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Retailers realize the importance of brand

Andrea Lillo, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, June 18, 2001

With customers having so many choices about where to shop, and yet spending so much less right now, retailers face greater challenges as they try to attract them into their stores.

"Brand and store loyalty is a thing of the past," said Terry Handelman, merchant, Dekor, at HTT's Context conference here, as part of a retail panel that also included Anita Iodice, president, The Company Store, and Allen Josephson, vp, merchandising, House2Home. "A person needs a reason to visit a certain store," Handelman added. "You may not get a second chance."

Iodice noted that The Company Store catalog has about 30 seconds to capture a customer's attention since the typical customer receives many catalogs a week. That's why the retailer spends as much time on catalog design as it does on product design, she said.

When customers do visit a store, they must see fresh product for them to return, said Josephson, especially when House2Home's most frequent customers visit the store 30 times a year. "It begins and ends with the product." House2Home entices frequent return trips with such programs as 2Good2Miss, which features new one-time-buy items.

Newness is vital to The Company Store's merchandise as well, and product isn't designed with a five-year lifespan anymore, said Iodice, though its customer has the last word.

The basics are still an essential part of the mix, Handelman added, complementing the fashion forward items.

Dekor, which targets the "recovering do-it-yourselfers," she said, merchandises products by color for ease of shopping, and it updates its color palette for products periodically.

"The brand of the store is the only brand that truly counts," said Josephson. Product brands give store credibility, he added, but the customer's experience with the store's service and presentation is the one she is left with.

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