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Alert to Minnesota HFA members; Deadline nears

Minnesota furniture retailers have until Dec. 21 to ask to be included in a free and voluntary product-testing program for regulated flame retardants. The offer was issued in October by state government’s Chemicals in Products Interagency Team.

“The CPI Team is offering assistance with testing a selection of your products for levels of restricted flame retardants in advance of a July 1, 2019, deadline that those flame-retardants be under 1,000 parts per million in furniture and children’s products sold by retailers in Minnesota,” the state notice said. 

Four chemicals deemed to be potentially hazardous are covered.

The benefits of seeking the testing, according to the state, include verifying compliance of some products before the July 1, 2019, deadline, and generating “positive word-of-mouth from customers to potential future customers.”

Test results would be considered public records, Michelle Gin with the Health Risk Intervention Unit of the Minnesota Department of Health told the HFA. Results would not be posted on a state website, she said, but they would be made available to anyone upon request.

Retailers who request testing should consider whether they would want the results to be made public.

For more information about the program, or to apply, they can contact Michelle Gin of the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-4825.


How to Better Assist Mattress Shoppers Online

By: Kristy Esch, Senior Marketing Manager, PERQ

Mattress shoppers tend to start research online. Help guide consumers along with useful, personalized information on your retail mattress website to win them over. Try to give people reasons to feature the products you sell on their guides on how to choose the best mattress as this will attract people directly to your site!

Mattress shoppers Bryant and Cassi Magnus researched new mattresses online for six months, evaluating different styles, brands and consumer reviews to see which was the right queen mattress for them. The couple wanted a bigger bed to accommodate their expanding family, but were also motivated by sleep problems. Bryant suffered stiffness upon waking, the painful toll of working a physically demanding job as owner and lead technician at a pest control company. If you are thinking about getting a new mattress for your bed, then you might be interested in checking out something like this costco queen mattress, however, before you commit to anything then you should make sure that you make sure that you have the right mattress to you.

They visited several mattress showrooms but said the experience left them weary, describing the in-person mattress shopping encounters as generic and not very educational. Cassi says the mattress sales teams instructed them to lay on different models and asked which one was better, instead of helping them figure out which mattress might alleviate Bryant’s discomfort.

Many mattress shoppers face specific sleep issues like Bryant and want an expert opinion on how they can sleep better by buying the right bed. Guide them through the sales journey and address their literal and figurative pain points with helpful, personalized information online.

Mattress Shoppers Seek Solutions to Solve Sleep Problems

A month after welcoming their first baby, the Magnuses bought a mattress on Amazon. While they did research on multiple mattress store websites before purchasing from the e-commerce titan, Cassi says the retail sites weren’t informative or helpful.

“Most were just selling stuff,” she says, adding that she wished she could have found personalized guidance and research when searching online. “It certainly would have helped.”

With so many online mattress-buying options now available to consumers, it’s critically important for brick-and-mortar mattress stores to assist shoppers who visit their websites as they decide which mattress type fits their sleep needs and which retailer showrooms to visit.

“Mattresses are a really personal purchase for people, and there are all kinds of ways mattresses can play a role in helping you sleep better,” says Doug Stump, national sales director at PERQ, a technology company that works with home furnishing retailers to improve their existing websites by creating an interactive online shopping experience. “Try to engage the consumer to discover some of this on their own. People are expert researchers, so give them online tools to use and some guidance that will really help.”

Real estate broker Dave Bell of Indianapolis says he did “tons” of online research before buying a new mattress from Mattress Firm in March. “I had a lot of stiffness, neck and back pain, with restless nights sometimes,” Bell says.

Using consumer reviews to evaluate quality and narrow his options, Bell then tried out multiple mattress brands at a recent home show. Armed with more information on his options, he says he visited mattress store showrooms during slow business hours so he could get better service and individualized attention. Ultimately, he found a comfortable mattress and says he feels much better in the morning.

When asked if he found mattress retailer websites helpful, Bell says the sites didn’t offer him much research assistance up front. “I find so much changes between mattress purchases that it’s difficult to know where to start and what to look for,” he explains. “It’s a big decision, no matter the cost, that will affect my overall health and performance if I can’t get a good night’s rest. You have to do your homework.”

Give Helpful Information to Guide Mattress Shoppers

Jeff Giagnocavo and Ben McClure, owners of Gardner’s Mattress & More in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, prove it’s in a retailer’s best interest to educate and help consumers before trying to sell them a mattress. The business partners not only used this marketing tactic to turn around Gardner’s plummeting sales amid the country’s economic collapse, they then started Automatic Mattress Profits so others could emulate their successful sales strategy.

As a coaching and consulting service, AMP helps independent retailers increase sales by using an “information-first retailing” model that includes mattress buyer guides they created. Consumers can download a guide from a participating retailer’s website, which both empowers the mattress shopper and builds trust in that store by being helpful for free. In return, mattress stores collect lead data when the potential customer enters their contact information to download the guide.

“Focus on how a mattress fits their sleep needs first and shift price further down the line in importance,” Giagnocavo advises. “We allow our clients to help before they sell.”

Personalize the Mattress Shopping Process

To complement their mattress guides, Gardner’s Mattress added the PERQ Online Guided Shopping Solution to the store’s existing website a year ago. They’ve since become a reseller of the software, recommending it to AMP’s mattress retailer clients.

Ben McClure says the most successful online PERQ tool the store implemented is an interactive mattress assessment “What Mattress Style is Best for You?” that helps the store understand each customer’s individual sleep needs so they can propose the best product.

It also gives the store in-depth lead information on any consumer who goes through the experience, so they can personalize follow-up emails and address a customer’s specific needs when they visit the showroom.

“Try to help guide mattress shoppers and give them a starting point based on what they’re trying to achieve,” Doug Stump says. He often hears from furniture store owners that shoppers bring their mattress assessment results to the store when ready to buy.

“If you don’t have any kind of research tools on the website, people just end up looking at all kinds of mattresses,” Stump says. “Most are not comfortable walking into a store blind to talk about a $2,000 purchase with an aggressive salesperson.”

That’s exactly how consumer Cheryl Toomey feels. She’s considering buying a new mattress to improve her sleep. “I have a lot of problems sleeping. I don’t know if it’s my mattress but it certainly could be a big factor,” says Toomey, who realized her old bed may be the problem after going on vacation. “I slept like a dream.”

Toomey recently bought a couch, and when shopping at home furnishing stores she saw just how many mattresses are on the market since she last bought one. “Mattresses are not cheap,” she says. “I don’t want to go in and pay a big chunk of money, and then not be happy with it.”

5 Quick Ways to Help Mattress Shoppers

For many, it’s been a decade or longer since they bought a new bed. The plethora of choices can overwhelm even the savviest consumer. Provide expert sleep advice to help mattress shoppers as they begin researching mattresses online.

  1. Start the Conversation Online

Make your website the store’s best salesperson. Guide them through the sales process with helpful research and calls to action like a free sleep consultation or coupon. Collect website visitor lead data and use it to continue the conversation when they come into the showroom.

  1. Assess Sleep Preferences

Learn as much as possible about each customer’s sleep preferences, so you can give advice on the best mattress types to meet their individual needs. Offer an online assessment to find out what sleep problems you can help them solve.

  1. Educate Mattress Shoppers

Provide educational materials on your website to assist consumers who want to research their options before visiting a local showroom and talking to a salesperson. It gives shoppers more confidence and they’ll have a better idea of what they want.

  1. Engage Consumers

To stand out among the online competition, create engaging website experiences that keep consumers on your site longer and build trust in your brand. Don’t expect shoppers to sift through endless pages of irrelevant inventory. Create interactive content to engage shoppers.

  1. Give Personalized Advice

We’re all too busy to pay attention to generic retail messaging. Get a consumer’s attention by employing smart technology that delivers personalized content based on what a shopper views on the website. Follow up with online visitors with a phone call or email thanking them for taking the time to look at your website and personally invite them to visit the showroom.

Home Furnishings Association Announces New Member Program with PERQ

Dan McCann
800-422-3778 X115

Roseville, CA (September 18, 2017) – Today the Home Furnishings Association (HFA) and PERQ announced a strategic partnership to provide PERQ’s technology platform to HFA retail members at negotiated discounts.

Enjoy the PERQ’s

PERQ’s technology platform provides a web engagement tool that helps retailers win the website experience the same way they try to win the showroom experience, through personalized, one-to-one interaction. Consequently, PERQ’s interactive experiences generate excitement and engagement. This is done by providing the kind of shopping assistance today’s consumers expect from every website they visit. Most importantly, they facilitate a higher conversion of website visitors to in-store sales.

The program brings HFA members proven technology that creates a unique online experience and helps them stand out against other furniture websites. As a result, retailer websites using PERQ’s web engagement platform are collecting 5x more consumer data. As well, they are experiencing a 50-200% lift in website conversions.

What People Are Saying:

“PERQ offers HFA members the opportunity to enhance their website presence with a very personal curated shopping experience. The goal is to convert online shoppers to in-store traffic. We are very excited to add this consumer engagement technology to the  suite of business  programs HFA offers its membership,” said Sharron Bradley, CEO for the Home Furnishings Association.

“We’re thrilled to become part of the HFA ‘family’ and know that being an HFA partner will enable us to work closer with furniture retailers to help transform their existing websites into truly successful marketing platforms,” said Scott Hill, PERQ’s co-founder. “What we do for our retailer partners is really very simple: we enable them to replicate successful showroom tactics online, engaging consumers by creating one-to-one conversations and personalizing their shopping experiences – which results in moving them down the buying funnel and bringing them into showroom.”

In conclusion, PERQ works hard to quantify the results for its customers. PERQ gives them the data they need to understand how much business can be attributed to their website (see recent case study here). To learn more about this new HFA member program contact HFA at 800.422.3778 and press 1 to talk to your membership representative.

Recovery from Harvey and Irma: Where Do You Start?

HFA information contact:
Dan McCann
Director of Marketing & Communications
800.422.3778 X115

As people are beginning to return to their homes and businesses along the Gulf Coast and Florida to assess the aftermath of Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma – from wind damage to the unprecedented flooding, HFA has coordinated a list of resources to guide your recovery and assist in assessing damages.

  • The Red Cross provides a checklist of items to have on hand when returning to your home or business, in addition to basic tips for recovery.
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) walks you through advice about remaining vigilant when it comes to health and safety in potentially perilous conditions. Click here for more information.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has put together a comprehensive resource guide that is frequently updated and covers topics such as safety, price gouging and ways you can seek or provide assistance.
  • FEMA, which oversees the National Flood Insurance Program, also offers a guide to help you through that claims process.
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters. Click here for details.
  • FEMA, also provides small business disaster grants. Click here for more information.
  • National Public Radio (NPR) has put together a list of resources for those looking help to people affected by Harvey.
  • WTXL ABC 27 affiliate had put together a list of resources by county for Florida Hurricane Irma victims

HFA members affected by Hurricane Harvey are encouraged to contact their membership services representative to discuss how HFA will assist you and your business. 800.422.3778 press 1

5 Key things I learned in this week’s webinar- GOOGLE It and be First Online

Tim McLain, Segment Marketing Manager for Netsertive, a digital advertising technology company, delivered an impactful webinar this week. He talked about the way consumers are utilizing GOOGLE to make their purchases, what kind of searches they are doing at each stage of the shopping process and how to get buyers to buy from you specifically. Below are five of the many takeaways I discovered in this webinar.


“When looking for ideas on what to buy… 68% of consumers turn to YouTube.” Google owns Youtube and by doing simple 2-5 minute cell phone videos in your store on new product, demos or tips for care and placing them on your own YouTube channel can help increase clicks on your website or customers to your store.


“Mobile is the shopping assistant, 82% of smartphone users turn to their devices to help them make a product decision when in the store.” No longer be afraid of showrooming. Studies now show that consumers are now webrooming. Going to your store and pulling out their phone to educate themselves on features and benefits and this has led to higher close rates and average tickets.


“When consumers are looking for the best store, 79% expect a retailer to be flexible and offer multiple ways to purchase with a smartphone. If a customer is really ready, they like to buy online and then pick it up in the store. Make sure you have this offer available.


“Take control of your own Google My Business Listing.” Verify your business information is correct, your pin and map is right and change it as necessary. With the Google posts feature, you can even display sales, events and offers, its FREE and you can replace as often as you want!


“One of the top five calls to action that will convert to sales; use a dollar savings ($1,500 off) vs a percentage off (20% off).” Consumers like to see cash savings when making a decision to visit!

To view this webinar in its entirety, click here.

Home Furnishings Association hosts WEBINAR WEDNESDAY’s

Upcoming webinars:

August 30 Run your Distribution Center like a Pro

September 13 Learning Versus Training

September 27 5 Ways to Drive in-Store Sales from Your Website

October 11 Increasing Sales by Increasing Web Traffic

To register click here for details.