New Orlando Superstore Takes Home Furnishings Into The Twenty-First Century.
Imagine the aroma of freshly baked cookies wafting through the air. Natural light floods the room from dozens of large windows, spilling onto overstuffed pillows and collectibles that fill every nook and cranny. The sweet sound of songbirds drifts down from above. The gurgling of water from an interior fountain covers the sound of conversations held elsewhere... and your cold glass of lemonade tastes just right on a warm, winter day in the center of Florida.
The imagery created by all of these elements suggests a pastoral hideaway perfect for curling up and settling in with a good book. But this scene is not in a cozy country cottage, but rather one of hundreds of lifelike, design oriented settings in Robb & Stucky's new Altamonte Springs showroom, just north of Orlando. This retailer has built a showroom that has been designed as a feast for the senses.
From the moment visitors enter the 85,000 square foot megastore, the sensory "banquet" begins. The tone is set by a light-filled, palm tree adorned atrium that extends the length of the showroom, and is reinforced by stone pillars, high-volume ceilings, and dozens of floorings and wallcoverings that showcase Robb & Stucky's signature lifestyle groupings.
Advertising has to reflect each dealer's offerings. In the case of Robb & Stucky, the task is awesome, because that is what this store is... awesome. To reflect that in such a way as to attract, not just tourists but people who need to buy home furnishings is the key to success.
This is where the art of selling home furnishings into the next millennium has begun. This is one man's vision of how home furnishings can be sold today.
In each grouping, customers encounter complete, fully accessorized settings that look and feel like real rooms in real homes. The settings, each highly targeted to a design style, mood or psychographic life segment, may include a sofa from one manufacturer, chairs from another, and accessories from a third.
According to the visionary, Clive Lubner, the CEO of Robb & Stucky, this approach, unique within the industry, makes selection less confusing for the customer while offering the opportunity for the company to showcase "our good, better and best" items.
Beyond the consumer friendly room settings, there are other showroom elements in place which provide a comfortable shopping environment. Among them are an in-store cafe featuring lemonade and freshly baked cookies and bread; a home theatre, where fidgety children can watch the latest Disney video; live birds (parakeets and chickadees) in the atrium area; and almost five dozen windows which fill the showroom with natural light, allowing customers to see the true colors of merchandise.
The television commercials for Robb & Stucky sell all of this. The commercials are full of excitement and spontaneity, full of richness and affordability. Television drives this retailers' traffic. It is the single, key element in a complex marketing communications strategy which delivers the ever changing retailer's messages to its specific buying public.
Robb & Stucky also hopes to broaden the appeal of the showroom by offering a larger selection of furnishings and additional lines at lower prices. Although Lubner concedes the company has had a reputation in Florida and Arizona as a high-end retailer, "one of the commitments we have made in our new showroom is to offer a broader price point selection," Lubner said. "We believe we can meet the growing budgets of upward professionals and young families without sacrificing our exacting standards for the quality of the product we offer."
Robb & Stucky's retail prices are, on average, lower than wholesale furniture warehouses and showrooms, and all merchandise is backed by the company's low-price guarantee, Lubner noted. For those customers who are seeking a specific item rather than a browsing experience, there are "Little Shops" throughout the showroom that complement the home furnishings departments, among them the Home Theatre, Kid's Stuff, Home Office and Accent shops.
Merchandise such as an ostrich table and a grass facade carpet share space in the showroom with Fred Flintstone wall hangings. All tallied, there are 300 pieces of furniture and 10,000 accessories representing hundreds of vendors with single-item prices that range from $5 to $14,000.
Television commercials show some of the sizzle which sells the steak for Robb & Stucky. Their award winning commercials continually reinforce whatever the management strategy is at that point in time. So in the case of a new megastore, the basics still must be kept in place... style, comfort and selection at an affordable price.
Given the sheer volume of inventory and the five years of planning that went into the showroom, it's not surprising that Lubner and his team of buyers, interior designers, craftspeople, marketers and managers are confident the "new" Robb & Stucky will become a prototype for the furniture retailing industry.
"We set out to build a furniture superstore, and I believe we've achieved that," Lubner said.
Lance G. Hanish is the President of Lance Benefield & Co., Inc. Worldwide, a leading marketing communications firm serving home furnishings retailers. Questions on any aspect of television media management or production can be direct to Mr. Hanish care of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org.