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How Can Retailers Differentiate from the Big Box Stores?

January 15, 2009

Yesterday I stopped off for a quick run through Costco to purchase salmon for dinner.  I was surprised to see Agio patio furniture already gracing their floor. The prominent colors this year are brown and rust. The collections were stacked closely together in a square footprint, right next to the cartons containing the pieces. There was no romance or style to the display and this is where you as a Casual Furniture dealer can make a difference.

Yes, Costco can sell these products, dining sets, deep seating, fire pits and bistro sets for a very low price point, however, they cannot spend the necessary time telling educating their customers about the qualities, warranties, and design features. They do not display the furniture in a way that encourages the customer to purchase. This is where a dealer can step up to the plate and make all the difference in the world.

Sure in this tough economy, price is the driving factor in most sales, however, customer service is still essential to high ticket items. Go head to head by showing what Costco has to offer and then compare it to what you as an independent dealer can offer to the customer.

It may be time to offer free delivery or another service that can compete with these big box stores, so take a step back and consider what you can do to increase sales.

Certainly, showing the furniture in the best possible light, with accessories in a setting that promotes good feelings will assist you in differentiating your store from the big box stores. While Costco does sell outdoor rugs and pots and other accessories, they lack the vision to place these items together in a pleasing visual merchandising vignette.

These are my outside views… What are you doing to differentiate your store? Marcia Blake