A product launch with a difference – functional oak furniture, a music video and a lot of snow.

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When we launched our newest collection this week, we didn’t just throw a launch party, we produced an entire music video about our products, brand and website.

We’d like to say a big thank you to all of our guests, they all braved the snow to join us on the evening of 21st January in Birmingham. Our guests had a night of music and entertainment, as well as the opportunity to be a part of the audience for our music video ‘Orders for Nothin’ and Clicks for Free’.  The music was provided by Johnny and the Waltones with frontman Bo Walton providing the vocals, and the song was written by our very own MD Henrik Pontoppidan.

The ‘Orders for Nothin’ refers to our ecommerce website and unique online selling concept. We not only design and distribute the furniture to retailers across the country, but give our dealers an online presence via our website www.stock2u.co.uk.

The idea came about after we joked about writing a song about the furniture, it was just as a fun way of getting our message out to retailers and consumers. 

The song also focuses on the functionality of the furniture, and the band was joined on stage by a Utah Oak 2 Drawer TV Unit and a Utah Oak Flexible Sideboard Desk. How many oak TV units can say they have their own song, and how many desks could potentially have a number one hit?!

The main aim was to record the promotional music video, but there was plenty of furniture on display. Launching at the event was our newest range, the rustic style Malvern Oak Collection, features of the Malvern Oak include 40mm thick grooveless tops, rounded corners and bronze look drop handles. New products from the Utah Oak Collection also made an appearance, the Utah is particularly known for its functional flexible features, such as DVD drawers on the TV units, an adaptable sideboard/desk and fully flexible wardrobes.

The band performed the song four times throughout the day for the film crew, the guests who braved the heavy snow and ice to attend were treated to the fifth and final performance. Our MD Henrik brought his own musical background to the show, and as well as writing he joined the band on guitar. The guests then enjoyed a full set from the band and an evening of music and dancing.

“we’ve heard of the company and wanted to come along and see them in person” was the comment from one of our guests, who then went on to order a full display of Malvern Oak. Another guest managed to sneakily take some footage on their phone, which they’ve since sent to us to use while they are waiting for the finished video.  

The music video is in post production, ready for release in the coming weeks. You can visit our Facebook page or keep an eye out here for updates on the video, and also to see what we  have in store for the rest of 2013.

 

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And our music video begins …

Rehearsals and the first stage of filming are underway for ‘Orders for Nothin’ and Clicks for Free’
If you’re at the Interiors Show come over to the Birmingham Airport Holiday Inn for 9pm (doors open at 8pm) to see the full song.

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To all furniture retailers: How to adapt to a new reality in 2013

Warm Wishes for a Happy and prosperous New Year to all friends in the industry.

There are those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. And then of course those who things happen to…

This year is all about adapting to a new reality – or indeed creating it! We invite you to join us in our efforts to give YOUR business better support than any Furniture Supplier has ever done. The more authorised dealers we have, the better each of them will fare. And joining our system helps you address all the issues needing addressing to adapt to the new reality – AND IT DOESN’T COST YOU A PENNY. You have everything to gain, and absolutely nothing to loose.

And this is the new reality in a nut shell: The Majority of the public is NOT buying furniture, until they have researched the internet. If you are not there, you are losing out. If you are there prominently, you are winning. If you are too expensive like-for-like, you will loose out. If you have something exclusively you are less price sensitive. There will undoubtedly be winners and losers again this year – perhaps more than ever before.

You can carry out a simple check list, – the more ticks, the better you will perform in 2013. But to perform WELL, ALL THESE BOXES NEED TO BE TICKED.

1) Do you have a strong online presense?

 If you are not ‘up there’ your business will suffer. Difficult, yes – But we help with this and generate online orders – all you need is an email address. As an authorised dealer, you have your own page on www.stock2u.co.uk which then becomes ‘your’ website

2) Do you have really good online presentations?

If your website gets found and your presentations are poor, all your marketing efforts and expenditure is wasted on telling people: ‘Don’t buy from us, we don’t really care…’ – But it’s so time consuming… Yes, that’s another reason why we tag your business on to our website and create really good presentations. Become an authorised S2U design dealer and this is done for you.

3) Are you able to offer your furniture at a competitive price level? 

– bearing in mind that the internet dictates the perceived value, as the public shops around online. So if you are a little too expensive, all you are saying online is: ‘We are a little too expensive’. Of course, if you are selling something different, which is not on every street corner, you are not as vulnerable.

Become and S2U Design Authorised Dealer and we have the system in place to make sure you can sell Unique, Exclusive (locally) Oak Furniture at a very competitive price level, whilst ensuring a good margin for you.

4) Is your supplier reliable

Let’s just assume that you have the best online presense, that your price level is competitive, that your furniture is popular, and of good quality. You have spent a lot of time, energy and money in making sure you get found, and that people actually order. But now you can’t deliver! ‘Cause your supplier lets you down. Well that’s a disaster. ‘Because when your efforts result in an order, then you have spent all the money on marketing, required to take that order. But now you loose it, so the marketing expenditure held to get the order is spent in vain.

Become an S2U Design Authorised Dealer, and you have the most reliable supply chain in the industry. This doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING is ALWAYS in stock – we all know that, unless your supplier only sells one or two items this cannot be achieved, ’cause what happens if one big order for one item wipes out your suppliers stock on one go?

What it means is that you can see on our real time website what is is stock, what’s due to arrive and when. So you never have to give false promises to your customer. And in addition, we do actually hold nearly everything is stock all the time.

Our lightest, brightest display cabinet ever!

New Utah Display CabinetThis is our brand new, in production, display cabinet. It’s designed by us, and has an oak frame with glass sides and glass shelves – it also has the option of LED spotlights (LED lights use a fraction of the electricity than regular lights).

It’s part of our Utah Oak Collection (our flagship range) and is a lovely streamlined unit, the style is  neutral to fit into many different types of home – it really is our lightest, brightest display cabinet ever!

The first sample has been signed off by Henrik, on his QC trip to Vietnam, and is now going into a full production run. It will be in stock, in the UK, in early to mid 2013, and will be one of the pieces on display at our party on 21st January. In fact I would say this is THE piece to come and see!

 

Party time 21st Jan in Birmingham, yes, but a dead serious agenda!

Register for our ‘Orders for nothing and Clicks for free’ event on 21st Jan 2013 – the best and most pleasant and exciting way to spend your Monday Evening when you are visiting the Interiors show.

But please do yourself a favour and read the background. It’s all about prosperity of YOUR business! Those of you who are or become dealers of S2U design – at no cost to you, no extra work, and no tie-ins, will get more business and happier customers. Those who don’t will lose the opportunity, as orders and customers, WE generate from their areas will go to their competition.

We really hope you can find a minute to read this, ‘cause when you have read it, you can see how it wouldn’t only BENEFIT your business to be part of our system – but for some of you, our system might well be THE key to long term prosperity for you business, or even survival!

Although we are inviting you to a ‘PARTY’ in connection with our video production on the evening of the 21st Jan, when the Interiors show is on at the NEC, we do have a dead serious agenda: We really want you to join us BECAUSE we really CAN bring back to good times for you by providing an easily selling assortment of oak furniture and COMBINE this with orders FOR you FROM the general public VIA the internet. 

The starting point of our philosophy is this:

The end user is king – without the end user loving and desiring the product, service, lead time, price/quality etc. they won’t be buying the product, and there are no orders for any member of the supply chain, the retailer, wholesaler, Factory, Sawmill etc. That means that even the best retailer with the smartest showroom in the world has no chance, if the products, lead time, price/cost, quality etc. doesn’t stack up – and these are all disciplines taken care of by other members of the supply chain. So when it goes wrong in the supply chain, the retailer becomes a VICTIM of other peoples poor practices.

Bearing this in mind, it is probably not surprising that Furniture Retailers often BEHAVE like victims: There is nothing I can do, things happen TO me, I just have to hope it picks up again.

When sales are sluggish, it’s not because of the recession! It’s not because of the weather! It’s not necessarily because your products are wrong! It’s not because people are not coming through the door! It’s not because your sales staff are not doing their job! It’s not because your advertising is poor!

It’s because somebody else out there is doing a better job managing their supply chain in such a way that their overall offering to the end user is better than yours. AND because nowadays they can get this message across via the internet – not to the 50,000 local people, i.e. the circulation of your local paper in which you advertise. But to 60 million people all over the UK!! Most of which embrace the internet as the only real source of info. Sorry, but this is reality – it’s happening before our eyes – it can be the sword that kills us, – or it can be the opportunity that saves us!

Well, our message is: Please realise WHAT is going wrong and then react and adapt. There is LOADS you can do. But it’s not easy.  That’s where we come in. We have a vision to combine the efforts of all retailers who WANT to prosper going forward, create a brand together, S2U design, WITHOUT putting loads of restrictions or costs on the retailers, as would be the case in a traditional franchise system.

We fill in the blanks in the supply chain – the disciplines outside of your control, but now it’s transparent, so that you can be part of a supply chain which WILL make your offer better – and better marketed online – than your competition. So in time, being a dealer will not just generate more business for you. It will improve your whole business’ reputation. And here is the best part: It’s free! It doesn’t require any EXTRA work on your part, and there is no risk involved, or at least less risk than sourcing product from random supply chains. In addition: There are no ties-in, you can leave at any time, if for whatever reason, you no longer want to take part. Of course the result would be that orders generated would go to a competitor of yours, so we doubt you would ever want to. That’s why we don’t need to tie you in. So in a nutshell, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  You cannot afford to lose the opportunity to be part of this. Please read on…

Your Furniture Stores

So you have one or more mortar and bricks store(s) with showroom from where you display and sell the furniture.
But you need to tell people about your business so you pay to advertise on the radio or in the local paper. Also, if you are an old reputable business, word of mouth and repeat customers may over time have reduced the need to ‘overspend’ on advertising. This all USED TO WORK and with consistent advertising, a loyal customer base would keep growing. BUT NOW IT’S SHRINKING no matter what you do….

Why? Because you are no longer just up against the other few high street retailers in your area. You are up against ALL 7,000 plus.. retailers in the country, ‘cause they are all addressing YOUR customer base online. Some of them are operating purely online with low overheads, some of them are bringing in huge volumes of furniture direct, some of them hold stock for delivery in 24 hours etc.. AND EVERY ONE OF YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS CAN POTENTIALLY FIND ALL OF THEM FROM THEIR LAPTOP. So for you to be competitive, you need to have a prominent online presence and a good ranking (i.e. being in top ten amongst many thousand) and you also need better offers online than the other 9 websites on page one. Until you have cracked this challenge, which of course requires more than just marketing (you also need to be part of a well oiled supply chain) you will keep losing business to competitors owning the top ranking websites.

Selling Online

Well, being in this game, you are up against Goliath: There are only so many spots on page one for a given key phrase, but for furniture alone there are 7,000 plus webmasters wanting to be there (boy, are we all fed up with this statement – but it’s true!). Here is the good news: We have cracked it for all of you who want to be part of our concept. We put resources into the online marketing, but we direct YOUR LOCAL CUSTOMERS TO YOU. So now www.stock2u.co.uk becomes your ecommerce website, for your local customers – and ‘local’ is defined by postcodes. Of course, this shouldn’t and doesn’t detract attention from your own online strategy. It is not meant to REPLACE your own website or online marketing, it is meant to ensure that you can reverse the vicious cycle of more than 7,000 competing websites taking your local business away from you.  Hey, maybe you do a better job than us online through your own website. If this is the case, we would be delighted for you – and we may want to ask you for a bit of advice. But this doesn’t change the fact that what we do is still a BONUS on top of your own well performing website(s) – more business for you, and it doesn’t cost you a penny! Can you really afford not to take this business? It’s business which is created regardless of what you do. If it doesn’t go to you, it goes to someone else.
The degree of success for this depends on how many of you want to come onboard and support it. Now, don’t worry about additional work, confusion, required skills, training, etc.. which often comes with ‘clever’ marketing ideas, online platforms and IT generally. Support in this connection only means that you are prepared to display and sell our fantastic furniture, after our website drives customers into your stores, either in person or electronically. All skills you need is how to manage your own email account. In addition, you will need to display our authorised dealer banner on your own website, which helps with the ranking of www.stock2u.co.uk. So the more dealers proudly display this banner on their site, the more traffic and orders you get – and in turn, the more members of the public will recognise the Brand, S2U Design, which is entirely in your interest.  

Branding

Well, this is another controversial issue – and the controversy is a direct result of what the internet is doing to the whole industry: Historically, if you could become an authorised dealer for a brand, you were sorted – e.g. Ducal, Lovelace, Westminster Pine, Corndell, Mr Copperfield, Silentnight, Stompa, Stag, Ercol, – The list is endless… These brands were recognised by the general public for quality, for style, for design, for service etc.. and this made it possible to take orders purely because you were the only, and protected, local dealer for a brand in your area, and therefore, you would naturally get the business from your local customers. Since the internet revolution, however, you are all de-branding, ‘cause if you don’t, your customers will be exploiting your nice showroom and advice, and find your stocked brand £5 cheaper on a competing website. But isn’t that just crazy!!? What it means is that you remove any perceived value from a product, and all products become just boxes with doors and drawers. You are all aspiring to the lowest denominator, the most boring parameter: Price!! Hey, this is not said to arrogantly pointing out something anyone is doing wrong. De-branding is absolutely necessary if you don’t want to be exploited in favour of a cheap online business. But here is the good news: Help us build the S2U design brand as an authorised dealer, and in due course (true brand building does take time) you can capitalise on exclusive local business and customer awareness and desire, which in turn translates into ‘easy’ orders.

Holding stock
OK, so there are two types of retailers – in our view the losers and the winners. The winners hold stock, buy direct in containers and can deliver immediately, usually at lower retail prices. The losers believe that they should order as little as one item at a time from a wholesaler, and only after they have an order from the public, who has paid partly or in full upfront. In this internet day and age it is not difficult to see who gets the business and who doesn’t. Also, it’s not difficult to see who is making enough margin and who isn’t. Just assume that retailer A holds stock, and buys bulk direct, and retailer B only orders from a wholesaler – at higher prices – what is pre-sold. Which of those two retailers will still be in business tomorrow??

Buying containers
So why  doesn’t every retailer just buy containers? Well, again, we all know the answer to that one: Because retailer B either doesn’t have the cash to buy containers, and/or considers the downsides of buying containers to be greater than the upsides. At Stock2u we are ensuring to minimise all the downsides – and more so than any other supplier out there – thereby helping you to adapt to the rules of the new reality we all live under. So what are the downsides of buying containers (which is absolutely necessary to survive)?

1)      The RISK of poor quality or, indeed, the wrong stock arriving – and by that time you have already paid something like £25K – This is not a concern when you buy containers from us. Our QC team on the ground produces a 30+ page report on EVERY batch going through production.

2)      The wrong MIX of product ordered – you do need a crystal ball to predict exactly what your customers want to buy in the future – Well yes, that’s a real issue – but we have already addressed that: You can top up from stock in Hereford when the odd item runs out sooner than expected.

3)      Delays – Delivery of your container may be put back time and time again, and a big part of your hard earned orders are cancelled as a result – Again, we have addressed that: What you order in containers is already sitting in our warehouse abroad awaiting your order. So your container will ship straight to you within 7 days of receipt of your deposit. Of course we also need a crystal ball to make sure we never run out of stock of the odd item. But you can see on our real time stock what is available to ship, and if it is not in stock, you can see when it’s coming in. That’s about as good as container ordering can be.

4)      Stock Value – Retailer B may already have burned their fingers by ordering a container, and quickly one item sells out, which in turn requires another container to be ordered, tying up more cash. So where the retailer originally budgeted with £30K in buy prices to be held in stock, before they know it, this has gone up to £100K, and the overdraft is going through the roof as a result – As explained above, you can top up from Hereford, so you could – essentially – sell a container completely out before you order the next one – items you sell out of, you can get from Hereford. You can also buy 20’ containers which is only app £8 – £10K worth of stock, and this can make it much easier to avoid this trap.

So there you have it: Buying containers from Stock2u is much less frightening and associated with less risk than from most, of not all other sources. But it gets better yet:

The risk is also significantly reduced by the sales support provided by the website. When you buy a 40’ container from any other supplier, it’s entirely up to you to sell it. If you don’t sell it in a reasonable time frame, it’s not as profitable as it should have been, and your warehouse may be overflowing. But we support your sales, – well, the marketing of your whole business – so your Stock2u container WILL be moving quicker as a result.

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Joining our concept comes with no risk, generates more business, and makes your business better equipped to prosper in the online arena, so what are you waiting for? Well, the obvious question is: Do the products stack up? Yes they do. Providing BETTER products is always on the agenda, and Oak Furniture from Stock2u come with a whole bunch of features and USP’s which are quite unique and exclusive to you, but that’s for a different blog article.

Any comment is very welcome. This is all about improving YOUR business, and like anything you do, you can take out what you put in.

 

Thanks for reading and hope to see you in Birmingham in January.