Flippers with stacks of one-of-a-kind rugs are no longer a viable option at most trade shows. The questions are “Why” and “What Now”?
Traffic with eyeballs is the most important metric at trade shows. With the demise of the traditional oriental rug retailers, the majority of buyers of one-of-a-kind are interior decorators who are buying for a need “not stock.”
“Not stock” means the time selling (flipping rugs) must be recovered in one rug and maybe subsequent individual requests after the show is over. Personal relationships established at the show may sell future one-of-a-kinds. (See Designers’s Notebook. Interior designer are loyal to trusted sources)
For one-of-a-kinds, no one knows which rug will sell first, so the cost of delivering images (top of the pile rugs) is all up front in trade show costs before a single rug sells. The buyer is blind because they do not know what to expect with the next rug in a pile.
The customers of interior decorators are irregular buyers with purchases spread over years with a vast range of budgets. I don’t understand how flipping rugs for an interior decorator with one customer is a cost effective use time for either the flipper or the interior decorator.
At the risk of being radical, sellers need imagery that minimizes the buyer’s time looking at the full range of designs and colors on offer. Use Technology to decrease the cost of delivering images (flipping rugs) to the interior decorator.
Technology is coming to the home furnishings industry: Augmented reality, video, however delivered, and billboards. Billboards come in two varieties: LED and digitally printed vinyl. Consider A 2-foot by 3-foot representation of rugs that can be read at walking speed as are billboards on a highway – to catch the “walk-by” and possibly “walk-in.”
Large screen TVs can become interactive billboards at the entrance to and in the showroom enticing the walk-by to stop and flip. Put the best sellers and newest introductions on the floor and the walls, so the potential buyer can touch and feel.
Perhaps take a note from the big programmed rug manufacturers. Jonathan Witt of Oriental Weavers says that to sell online, they now create 6 pictures for each rug design: portrait shot, corner shot, a close up of the pile, a rolled rug, the back of the rug and a room shot. Can an inventory of one-of-a-kinds come to market as pictures on a screen that can easily be flipped by the potential buyer – perhaps with personal help — rather than two flippers.
S&H may be headed in that direction as all their inventory is pictured online. Having already spent the money to photograph and index their inventory, they, like others, could slide show their entire inventory on a big screen in addition to the rugs on the floor.
Just Connect Eyeballs to Images
At the end of the day, it comes down to connecting eyeballs to images with technology and then providing the touch and feel experience which surveys say at least half the millennials want.