HIGH POINT, NC – April 18, 2002 – Attention to detail and follow-up with customers can result in increased sales for furniture retailers, according to Britt Beemer, founder and chairman of America’s Research Group.
Beemer told a group of home furnishings sales executives on the opening day of the semi-annual International Home Furnishings Market in High Point his surveys of American consumers over the last two years showed that more than one-fourth of all those shoppers purchasing a sofa priced $999 or higher bought other furniture within three or four months.

So what immediate action can retailers do to weather the current retail slump? “Stores can begin by focusing on being more active in their communities and improve customer service ” advises Beemer. “Currently our research shows that reputation is more important than price, and consumers will spend at stores that are committed to doing good in their local markets. Management also needs to find more ways to help shoppers get in and get out of stores as efficiently and as pleasantly as possible. Slashing prices alone won’t satisfy customers and won’t make them profitable in the long run. Those merchants who listen to their customer’s needs will be able to survive in this volatile retail environment.”

But often they did not return to the store where they made their original sofa purchase.

“Of consumers who made a related furniture purchase, less than half were encouraged to spend more and buy something else at the time they bought their sofa,” Beemer said.

When consumers received a thank you note from the furniture retailers, 29% told a friend or relative where they bought their furniture. Yet America’s Research Group surveys showed only 12 to 14 percent mentioned the store when they did not receive a follow up thank you note.

“What retailers think consumers do and what they really do often doesn’t match up,” Beemer said. “It’s the follow-up and attention to detail at the point of sale that really makes a difference in future purchases.”

Last year’s surveys showed 18 percent of shoppers visited the same retailer twice before buying there. Of those consumers who shopped but did not end up buying anywhere, more than a third visited at least two stores before giving up.

Less than 10 percent of consumers who did not buy from a retailer on their first visit ever heard any follow-up from that store.

Better qualifying questions could also lead to enhanced sales, Beemer added.

“One in five shoppers could have been motivated to buy if the sales person had asked better qualifying questions,” he said.

On average consumers buying mattresses in 2000 could recall only 1.4 qualifying questions from retail sales people, and furniture buyers recalled only 1.1 qualifying questions.

“The key to selling more furniture is for sales people to remember it’s the little things that matter to shoppers,” Beemer said.

With four million consumer interviews since its founding in 1979, America’s Research Group follows the nation’s shopping habits more than any other research firm in the country. ARG is also the leading research firm in the home furnishings industry, representing Sealy Mattress Company and Furniture Brands International, comprised of Broyhill, Thomasville, Lane and other industry leaders.

Beemer is author of two best-selling business books, Predatory Marketing and It Takes a Prophet to Make a Profit.

Return to News Index


Home | Marketing Services | Consumer Research | Books
ARG News | About ARG | Contact Us | Site Map