by Chas Sydney
With the current environment exerting unprecedented pressure on the area rug industry, the business challenges are apparent, and no one is immune.
Struggling retailers have turned to selling inventory, depleting stock and downsizing—all detrimental to the business, and severe for manufacturers and importers looking to keep supply pipelines flowing. But savvy business owners can turn these challenging times into ways to strengthen business.
Now is the time to re-evaluate your business and decide what will set you apart from the competition. When retailers eliminate inventory, they provide less product on the shelves, thereby giving buyers fewer purchase options. This short-term gain cannot benefit long-term prosperity.
The better strategy right now: Fill those racks. If you have the resources and capability, start refreshing your store inventory. The retailer who offers the best products now available stands to gain the most. If consumers are shopping half-empty racks, the impression is they’re choosing from leftovers—definitely not the latest fashion-forward designs. A purchase needs to be from the newest selection.
While your competitors are struggling, show your community that you will be around for the long haul. Hosting a 70 percent off sale does not reinforce the trust your consumer should have in your store.
Keep a stocked store and merchandise product to sell. Show the customer the home lifestyle they can create with the addition of a new area rug. People are staying home more and rethinking the ways they enjoy their living space. Educate the customer on how they can redefine their space with the addition of a rug.
Also, it’s important to note that cross-merchandising has become a popular and innovative way to attract customers. By introducing other home products, you open the possibility of more traffic more often. It’s not about being everything to everybody, but expanding on current offerings with complementary product to create a destination.
Presentation is essential, but the customer has to be in the store to discover the value of the product. The best way to attract in-store traffic is through marketing. Aggressive retailers increase marketing efforts to gain market share.
Market yourself as well by becoming an industry resource. Attending markets and shows is the most efficient way to discover innovative product to reinvent your store. Markets also enable you to interact with peers and principals at key companies to share ideas and build relationships. Attend shows that offer the largest, most diverse product selection so you can explore everything at once.
There is no time like the present to take your business to the next level. Strong and savvy retailers who reinvest in their company and focus on becoming stronger during harder times will survive. Be sure you are among those standing strong when the dust settles.
Chas Sydney is senior vice president of area rugs at AmericasMart Atlanta,
a leading gift, home furnishings and area rug marketplace. He can be reached