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How Our Digital World Will Impact the Window Furnishing Industry
By Cliff Stanley, CEO
Without question, we now live in a digital world. Lead by the digitally savvy, the internet age has created a sense of availability and immediacy never seen before. It has empowered consumers and changed the philosophy from "the consumer goes to the store, to the store comes to the consumer." While some of us still struggle with the change, we are now seeing the first truly digital generations enter the consumer market and the migration to digital “everything” is only going to accelerate.
With all of this change, what effects have we seen, and will we see on the window furnishing industry?
Firstly, we are seeing the majority of our customers start the buying process with online research. We know that our customers will be far more educated in advance about the products they want to buy, and will know the benefits and features that each product offers. We know that a digital presence, imagery and customer reviews will create an immediate perception of our business before a representative even has the chance to engage.
Secondly, we are seeing that the benefits of optimizing our digital presences are no longer an afterthought, creating a need for continual website and profile curation and management. Today businesses are using Search Engine Optimization and Review Management to improve their search rankings (or find-ability) and Customer Reviews (or credibility).
Finally, there is no question that the trend towards online shopping is inevitable, but it's also true that the design element and custom nature of window furnishings requires more due diligence than a pair of jeans, or a new iPhone.
With all the variables in our industry, we can expect to see three outlets for product sales, with each appealing to slightly different markets.
- Storefront Shopping- The customer’s desire to see and touch different colors, shapes, materials, and finishes will ensure the continued need for window furnishings stores. Customers can discern, and appreciate these details better when visiting a storefront.
- In Home Shopping- Sometimes, in store shopping is not enough, and the customer wants to see the products in their own space. When dealing with a custom product, the ability to see the product in the home, and have the assistance of a product specialist or designer in the space, is invaluable. It can shape the visualization of a project, resulting in larger sales and quicker close rates.
- Online Shopping- With the growing DIY market, online shopping is becoming more popular in our industry. This has allowed some businesses to take advantage of creating another storefront, but has also created new competition for others.
We believe that the digital world, does impact our industry and will continue to do so in the future, but we believe it has a positive effect. The new digital age provides our industry with more opportunity to reach customers, create vision and close a sale. We look forward to the innovations that the internet will bring forth, and welcome the opportunity to reach new customers, partners and create brand advocates.
Colorful Kitchen Trend
By Mindy Lamb, Marketing Manager USA
Gone are the days of stark white kitchens! With 2018 trends comes the introduction of pops of bold color and a shift in materials used in kitchens. From bold shutter colors to fun colorful furniture and appliances, kitchens designs are transforming into chic and sophisticated spaces meant to complement modern homes. Color rich materials such as copper, concrete and even granite are popping up in darker kitchen palettes to replace stainless steel appliances and white sinks. As a central meeting place in the house, a kitchen should promote high energy and togetherness. A pop of color or bold statement can offer just the atmosphere boost needed to keep your space central and inviting to all who enter.
Seen below are custom color shutters, furniture and appliances that bring these kitchens to life. Custom color green shutters update a traditional white kitchen, evoking a calm and environmental feeling to enjoy a cup of tea or great conversation. Custom color light blue shutters paired with colorful kitchen utensils and accessories create a playful environment where everyone is welcome. Looking for a simple update, adding a yellow rug and chairs to the traditional white and grey kitchen provides a facelift and creates an energetic and warm environment, where everyone can enjoy each others company. A neutral accent wall gives your favorite tablecloth the opportunity to be the star in your kitchen. Ready to be really bold? Try a dark kitchen wall with natural wood furniture for a modern yet inviting feeling.
Get your Fair Share of the Outdoor Market
By Dena Fitzgerald, CMO
Today outdoor living is more than just a few patio chairs scattered on the lawn. In recent years homeowners have begun to take the pursuit of outdoor living seriously, building extravagant outdoor kitchens, outdoor living rooms with interior decor, home entertainment centers, and fireplaces that mean business.
Who knows why there is this surge in outdoor living. Perhaps it is due to the advancement in technology in textiles which has allowed outdoor furniture to look and feel like our inside decor. Or perhaps it’s the European influence on our restaurants which are offering more outdoor dining, and persuading us to take it out outside too. Personally, I believe that it is because in today’s fast-paced, technology-packed lifestyles, we are seeking the outdoors for rest and relaxation to balance the scales, and become more connected to nature, and boost our sense of vitality. Regardless of why, there is no denying that there are more opportunities than ever before to sell some really lucrative products outside the home.
The outdoor living market is hot, and by all measures it is set for a another boom in 2018. Residential construction has the greatest influence on its growth, and its first quarter showed a 7% increase in single-family residential construction, a 12% increase in home improvement construction, and a forecast of a continuing rise. Architects continue to cite outdoor living spaces as one of the most desirable features for the home, and the deck and patio building industry continues to thrive. Selling outside the home is a profitable market. Outdoor cooking equipment has seen a resurgence in the last 5 years and together with outdoor furniture is now a $7 billion market.
Traditionally shutter dealers have done all of their sales inside the home focusing on window
treatments, however we have seen an increasing number of dealers getting their fair share of the outdoor market. We are seeing dealers getting more out of each sales call by not only making the sale on the interior window furnishings, but by selling products like TWO’s Weatherwell Elite, our aluminum patio shutter. The home owner is just as interested in decorating their patios, as they are their living rooms. Aluminum shutters can be used as privacy screens, weather protection, or as a louver system that totally encloses an outdoor space. The future says that homeowners will continue to blend indoor and outdoor spaces.
The question is, will you?
TWO Engineered Stiles
By Paul Lisle, Sales Manager
The Stile is the vertical part of the shutter frame. Stiles are routed to accommodate the louvres, and routed at the top to accommodate the mortise and tenon jointery. The stile is the backbone of the shutter. It provides stability to the shutter panel. While unseen, the technology inside of a TWO stile is what makes it the best in the industry.
One of the main issues with building stiles from a single piece of wood is that all of the wood grain is running in the same direction. Wood is always weakest along the grain. When wood expands or contracts due to weather it starts to warp or split along the grain.
Since wood is a natural material there are often other unseen variables that can cause a piece of wood to warp or split without any indication as to why this has happened. In order to prevent this from happening, TWO uses engineered stiles.
An engineered stile is made by placing thin strips of wood on top of each other with the wood grain running in opposite directions. They are then glued together. Finally with high heat and high pressure they are pressed together to make the core of the stile.
Due to this process engineered stiles are substantially stronger than a single piece of wood. As the wood expands and contracts, the opposing wood grain stabilizes the stile and prevents warping. This ensures that all TWO shutters have the highest level of consistency and stability.
Not only does an engineered stile add lifelong stability to the shutter panel, it also allows TWO to stay a green manufacturer. By using pieces of timber that would normally be discarded, TWO eliminates waste while building unparalleled quality into each shutter they make.