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Walmart & IKEA Expand At-Home Assembly Services
The Power Of Post-Sale Customer Service
Two major retail giants are boosting their post-purchase services in the coming months in hopes of fighting back against the growing e-commerce competition. Starting next month, Walmart will offer home installation and furniture assembly from 2,000 of its brick-and-mortar locations — and IKEA has similar plans to expand its in-home furniture assembly offerings in more of its locations throughout the country as well. While the importance of creating a meaningful in-store shopping experience has been discussed at length, the value of post-purchase services is increasing - as these benefits are a major consideration for many consumers. This is good news for retailers who may struggle to see the value of transforming their brick-and-mortar store into an experiential shopping playground. Instead, more traditional sellers can still benefit by enhancing their post-sale benefits - and bringing customer service into people’s homes.
Walmart’s at-home furniture assembly is already offered in 25 Atlanta locations, where shoppers can opt to purchase this service at check-out. The retailer teamed up with home services app Handy to fulfill these requests. For just $59, consumers can schedule an at-home appointment, between 7am and 11pm, with a Handy worker who is backed by the retailer’s “Handy Happiness Guarantee.” Similarly, IKEA offers at-home furniture assembly via TaskRabbit - another on-demand home services app that the retailer purchased back in September. Currently available for online sales in select markets, IKEA has plans to expand this option to more physical locations as well. The price for the service starts at $36 and is based on a flat rate per item type.
These moves are likely part of the retailers’ attempt to combat Amazon and Wayfair, which have both been steadily gobbling up more share of the furniture market in recent years. According to data from eMarketer, online sales of furniture and home furnishings hit $42.6 billion in 2017 - a more than 20% increase from the year prior. As e-commerce sellers can usually beat their traditional retail counterparts on price and ease-of-purchase, many brick-and-mortar stores are looking to create new value around more hands-on amenities. Today’s retailers need to look beyond the products they sell and take care to invest in the services they offer alongside them. According to Euromonitor’s 2017 Retail Trend Report, the post-purchase customer service experience is becoming increasingly important to shoppers—and serves as a valuable opportunity for retailers’ to create a more loyal relationship with their customers.
“To satisfy and retain customers, more products and services come with a type of built-in offer of post-purchase assistance,” the report notes. “This is linked to an emerging definition of convenience going beyond fulfilling customer needs to actually predicting them — including the post transaction period.”
While mattresses do not tend to require as much assembly as other furniture items, there are plenty of ways that bedding retailers can offer more robust post-purchase services:
- Easy, affordable delivery and drop-shipping
- At-home adjustable base assembly
- Old mattress removal and recycling
- Extended delivery and set-up scheduling hours to better accommodate people’s busy lives
Whether offered as a complimentary benefit or as a strategic add-on purchase, these post-purchase services deliver added convenience to consumers and can even help retailers differentiate themselves from the major ecommerce players. By promoting these offerings, retailers are communicating a higher level of care for their customers - proof that they are really making an effort to make their buying process easier and more enjoyable, from start to finish.
The Conversation Around Sleep Is Shifting - And It’s Selling
Make sleep cool again? While manufacturers continue to enhance their technologies to make sleep temperatures cooler, sleep is also becoming cool - as in trendy and sought-after. A number of consumer behaviors and shifting attitudes are transforming both the industry and our collective perception of how sleep impacts and improves our lives. Here’s a quick overview of what’s turning the tides on sleep, making the tools to enhance sleep hot commodities in the market.
With the growing popularity of organic “superfoods,” natural make-up products, yoga and meditation and an overall focus on self-care in 2017, sleep has naturally become a part of the conversation around being holistically well and happy. As such, products that help people achieve better sleep and, therefore, fuller living have gained traction. In addition, consumers have become more attuned to the behind-the-scenes of how products are made and how they impact the environment. It’s not just yogis concentrating on sleep though, for years studies have shown that a lack of sleep can contribute to serious health issues. According to the New York Times, the CDC even considers the condition of sleeplessness to be a mental health concern. So, while the wellness craze may seem like a passing trend, serious research is being conducted to more deeply understand how sleep works and how we can improve it.
Marketers have latched onto the idea of selling better sleep as a wellness tool rather than simply a new mattress, but these marketing tactics aren’t really gimmicks. Customers are demanding greater transparency and looking for brands in which to put their trust. They want to know how and with what materials products are made and brands like OMI, PureCare, Kingsdown and others are delivering. In response to the desire to remedy the sleeplessness epidemic, brands are bringing in sleep scientists and using safer materials to develop science-based solutions that improve sleep quality and quantity. The dedication to better health and wellness can come with a cost though and as a result, the ability to afford the tools and invest the time to achieve better sleep is evolving into a status symbol. Gwyneth Paltrow’s philosophy of “clean sleep” from GOOP, her modern lifestyle brand, has also contributed to this association between sleep, health and wealth. But really, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to improve your sleep hygiene – though it may feel pretty luxurious anyway.
Cozy Nights In
Another contributing factor to the growing consumer interest in sleep and bedding products comes in part, from millennials. More young people are spending more time at home, bingeing on Netflix, hosting game nights - and in order to create a cozy environment, they are increasingly investing in quality pillows, blankets and better mattresses to create the perfect nest-like sleep environment. While eCommerce brands are seeing an up-tick in orders, large retailers are also investing more time and attention to their bedding selection. Of course, there’s the new Allswell line from Walmart, but Macy’s has also brought Made in Green by Oeko-Tex traceable labels to select private brand textile products in its home collection, helping consumers know exactly what they are outfitting their bedrooms with.
Awareness of these trends in both sales conversations and in stocking decisions will help retailers remain competitive and meet the needs of their consumers. Retailers would do well to mirror manufacturers in being transparent, honest, resourceful and helpful – continually bringing in products that can genuinely improve the lives of their shoppers.
How A To-Do List May Help You Fall Asleep Faster
When struggling to fall asleep at night, people often have a number of tricks up their sleeves - whether they turn to relaxing music, essential oils or prescription pills. But a new research study suggests that the real trick to falling asleep faster may require a pen and pencil. According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, writing a to-do list before you go to bed may help you sleep better at night.
Research has previously shown that the act of writing down worries can help people minimize their overall stress levels in general, helping them relax and work more efficiently. Looking to examine if this practice could have a positive effect on sleep as well, psychologists at Baylor University recruited 57 healthy adults, ranging in age from 18 to 30, for a sleep study. Half of the participants were asked to spend five minutes writing down “everything you have to remember to do tomorrow and over the next few days” — giving them the option of writing out bullet points or paragraphs. The other half of the group was asked to write out a list of tasks they had already accomplished in recent days.
Because the study took place in a lab, the researchers were then able to use polysomnography to track the participants sleep via brain-wave activity, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, breath and eye and leg movements. On average, the people who wrote a to-do list fell asleep nine minutes faster than those who wrote down things they had already accomplished. The people who opted to write their to-do lists in more extensive detail fell asleep 15 minutes faster than everyone else.
From this data, the researchers have theorized that the act of writing down future tasks makes it easier to fall asleep because it lets your brain off the hook. When you’re worried about all of the things you have to do the next day, you tend to cycle through a mental to-do list - which makes it hard to relax enough to fall asleep. By writing out a to-do list, you are reassuring your brain that you won’t forget about any of the tasks - alleviating the stress that keeps people awake at night.
“We think that when people offload everything in their mind that might be hard to remember otherwise, it gives them some relief from that rumination,” says lead author Michael Scullin, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University.
While nine or even 15 minutes of extra shut-eye may not seem life-changing - it does add up over time. And for people looking to make the most of their sleeping hours, the to-do list trick may have other benefits as well. While not backed by scientific research, anecdotal reports have theorized that you can actually train your brain to continue problem solving on a specific task while you sleep. Known as “structured unconscious generative ideation” or more colloquially as “sleep-storming,” the idea is to think about a problem you’re stuck on before you go to sleep—writing down the details along with an “intention” to make the solution clearer. When you wake up in the morning, your brain just might have come up with a few new ideas during the night. So even if you’re just looking to fall asleep faster, the habit of keeping a nighttime to-do list may even help you become a more creative problem-solver as well.
The beauty of this “sleep hack” is that it is both easy and free - which means anyone can try it out. For retailers looking to offer more sleep education tips to their customers, this is a great place to start. A branded “nighttime to-do list notebook” could be a clever way to not only help your customers improve their sleep and get the most out of their new mattress — but it might just keep your store fresh in their mind long beyond the sale as well.
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