How do you turn pandemic demand into long-term business?

Of all the challenges furnishings manufacturers and retailers face right now, a lack of business certainly isn’t one. Many people are barely keeping their heads above water with demand or they’re in a holding pattern waiting on delayed product. 

And though this pandemic has lasted longer than we anticipated, these issues will eventually abate, and with them the unprecedented demand for home furnishings. When that happens, will you be able to capitalize on current momentum to build a stronger foundation for your business’s future?

Here are four strategies to help you build on this boom for lasting sales success:

  1. Invest in technology updates

With sales through the roof, your business likely has a bit more money available to reinvest. And investing those funds in technology upgrades can bring your business lasting dividends. Whether it’s digitized machinery on the factory floor, upgraded inventory or point of sale systems, or data analytics software, investing in new technology for your business can allow you to streamline processes and monitor sales data to better understand your customers. But don’t tech for tech’s sake—make sure these investments will really benefit your business beyond adding fancy new bells and whistles.

2. Offer appointment shopping

The pandemic has changed the way people work, likely for good, with working from home and flexible schedules becoming the new norm. That means people are able to shop at times they might not ordinarily. Using customer analytics, retailers can determine their highest foot traffic periods and offer special appointment-only shopping events during slower periods. These kinds of events drive more traffic and also create an air of exclusivity for customers.

3. Create experiences

And on that note of adding an air of exclusivity, creating an experience in the store will not only inspire new customers to visit your store, it can also drive return customer traffic. Events like new product intro receptions, happy hours, private shopping, or cookouts using the grills you sell can create a sense of excitement and set your store apart from the competition. This isn’t just a sale or promotion—this is an event designed to make the customer feel special, like they’re an insider. 

4. Put the customer first

The casual industry is known for its dedication to customer service, and the past year-plus has tested that dedication as retailers and manufacturers have fielded angry calls and frustrated complaints about pandemic product delays. While the customer service job might get easier once this is all sorted out, that doesn’t mean customer service becomes less important. Consumers have become accustomed to companies going the extra mile to make them happy during the pandemic, and with more shopping options than ever and a public that may be wary of in-person shopping for a while, positive interactions on the sales floor will be more important than ever.

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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