Sales and traffic are down across the home furnishings board, but improvement may be closer than you might think – according to Ethan Chernovsky, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Placer.ai, a foot-traffic analytics firm.
According to Furniture Today, Chernovsky says home furnishings is “well-positioned. … There are signs a surge is coming.”
But two rent-to-own veterans believe if you want to ensure foot traffic at your stores, then you must take a bigger-picture view and an active role in making it happen.
“Web traffic, online payments, and of course COVID have all contributed to less foot traffic over the past few years,” says Larry Carrico, CEO of SKC Enterprises, Inc. dba Rent One. “While store visits have risen dramatically since COVID has subsided, our greatest value-add is our team members – they’re what keeps our foot traffic steady.
“Our web presence helps clients compare and decide between the RTO transaction and retailer offerings, but our team members are trusted advisors and highly influence our clients’ decision to visit our stores. Clients like to visit with our coworkers, and view, touch, and compare furniture in person.”
“The store experience is vital to getting footprints in your stores,” says Lyn Leach, President of Ace Furniture & TV Inc. dba Ace Rent-To-Own. “While it is more difficult to get foot traffic in the stores nowadays, I think it can be offset by marketing in ways that encourage people to come to you. We’re having much success with tent sales, special events, giveaways with in-store registration, and our referral program.”
“To drive traffic to your store, you must create a unique experience. We create events designed to get our clients actively involved,” agrees Kelly Martin, SKC Enterprises Inc. dba Rent One’s Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Culture. “For example, our Black Friday event is highly engaging; we send a plinko chip to our clients with instructions to bring it into the store on Black Friday and drop it into the plinko board to see what additional discount they’ll get on top of our sale prices.”
While both Carrico and Leach work hard at attracting customers into their stores, they also feel rent-to-own businesses have a distinctive advantage over retail: the special relationships RTO employees build over time with their customers and their communities. So they seem relatively unworried about foot traffic ebbs and flows.
“Furniture and mattresses are still the products clients stop in to see, feel, sit or lie on,” says Leach. “I don’t see that changing.”