Words by John Evans

I am very pleased to see that DFS are continuing on an upward trend despite the current climate and the doom and gloom being talked about with big ticket items.

This isn’t just coincidence or luck; it is because the management of DFS are focused on moving forward. They are not stuck in the past relying on their previous successes.

I have been associated with DFS since its inception and before that for Northern Upholstery who purchased the name and stores.

It has been very interesting seeing the progression during the years, and it is easy to see why they have maintained their number one slot.

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je+1 Retail. Moving Forward

This year, we have been working on the first phase of a refurbishment program for their stores which will bring the presentation of their furniture up to date and in sync with their online offering.

This is vitally important as shoppers’ habits have changed, for many the internet is the first place they visit when looking to purchase furniture. This provides them with style ideas, price points and importantly the opportunity to decide which stores to visit.

With items such as furniture, a visit to a store to view the furniture and in the case of sofas and chairs, sitting in them is essential if an expensive mistake is to be avoided. This is why purely online groups have been opening physical stores.

Retailers with established physical stores can have an advantage in the fact that they already have the stores, but unfortunately it isn’t as simple as this, as retailing now calls for a joined-up approach.

je+1 Retail. Moving Forward
je+1 Retail. Moving Forward

A good website is essential with an opportunity to buy online if preferred, presented in such a way as to engage with the customer, offer style ideas and give confidence that the retailer not only knows what they are selling, while give friendly and helpful advice. This needs to be backed up with the same approach on social media.  

Once all this has been achieved the in-store experience becomes crucial, as all the good work done on the internet can be undone as soon as the customer walks through the door. It is vital that the in-store experience lives up to the online experience and surpasses it.

je+1 Retail. Moving Forward

Retailers have to work harder than ever before to maintain their in-store experience for an ever more discerning customer. Those that do, will make the sale. This means that the overall first impression of the store has to reflect what the customer has seen online.   

This has to be backed up with the service received, staff have to be knowledgeable and helpful. In-store technology can help with this and DFS have invested heavily to be able to show full ranges of furniture digitally in multiple colour choices, not displayed in store. This has also allowed them to open smaller stores with the ability to show a full product range.

je+1 Retail. Moving Forward

As for our part, I have always believed that if you have managed to get the customer into your store, knowing the price point they are looking at, and if the product is displayed in the correct way within an ambience to suit, you are already on your way to a sale.

These are difficult times for everyone in retail and the way people are shopping has changed. Retailers cannot bury their head in the sand and hope that they will survive any longer, they have to embrace the changes and be at the forefront, rather than get left behind.

je+1 Retail. Moving Forward
je+1 Retail. Moving Forward

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