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Social4Retail Furniture Tip #1: How Can You Compete Against The Commoditization of Everything!

Furniture World News


The Tortoise and the Hare
Commentary by Bill Napier, Social4Retail.com

(Aesop would be beside himself witnessing how this race really turned out)

Most everyone remembers this classic Aesop fable. The story concerns a Hare who ridicules a slow-moving tortoise and challenges the Tortoise to a race. The moral is that “slow and steady wins the race.” Not true – anymore. Rarely does going slow win any races. Going slowly is a good way to be careful, but that’s not what retail is about today. In fact, the real lesson is not about the tortoise at all, it’s about the hare.

Some retailers think that a slow and steady strategy wins the race to acquire new business in today’s “wired world”.

I think NOT. Being cautious, or ignoring the speed in which the internet has changed consumer buying behavior could be a recipe for disaster. As I always told my kids while they were growing up:

"You cannot think yourself into acting; you must act yourself into thinking."

We know that blogs and great website content (done right) creates 57% more leads than any other platform, but we don’t do it because it’s a lot of work. We know awesome customer service creates and maintains new customers, but we don’t invest in people and processes, because it costs too much money…Blah, blah blah, whatever, that costs too much money too.

The safe solution is to continue with our old “traditional – slow and steady” habits, plug along, and “hope” that our past successful methods of doing business will win the race.

Today, nothing is done slow. Texting, email, likes, pins, shares, check-in, reviews, and blogs…are you seeing a pattern yet?

Let’s take a look at the slow and steady grave yard: Borders, Blockbuster, KB Toys, GameStop, Talbots, Foot Locker, GAP and more, and that’s in 2011!

As for furniture stores: Robb & Stucky, Roomstore, Carls, Linders, Lacks… these are just a “few” of the larger furniture retailers. In the last 2 years, we’ve had over 60,000 retail stores bite the dust, because they didn’t run “fast enough” and they became irrelevant on the retail landscape.

If you’re not scared yet, this should scare you into change or to irrelevance. On July 11th, Amazon announced their new platform: “I Want It Today”.

What is this you ask?

Well Amazon is giving in on the fight to pay local taxes because they are embarking on their most significant expansion…ever. Amazon’s new goal is to get stuff to you immediately—in as little as 2 hours after you hit “Buy”.

Check out this article from "Slate" titled, "How Amazon’s ambitious new push for same-day delivery will destroy local retail."  http://slate.me/NCKPWS

They are going to build massive local distribution centers near your business and offer customers instant gratification. Consider these interesting facts. They are investing over $130MM in New Jersey, $135MM in Virginia, $150MM in Texas & Indiana and over $500MM in California…and these are the ones we know about.

So you’re slow and steady…50% off everything….yelling Sale!, Clearance!, Hot Buys!, whatever - it will become irrelevant, (as if it isn’t already), because you cannot compete with Amazon with that strategy, PERIOD. Amazon will win the race in search, product selection, price and now delivery. The commoditization of “everything” is now your largest competitor.

But, you say furniture is different. Technically you’re right, and technically you’re wrong. Online furniture sales are increasing at an annualized rate of 6% per year, BUT that is expected to increase to 9.9% per year to over $8BN per year

Consider this; On Amazon’s website, under “furniture” there are 681,587 items for you to search and shop…and shortly you may be able “get it today”. Wayfair (CSN Stores) is a $400MM+ on-line retailer of home furnishings and they have over 275,000 items just in furniture. So between the two, consumers have a choice of over 1 million items to choose from. (This number does NOT include accessories, just furniture) Think consumers will find what they’re looking for? Believe me, they will -- and this holds true for any “big ticket” item: electronics, appliances, cars and more….anything that can be bought in a brick and mortar retailer can now be bought on-line….anything and everything!

So Tortoises, the Hare(s) are not going to take a nap! You better start eating your carrots and understand the Who/What/Why & How your 126,000,000 Gen X and Gen Y consumers are searching for products, connecting with products, educating themselves, reading reviews, watching videos, sharing ideas and ultimately - how/where they want to buy.

Stay tuned for the second part in this series that will include 3 simple ideas to compete with these huge on-line predators.

Comments? Questions? Contact Bill Napier, Napier Marketing Group, Inc.
billnapier@napiermkt.com 612-217-1297 or visit www.social4retail.com

About Bill Napier: About Bill Napier: Bill is a specialist in creating, guiding and deploying successful marketing B2B & B2C solutions integrating traditional marketing strategies with the web and social media. He has worked in the home furnishings industry for over 12 years, as the chief marketing officer for some of the industry's largest manufacturers and creating some of the largest promotions ever launched within the industry.

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