How sustainability can help you sell furniture

Sustainability has long been a buzzword in the home furnishings industry. But while that can mean many things—from using recycled materials to energy-saving practices in factories or stores—the universal truth is that going green can make you more green. 

According to a recent consumer survey from the Sustainable Furnishings Council, 97% of respondents said they would prefer to buy sustainable furniture if the style and price are similar. And the majority of respondents indicated they would be willing to spend more on sustainable furniture, with four in 10 saying they would pay up to 10% more.

Clearly most consumers care about sustainability when making purchases, but does that mean everything in your store has to be recycled or overtly environmentally friendly? No. You can still tell a sustainability story to your customers without completely changing your product assortment. Here’s how:

Play up the fact that long-lasting products are inherently sustainable.

The fast fashion industry has received major blowback in recent years for the contribution their cheap, poorly made apparel has added to the problem of waste in this country. And the same can be said for “fast furniture”—inexpensive, cheaply made pieces that are likely to only last a season or two, particularly outdoors.

You know your products are built to last—use that fact to explain how those furnishings will be in your customers’ backyard for years to come, not in a landfill adding to the global waste problem. That longevity of use reduces your customer’s carbon footprint and can help them feel even better about their purchase.

Offer/play up reupholstering services.

While we all know quality performance fabrics are woven to last for years, eventually most cushions or pillows will need a refresh, even if just for aesthetic purposes. Offering or facilitating reupholstering services can allow your customers to continue to use the same cushions or pillows longer. And participating or encouraging customers to participate in programs like Recycle My Sunbrella can help reduce even more waste.

Offer resale items.

While getting into the used furniture business may sound like a bad move, including some resale items in your inventory can be a boost to business in a number of ways. For one, resale items are more sustainable, reusing existing products rather than expending the energy to produce and ship new items. And in a time when supply chain disruptions and shipping delays are making it harder to get new product in a timely manner, resale items give you immediately available inventory. 

Take small steps. 

Improving or promoting sustainability doesn’t have to be an all or nothing endeavor. Start small (see step 1) and go from there. With consumers—particularly younger generations—so cognizant of the importance of the environmental impact of their actions and purchases, showing you care about their values will go a long way to earning their loyalty as a customer.

This story first appeared in sister publication Casual News Now.

Jennifer Bringle

Jennifer Bringle is the executive editor of Casual News Now. She has served as editor-in-chief of Casual Living, the leading trade publication covering the outdoor furnishings and accessories industry. She also served as managing editor of Designers Today, a trade publication focused on the interior design community. Prior to that, she served as editor-in-chief of Kids Today magazine, the leading trade publication of the infant and juvenile home furnishings and accessories industry. Jennifer also has been featured on Good Morning America, The Plum and the Associated Press.  Jennifer is a 2001 graduate of North Carolina State University with a B.A. in mass communication with a minor in journalism.

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