Retailers discuss delivering furniture and reassurance to customers

Walk into most bars and restaurants and the maskless patrons and workers make it appear our pandemic worries are over. Three furniture retailer delivery experts advised an HFA live Covid-19 Webinar audience last week not to believe that.

Carl Nyberg, COO of Home Furnishings Association member HOM Furniture in Minnesota, said the biggest issue with furniture delivery these days is resisting the urge to resume normal operations. “They’re still not normal and we have to keep all the safety procedures in place, social distancing,” said Nyberg. “You’re not just here trying to do business. We’re concerned about (our employees) and we’re concerned about customers and that we’ve got, you know, a good operating plan in mind.”

Nyberg was joined on the webinar by Charlie Workmon, president of Riverstone Logistics and executive vice president of Broad River Retail; and Riaz Husein of Profit Chain Consulting. The webinar was hosted by HFA Executive Vice President Mark Schumacher as part of the association’s ongoing Covid-19 webinar series for furniture retailers navigating the new economy.

HOM delivers furniture in five Midwestern states, which means five different methods of home delivery. Nyberg estimates that about 80 percent of the company’s home deliveries are delivered to the room of choice. The remaining 20 percent are labeled garage drop-offs.

HOM has redesigned its delivery software so that there are no touch forms for customers who opt for the drop-off service. “They don’t have to find or touch the forms anymore,” Nyberg said. “We email them receipts.”

It’s not just customers who need to be factored into delivery needs, said Workmon, of Broad River, the nation’s largest independently owned and operated Ashley HomeStore licensee. Your employees need to be taken into consideration, too. “By virtue of being in a cab together, (drivers) are not social distancing, so it really starts with entry into the building and understanding who’s getting into the cab of the truck and representing your brand,” he said.

Monitoring stations

That starts with temperature checks for employees and contractors who are representing your brand. “So it starts there with an understanding,” Workmon said, “if there is a symptom or symptoms, are there systems in place on your dock in addressing those and preventing this from continuing through the supply chain?”

Workmon said warehouse and delivery employees are encouraged to wash their hands regularly before and after deliveries. Disinfecting wipes are in the cab of every delivery truck, and delivery staff are encouraged to wipe down themselves and the cab after every delivery.

He said all delivery employees must wear masks in a customer’s home. He said his staff is reminded every day to keep their distance from customers in their homes so that customers don’t feel so uncomfortable they must ask for that distance themselves. “That obviously is a tricky practice and something that we talk about every morning, when we address our teams before letting them go out and make deliveries,” Workman said.

To hear the entire webinar, as well as other archived webinars designed to help furniture retailers in the new economy, go to HFA’s COVID-19 Recovery Resources page.

[E-commerce is here to stay, HFA members tell fellow retailers]

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