17 July 2009

Lessons from other industries, 2

Do you run your business for the convenience of you? Or for the convenience of your customers? It's a customer service question
Do you run your business for the convenience of you and your employees, or for the convenience of your customers?
That’s a question I first heard when I was writing about the hotel industry. A general manager of a business hotel told me his property had a business center that was open 9 to 5. Most business travelers were out the door by 8 and returned after 6. If they needed faxing, copying or printing, they were out of luck. The center was closed. The health club had similar hours, rendering it useless for guests staying at the hotel on business.
Once the hotelier thought about this, he extended the hours of the business center and fitness center. He started running the hotel for the convenience of his customers—the business traveler.
The question for home furnishings retailers is: Do you run your store for the convenience of shoppers? To answer that, you have to know who your customer base is, when they shop and how they shop. You really have to know your customer. Then you can decide the hours and days you should you be open, how to staff your store, and what categories/lines to carry.

16 July 2009

French exhibitors at NY gift show

from a press release
NewswireToday - /newswire/ - Paris, France, 07/16/2009 - Twenty-two French groups set to showcase in the General Gift and Accent on Design divisions, August 16-20, New York.
Ateliers d'Art de France, the French federation for craft professionals, has brought together twenty-one French manufacturers to showcase their collections at the CreatedinFrance® pavilions in the General Gift and Accent on Design sections of the New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF).
Bringing French flair to New York, original design, high quality manufacture and unmatched style at the CreatedinFrance pavilions will provide event visitors with exclusive international ideas for gifts and home deco items.
"We are pleased to have such a fantastic selection of French companies showcasing such an inspiring range of products at the New York event this August," shares Serge Nicole, President of Ateliers d'Art de France. "The USA market remains one of the most important in the world, and showcasing at the New York International Gift Fair underlines our commitment to this region."
CreatedinFrance exhibitors at the NYIGF, August 2009:

General Gift:
Aladine; Alain Saint Joanis; Beauville; BTC Distinguished French Gifts; Claude Dozorme Cutlery; Faiencerie de Quimper-HB Henriot; Jouets Petitcollin; Laguiole en Aubrac; Les Provencales Ambiences, Inc.; Panier des Sens; Provence Lavandes; George G; Tissages Moutet; Valombreuse; Vilac.
Accent on Design
L'Agenda Moderne ; Esteban ; Jars Ceramistes ; Jean Pierre Lepine ; Robert le Heros ; Tair Mercier.

Contempo chair and bench

The Seat Belt dining chair and leaf bench are from furniture wholesaler The Phillips Collection.The Seat Belt dining chair and the Seat Belt leaf bench are from The Phillips Collection. Besides red, the furniture comes in orange, black, green and white. The chair measures 33 inches tall and the bench 18 inches.

Retailers and designers: Contact the company for prices and minimums.

Shoppers: Ask your favorite independent retailer to order this product for you.

Lessons from other industries

I’ve interviewed business owners and managers in many industries over the last 30 years. The common thread that ties them all together is an emphasis on customer service. These owners create an advantage by knowing their customers, listening to them, responding to them and never taking them for granted.
Look at custom-home builders. They can’t claim advantages in labor or materials. They often share plumbers, carpenters, electricians and other subcontractors. Builders buy the same products—GE appliances, Kohler tubs and Corian counters.
The great builders stand out because of the service they deliver to home buyers. Builders build houses on time and correctly (with no call-backs). They communicate with buyers about the building and closing process so there are no surprises.
Great builders offer services beyond home building. One executive told me his company delivers lunch while the family is moving in and returns to hang pictures.
Home furnishings retailers have access to the same products and sources. Think about your marketing and selling practices. What are you doing in customer service to elevate your store above the competition?

15 July 2009

Must-see sections at Chicago gift show

The Chicago Market: Living and Giving officially kicks off today. The temporary exhibits open on Saturday. The show's popular Lake Living inspirational/aspirational display returns. Located on the 8th floor, Lake Living displays lifestyle-inspired resources from Merchandise Mart exhibitors in a house setting. The companion Lake House Living Lounge will demonstrate how simple it can be to incorporate environmentally friendly products into home interiors.
Living and Giving: Green is a second display, featuring ideas, trends and products for environmentally conscious customers.

Contemporary coat rack

 Kleiderleiste Illuminated Coat Rack from the online retailer MochaThe Kleiderleiste Illuminated Coat Rack is made of brushed stainless steel and incorporates a concealed light source. Coat hangers can be hooked into the available slots at varying positions along the length of the wall-mounted Kleiderleiste. (Kleider is German for clothing; leiste for board.) It is available from the online retailer Mocha in Essex, England.
The rack, which is 8cm (about 3 1/4 inches) tall, fixes to the wall with a depth of only 5cm (2 inches). It is available in four standard lengths from 60cm to 131cm (23 1/2 to 51 1/2 inches). The Kleiderleiste is also available to order in custom lengths. Low-energy LEDs are the light source. They come in white, yellow, red, green or blue.

14 July 2009

2010 Gift For Life tickets on sale

Gift for Life, the gift, stationery and home decor industries' leading charitable organization, is selling discounted tickets for the January 2010 fundraising party "Kings and Queens Casino Night" in New York. Tickets are $100 each until Sept. 22, when the price increases to $150. The ticket includes food, drinks, dancing, games and more. The event will be held on Jan. 31, 2010 (during the New York International Gift Fair) from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at La.venue.

For more information and ticket purchase, visit http://www.diffa.org/giftforlife or contact Julia Dexter at 212-727-3100 or jdexter@diffa.org

Gifts and tabletop

The Merci collection of hostess gifts from Mud Pie.
Mud Pie's new trend-forward collection of tabletop and gift items is called "Merci." The collection features wood cutting board sets, trays, napkins, spreaders and bottle toppers in 10 different designs: Paisley, Damask, Fleur de Lis, Crown, Grape, Sailboat, Shell, Zebra, Tennis and Giraffe. Each item comes packaged with grosgrain ribbon detail and matching To/From hangtags.

Retailers: Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimums.

Shoppers: Ask your favorite independent retailer to order these products for you.

13 July 2009

Book signing at California gift show

On July 16, author and former retailer Carolyn Howard-Johnson will sign A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques.
See her in the CMA showroom on the 13th floor of the California Mart, 110 E. 9th St., Los Angeles. Buyers can eat breakfast there beginning at 8:30 a.m. Carolyn also writes for the Gift and Home Channel.
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