Brings insights and advice to BrandSource’s home furnishings members
By Alan Wolf, YSN
With the unofficial start of the holiday season — Black Friday — nearly upon us, Furniture Technology Source (FTS), BrandSource’s home furnishings arm, prepped members for the critical selling days ahead with a virtual Town Hall.
Hosted earlier this month by home furnishings general manager Michael Posa and vendor relations lead Luke Larsen, the session began with a recap of this year’s new programs and vendor partners. The list includes:
Larsen advised members to keep abreast of the group’s latest sales events and promotions by accessing the BrandSource Backroom, where they will also find FTS’s regularly updated program books.
Elsewhere, FTS’s digital catalog has now topped 225 brands, and is regularly updated with images, product information, best-seller rankings and pricing when provided by vendors, Larsen said. Customers visiting members’ AVB websites can also call up recently-viewed products, and the AVB Marketing team is busy adding new functionality, including custom product configuration, finer search-by-attribute filters and automated pricing updates for mattress promotions.
Each of these features will cause customers to spend more time on members’ websites, Larsen said, which increases engagement and close rates.
Turning their attention to the state of the industry, Larsen and Posa reviewed key trends and highlights from last month’s High Point furniture market in North Carolina. The top takeaway for Larsen was the nearly complete turnaround in inventory availability since the prime days of the pandemic. Today, more vendor promotions are on overstock, ocean freight prices are decreasing, and manufacturers are diversifying their product lines in order to play a more prominent role with retailers.
That said, order minimums are increasing and stops are decreasing for domestic land freight, while made-to-order brands are inching closer to pre-pandemic lead times, Larsen said.
From Posa’s perspective, color is making a comeback in home furnishings, although we’ve not seen the end of gray, while domestically-made, environmentally friendly goods are taking a front seat with shoppers.
Looking ahead to the new year, the FTS execs advised members to consider new vendors, but to also remember the brands that supported them during the pandemic. Ultimately though, dealers should streamline their assortments and “lean into the vendors that can best support your business” in order to become a more important partner. This, Larson said, can possibly lead to co-op support, better price tiers and other vendor allowances.
On the home front, dealers should remind their sales teams and provide incentives to augment customer orders with accessories, fabric protections and other add-ons. Members can also drive sales through proper merchandising and by displaying more adjustable bases and point-of-purchase materials, the FTS merchants said, while enhancing their websites and digital strategies with chat and by better integrating their online and physical stores.
Lastly, those attending the Las Vegas Winter Market should be sure to attend the grand opening of FTS’s new Experience Center headquarters on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023. Located in Building B, showroom 1400, the high-tech collaboration space will welcome its first guests with a cocktail reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.