As internet shopping becomes more popular, even with furniture, the freestanding store will become less and less important to retailers. Think about it. Real estate is expensive. Another fact is that many sales people will spend lots of time with consumers who visit a store only to return home and make their purchase online. Maybe the solution is to have fewer stores; but have stores that can draw people to them from longer distances.
Best Buy quit displaying Apple’s I-Pad because too many people that visited the local store, and then made the purchase online from the comfort of their home. They came in to merely play with it; to experience it personally with the assistance of the sales team. The sales person became reliant on their number of hours worked rather than the number of commissioned sales. This reality has had a huge impact on the role of those employed in sales in all facets of retail. Maybe the role of the traditional sales person will evolve in the same way as the freestanding store… fewer may be better.
Few people would drive long distances to spend a great deal of time in a typical electronics store. They don’t go there for the experience of the purchase, but shopping for furniture should have an impact on someone’s life. People like to take their time without constant pressure to make a purchase because they will literally be living with their decision. Restoration Hardware may have the right idea here. They have created stores that are an attraction by themselves. They have chosen to set up shop in well known landmarks that have grandeur. By paying attention to the architecture and creating floor displays that accent the building itself, they will find that people will not only come from a distance to have a shopping experience- they will also not want to leave without taking something with them.