In the furniture world, it seems as if big retailers are getting bigger and more successful—and that goes for big box stores, large independent retailers, and more.
If that’s the case, is the day looming where Goliath crushes David? Or do smaller retailers still have a shot on the playing field?
Let’s take a look at both scenarios.
First, some of the bigger retailers like Ashley HomeStore, Rooms To Go and Mattress Firm saw huge furniture and mattress sales gains from 2020-2021—20%, 23% and 38%, respectively—which shows that they are indeed getting bigger.
Covid is one cause, acting as an accelerant and causing mom-and-pop shops to close or go bankrupt, and bigger stores to weed out their underperforming stores. These closures and bankruptcies could cause stronger players to gain even more market share.
And of course, there are big-box stores like Walmart and Target that are continuing to aggressively take on the furniture category both in stores and online.
It’s almost unfathomable, but it is possible that Goliath stores can push out underperforming independent retailers altogether in the next few decades, especially if inflation increases, smaller stores keep closing and bigger stores keep growing.
Bigger stores have more manpower and often employ multi-person professional marketing and PR teams that handle the advertising. We all know that their main advantage is resources, particularly money.
But there are some things money can’t buy.
We think small retailers have what it takes to stand out and get their piece of the pie, and there are a few ways they can compete.
First, don’t just get online, but optimize your website for local search. You want to show up in the local searches in your area, not national searches from people around the country.
Though it wouldn’t be smart to turn away that business, you’ll have a better shot of landing sales if you bring in people in your local area. Make sure you’re using social media in addition to web and print ads to get the word out about your store.
And with that, explain what makes your store different. Why should they come to you over big-box or large furniture stores?
That’s a question you should be asking yourself. Some retailers will have to dig deep into their stores to understand and express their value. But the more you can do that, the better you can explain it to a customer.
As a smaller store, you can also take advantage of different things bigger stores can’t do, like personalized service. Keep careful track of your customers and check in with them on a periodic basis. You may find that you can anticipate when they may need furniture and market to them at the appropriate times.
Become the hometown hero by getting involved with a lot of GiveBack and charitable events which, of course, will be held at the store. You’ll bring people together for a great cause and be able to meet members of your community, educate them about your business, and find out what’s important to them.
Be different and get your employees involved, add quirky content in your marketing material and level with customers as people. Not only will this build interest in your brand, but it will build loyalty and hopefully repeat customers.
Will big retailers keep getting bigger?
Probably. But for the smart independent retailer, it may not even matter.
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