Furnitureland South Makes Things Easy for Clients
The furniture retailer tries to take the pain out of interior design with its omnichannel processes.
Furniture retail is not a sector that one usually associates with state-of-the-art technology, but that is where Furnitureland South sets itself apart. President and CEO Jeffrey Harris explains that the retailer continuously focuses on using the latest innovations.
Each of its design consultants utilizes iPads as they service customers in its stores, while its website features a new order entry system. This results in “a much better experience for the customers in the store,” he says.
However, “The biggest change is that our design consultants are able to stay with the client while shopping rather than leave to look up prices,” he says. “We are also able to scan items on the showroom floor and add these items to their shopping cart. The entire experience is so much more efficient and saves our clients’ time.”
Based in Jamestown, N.C., the company partners with more than 1,000 manufacturers to offer clients products that range from furniture to accessories to bed linens. “We are a turnkey solution for the residential shopper,” Harris says.
Furnitureland started operations in 1969 and today operates from its campus in Jamestown, where it has 1.3 million square feet of showroom space.
Its campus features its Showroom and its Mart gallery building, as well as its outlet center, which sells samples that were featured at High Point Market shows. “We take those products and sell to the consumers what we would normally pay wholesale prices for,” Harris says.
Furnitureland’s location is close to High Point, N.C., “the furniture capital of the world,” Harris declares. “High Point has always been known as a hotbed for furniture and people know they can find quality goods, great value and discount pricing by shopping at our store.”
This keeps Furnitureland in touch with trends, since “the most creative minds in our industry are in High Point frequently,” Harris says. ”Every April and October, the largest trade show in the industry is here in High Point.
“That is the first glimpse that our industry has at many new trends and products,” he continues. “Each market brings in around 100,000 people. There are many product designers that also live in this area.”
Evolving With Customers
Customers’ shopping habits are changing and Furnitureland takes steps to evolve with them. The majority of the company’s marketing budget is spent on digital promotions, which has led to the launch of its new website to take advantage of omnichannel shoppers.
Although clients can purchase products via the site, “We find a lot of our customers go to our website for information and inspiration,” Harris says, noting that they engage with them before the purchase.
Usually, customers are more likely to chat with Furnitureland via its site than they are to call or email the company. This has helped the company engage with clients who live a long distance from the store.
“We show them the advantage of traveling and coming in,” Harris says. “Sixty-five percent of our business is done with consumers who live outside of the state of North Carolina.”
The online chats also save customers time when they finally come to visit Furnitureland. With 1.3 million square feet of showroom space, “It can take you a couple days to walk around and see this place,” he admits.
When clients speak with Furnitureland’s design consultants through the web, they can develop product wish lists. “When the client gets here, we can start showing them options and solutions,” Harris says.
He maintains that the service that clients receive at Furnitureland is superior to what they find at its competitors. “You’re not going to get the interior design assistance [elsewhere],” he says.
For example, “Many of our design consultants are educated designers that can assist with space-planning, selecting current fashions and color trends, and mixing materials to create a look that each client can call her own,” Harris says. “Eighty percent of our business is special-order business, which means the options are limitless with over 1,000 brands of quality home furnishings.”
Making it Worth the Trip
When clients do make the long trek to Furnitureland, the company makes it worth their while through its VIP Experience offering. Recently, the company formed a partnership with Jet It, a HondaJet fractional ownership company based in Greensboro, N.C.
This allows Furnitureland to give customers the opportunity to fly in a private jet. “We’ve found that flying into Greensboro can save these consumers time, and it’s fun,” Harris says. “It’s not every day you get to hop on a private jet.”
Furnitureland’s partnership also allows customers to enjoy reduced rates. The second hour of their flights, he notes, are complimentary. And when they fly in, “We can pick them up at the airport,” Harris says.
Clients also can book a stay at “Top of High Point,” a 4,200-square-foot, four-bedroom suite located on the 15th floor of Market Square Tower in High Point. Furnitureland provides guests with recommendations on where to dine, as well. “We’re able to provide a concierge-level service to clients if that’s what they’re interested in,” Harris says.
Strengths in Logistics
Furnitureland stays very competitive by completing deliveries with its own equipment. Although many furniture companies outsource their logistics to third parties, “We feel that’s one of our strengths,” Harris says.
Today, the company has an 800,000-square-foot, climate-controlled distribution center at its location in Jamestown. “We deliver 70 loads of furniture every week,” he says.
Furnitureland also runs two shifts of distribution at the location, which allows it to open, check and prep products before they leave the center. “[We also] continue to look for ways to improve on the logistic side,” Harris says.
But like many, Furnitureland has found it challenging to find enough professional drivers, as well as adjust to the increased transportation costs created by the laws requiring electronic logs. But the company has alleviated some of this pressure by opening a new distribution hub in south Florida in the Tampa market.
“That’s a high-volume area for us,” Harris says, explaining that the market has allowed Furnitureland to hire more personnel and deliver tandem loads. “This has reduced our costs and it’s given the customers in that market a better service.”
A Simple Process
Harris sees a strong future for Furnitureland, which plans to continue staying relevant when it comes to products, as well as the experiences it offers customers. “They want to be enjoying life,” he says.
“They don’t want to go through several weeks of furnishing their home,” Harris continues. “We want to make this is a simple, easy process.”
This will require Furnitureland to sync up the experience consumers have on its website with the ones they have in its stores. The company also hopes to grow its footprint with the opening of design centers in key areas of the United States.
At these locations, Furnitureland can start the design process for customers who are interested in visiting its main campus to make their final decisions. “[We are also] looking at additional logistics hubs for home deliveries,” Harris adds.
Paying it Forward
Furnitureland makes a habit out of giving back. According to Harris, this continues the tradition established by his parents, who both contributed to their community when they ran the company. “We really want to honor that legacy,” he says.
“My brother Jason and I support a lot of area charities,” Harris says. These organizations include Victory Junction Camp, which specializes in safely challenging children with medical conditions to do things that they did not think were possible.
The company also gives to Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army International and American Heart Association. “We want to pay it forward to help as many of these charities in our area as possible,” Harris says.