The current state of the world is shining a light on our everyday heroes.
Medical professionals and first-responders are fighting tirelessly for our well-being and retail employees are putting their own health second so we can buy essentials like food and medicine. Their bravery is astounding.
As we all are spending more time than ever before in our own homes, I wanted to take this time to reflect on some of our industry heroes. The home furnishings retail employees, from sales associates and delivery fleets to IT and warehouse teams, that help us make our house a home. A place where we can feel safe and comfortable with those we love. As we sink into our favorite spot on the sofa and pull the covers a little closer while in our own beds, I can’t help but think of just how important the people within our own home furnishings, bedding, and appliance industry sectors are.
As a new homeowner, I have had a lot of experience shopping for furniture and appliances lately. I wanted to share the story of Pat.
Pat has been working in one of my local furniture showrooms for over two decades and she knows her stuff! In the four hours we spent with her over the course of a weekend, she was at times a salesperson, psychologist, interior designer, and friend. I was nervous about buying a new sofa. It’s a big decision both monetarily and in how often it would be used, but Pat made the process a blast.
Here are five ways Pat made the shopping experience one I will remember:
- She was patient and kind. Over the course of two days and four hours, we moved the components of that sectional back and forth in every combination. She helped us with creative solutions to maximize our small space. She offered options for fabric, colors, and textures and gave her opinion while respecting ours.
- She knew her product knowledge inside and out from specs and fabrication to manufacturers and delivery time frames. She answered every question I threw at her without leaving my side.
- She embraced technology. As a 20-year home furnishings veteran, Pat whizzed around her tablet-based sales tool like no other. She had been introduced to it about 2 years prior and while at first, it was a learning curve, now she couldn’t imagine her job without it.
- She gave us the next step but didn’t pressure the close. We were in over President’s Day Weekend, but I was worried about deciding on a color before we moved into our home. Pat set up a cart for us, gave us price lists, and sent me home with fabric swatches. As we sit here stuck at home, only having lived here for 2 weeks, I stare at them each day and am leaning towards my final decision. All, we need to do is call and place the order. She gave us everything we needed and the time to be confident in our choice.
- She related to us. When I talked about what the sofa meant for us, the ideal layout for fitting nieces and nephews on movie nights, space on the chase to cuddle up at night, she pulled out her phone and showed us pictures of her grandchildren. What was a stressful first big furniture purchase, ended up being a joyful experience.
Yes, we were planning to return to look at the fabrics and colors one final time. We were going to swing by over the weekend and make our final decision. But we live in a different world right now due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. There has been so much discussion on the state of brick and mortar retailing over the last decade, but I for one know I can’t wait for the day to get back into a store. While this is an important time to focus on your eCommerce strategy and ensure your business is prepared for a digital world, I believe that there will be a greater appreciation for the physical once we can return to our normal lives where we can confidently leave our homes.
I know I took for granted how easy it was for me to pop into my local brick-and-mortar furniture showroom. I can’t wait to get back into retail stores.
Written by Caitlin Jascewsky. Caitlin writes STORIS’ educational content and manages STORIS.com, focusing on how retailers can use technology to enhance their customer experience. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Caitlin worked in retail for 7 years before joining STORIS.