14 October 2009

New online selling tool for furniture retailers

from a press release

Dallas, TX, October 13, 2009: Furniture store professionals can easily envision walking a customer through a showroom, pointing out product features and details and browsing through vendor catalogs and fabrics while answering questions and establishing rapport. Now imagine this face-to-face interaction takes place online as your customer shops for new living room furniture from the comfort of her own living room. LiveAction Personal Shopper software from HFIA and CEPA Technologies brings this futuristic technology to today’s marketplace.

“This is the next generation of in-home shopping,” states HFIA President Mary Frye. “Retailers will increase in-store sales by letting a new generation of consumers walk through their retail store from the comfort of the consumer’s own living room. Visitors to your web site can instantly browse your store and ask questions while you walk your camera through the store and focus on the smallest of product details. If you do not stock the item, you can even share online catalogs. If the consumer has a sample they are trying to match, they can simply show it to you using their computer’s camera.”

The LiveAction Personal Shopper combines the accessibility of the internet with the audio and video capabilities of television to bring a personal connection to online interaction. The face-to-face, interactive time with a sales consultant or designer is one of the most valuable parts of the program for retailers. Sales consultants and consumers can narrow down product selection, work with online room planners, go through online product catalogs, and do much of the leg work before coming into the store.

A LiveAction Personal Shopper session can be shared with up to eight people for an instant online seminar. This feature can also be used to involve an absent decision-maker such as a spouse who wants to provide input on a purchase, leading to higher closing rate without having to coordinate a time when both parties can be in the store together. The sessions can also be recorded to play back later.

By endorsing the LiveAction Personal Shopper service from CEPA Technologies, HFIA furthers their goal of offering industry-specific tools to independent-thinking home furnishings professionals. “Our members are used to pushing the envelope,” says President Mary Frye, “What may seem like Star Wars technology to some furniture retailers will be considered cool and exciting to others.”

This technology is already being used successfully in the automotive and jewelry industries, which have in common a relatively low percentage of online sales with the furniture industry. “New solutions for showing products as well as innovative delivery services and flexible return policies are making online sales an achievable reality for many stores whose future may be otherwise bleak. A vibrant online presence and online selling is not only necessary, it’s vital, to the survival of today’s home furnishings retailer,” said HFIA Board Member David Lively of The Lively Merchant.

Mike Callagy, Vice President of Business Development for CEPA Technologies, is excited to be working with HFIA. “I’m looking forward to showing retailers how this works at the High Point market,” he said. Visit the CEPA Technologies display adjacent to the HFIA booth in the atrium of the Furniture Plaza building, near the entrance to Plaza Suites, for a demonstration of the service. HFIA members will also receive a free 30-day trial of LiveAction Personal Shopper.

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