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Greater Metropolitan Home Furnishings Association (GMFA) Holds First Free Educational Seminar

Furniture World News Desk on 9/12/2012

Speakers Satish Natarajan of DispatchTrack and Johne Albanese of MicroD

Members and guests at the free breakfast seminar sponsored by GMFA

The Greater Metropolitan Furnishing Association (GMFA) announced the completion of its first free retail educational breakfast seminar featuring speakers Johne Albanese of technology supplier MicroD and delivery app expert Satish Natarajan from Dispatch Track.

The well attended seminar was held in Wood-Bridge, New Jersey at the Fiesta restaurant.

“The seminar attracted local retailers and reps who were astounded to learn from Johne’s talk about how 90 million Gen Y customers view shopping in retail furniture stores versus online, and the relative rates of growth for the two channels,” said Chris Clarizio who represents Klaussner and is on the executive board of GMFA. “They also showed a great deal of interest in Satish’s presentation about how the application of mobile technology apps can increase efficiency and control over the entire delivery process."

Johne Albanese spoke about how local retailers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut need to come up with a cohesive strategy that includes all of the elements of online communications including digital asset management, strong SEO integration, robust social media tools and e-commerce functionality.

“Johne told our group about how over 16% of the average brick and mortar retailer’s business is being siphoned off due to internet competition,” Michael Fischer, President of retailer Sofa’s Plus, another GMFA board member noted. “Our retailer members were grateful to find out how we can re-capture this volume  by focusing on creating a web strategy to do a better job of selling and delivering just in our local trading areas.”

Satish Natarajan’s talk looked at how mobile apps and website integration can help retailers to save an average of $1,000 per delivery truck per month. He also emphasized how this technology makes the whole delivery process transparent. Store managers, he told the group, can easily flag problem deliveries online in minutes rather than hours, increasing customer satisfaction and reducing double service calls. He explained how they can also avoid most delivery follow-up phone calls and dramatically decrease service calls. He also spoke about how reporting on drivers’ locations and more exact scheduling and routing has been shown to increase driver efficiency, create gas savings, and boost back office efficiency.

“Based on the feedback we received following this first seminar,” said Patrick Cory, GMFA’s current president and managing partner at Cory Home Delivery, “we are already starting to plan our next educational seminar for later this year. Since the merger of the GNYHFA and MFA in 2011, we have strengthened our social and networking events and have created a robust list of our own member discounts to supplement the ones we offer through IHFRA. These educational seminars is another thing we can do as an association to help our local home furnishings community do a better job of selling home furnishings.”

About GMFA: The Greater Metropolitan Furnishings Association, established as The Furniture Club in 1942, consists of 210 members, including metropolitan area retailers, representatives, designers, and service providers. It is a non profit run by furniture industry volunteers (members of the former MFA and GNYHFA Associations) for the purpose of creating a strong and cohesive regional home furnishings industry. For more information contact Alan Granetz, Greater Metropolitan Furnishings Association at (908) 725-3460 or email greatermfa@gmail.com.

About Speaker Satish Natarajan: Satish is the Founder & CEO of DispatchTrack, a premium software provider for delivery and service organizations. Prior to DispatchTrack, Satish founded Kaverisoft, a software services company that focused on web application and mobile application development. During this time, his team developed mobile software for city governments to dispatch and track tow trucks to ease traffic congestion. At that time, whereas most of the mobile industry was focused on games and other entertainment apps, Satish and his team saw that mobile technology could be really useful for the trucking industry, and especially organizations with mobile workers - such as the furniture industry. That's what led him to develop DispatchTrack, which allows you to route and track your deliveries and also manage customer satisfaction through mobile.

Satish has over 15 years of experience in leading research and development of software solutions. His experience includes working for Infoseek, Disney, Propel Software and Return Path. He has a Bachelors degree in Computer Science from Mysore University and a Masters Degree in Computer Science from University of Mississippi. For more information on DispatchTrack visit www.dispatchtrack.com.

About Speaker Johne Albanese: Johne Albanese is a nearly 30 year veteran of the home furnishings industry. During his career, he has had the opportunity to learn all of the various specialties in our industry including manufacturing, distribution, importing, retail, and eCommerce.

Albanese began his career after college at Indiana University when he joined Bassett Furniture Industries. Robert H. “Bob” Spilman, Sr, then Chairman and CEO of Bassett, took Albanese under his wing and spent the next 15 years ensuring that Albanese received his PhD in all things furniture. Over the years, he led Bassett’s marketing and communications, their gallery program and even developed and launched the first 50 Bassett Furniture Direct stores.

Since then, Johne has had the pleasure of heading up marketing strategies and implementations on behalf some of the industry giants including Pasquale Natuzzi and Pat Norton. An early adopter of all things web, Johne actually convinced Bob Spilman to allow him to launch a Bassett store on CompuServe in 1989, fully three years before the web as we know it was truly born. He’s continued in that spirit through his time at American Drew, Lea Industries and Natuzzi, guiding each of them through significant web strategy improvements.

For two years, he also served as CMO and then CEO for a pure-play online home furnishings retailer where, he will tell you, he received a very eye-opening baptism by fire. Today Johne serves as Senior Executive for Strategic Business Development for MicroD, a company with over 20 years of focused technology efforts on behalf of the home furnishings industry. Today, Johne is considered a “Web Channel Evangelist” for our industry and has made it his personal mission to assist our industry players in putting in place the tools needed to fully benefit from the massive industry opportunity afforded by the web. For more information on DispatchTrack visit www.microd.com.


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