speed of delivery and the aftersales process – we are way behind the likes of Amazon and Zappos
Henrik Pontoppidan (S2U Design Containers): Probably that there’s not enough desire in general to stir things up and try something new – to forge new business relationships outside the slightly incestious environment most of us work in is very challenging. Most actors choose the ‘safe’ route – which sometimes becomes their Achilles heel …
Adam Ashborn (Reborn Marketing & Design): The seasonal sales-oriented marketing and general shopping experience. Consumers are far more aware of marketing than ever before. Smart use of advertising revenue that creates that emotional connection while still informing of a product’s features and benefits far outweighs discount/sale-oriented marketing. Creating a desire and need to purchase a product will ultimately drive more sales and increase foot traffic to stores. If a business has a store, no matter what, you are paying for staff, electricity, rent, etc – so encouraging people to visit the store should be the prime focus. Even if the consumer doesn’t purchase an item, it’s still creating that underlying desire which could lead to a sale later on down the line. Apple, IKEA and other stores use this ‘welcome to hang out and test products’ approach to their advantage. I believe, moving forward, the furnishing business will find innovative ways of reconnecting with its audience and finding solutions to drive foot traffic back to stores
Mike & Karen Rowley (Core Products): A tendency to follow, not lead
Peter Harding (Fairway Furniture): The time taken from new models being introduced by suppliers at shows to being delivered to us as retailers – it is often far too long
This article featured in the July 2021 edition of Furniture News magazine.