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References

For more long-term strategy, Thelma should propose the CEO to form
small projects to try out “store within store” model by renting store spaces to
other vendors thru strategic partnerships. To reduce the real estate footprint
and maximize the asset utilization, try out modular furniture studio by lowering display
of similar items, using the technology of
3D imaging for customers to explore different products. At the same time expand
the view corridors and listing posts to be on exploitation and exploration mode
at the same time to tap into future opportunities and threats much earlier.   

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Thelma’s as the chair of the board should propose
to proceed on areas where the company has competitive advantages to capitalize
on quick-wins and get the core of the business to get on with execution. By
aggressively marketing and increasing sales force for B2B sales to new home
developments and builders by offering home installation services, At the same
time new home buyers with discounts for appliance upgrades and long-term
warranties at reduced rates, through builder’s new home welcome package offers. Improve Ralph’s furniture online presence and the ability for a customer
to store pickup and return online purchases to the store cashing in on
customer’s instant gratification. Training the sales force on more in-depth
knowledge of products to act as product experts and customer advisers to create
a unique value proposition for the customers. Combine and form a more holistic
inventory system to use stores as mini-warehouses and shipping hubs.    

Ralph’s furniture still has advantages given the kind of product it
sells, big-ticket items like furniture, big-screen TVs, and electronics that
many customers still prefer to buy in the store.
Thelma should focus on a business model which will revolve around offering a
unique value proposition to the customer by providing cohesive shopping
experience rather than just competing on prizes.   

Recommendations

Technology has immense power to solve the problems by merging
Ralph’s online and store inventory systems to use stores as mini-warehouses to
ship the products to the customers within nearby area reducing shipping costs
and overall inventory management, treating central warehouse and store
inventory as holistic stock.

By talking to on-floor sales employees, They
should gather insights on their challenges serving the customers. Arming sales
employees with sophisticated tools and superior product knowledge together with
lucrative incentives based on the final sales (considering returns). At the
same time making sure they are not confronting, pressuring or shaming the
customer to buy from the store instead acting as product experts and advisers
when customers need them. It will make sure the sales force of Ralph’s furniture
is more engaged with customers providing them with a cohesive shopping experience
as a unique value proposition.

            Start with discounted home installation
service for new sales and repair services for out of warranty items, where Ralph’s furniture would not be competing with
online retailers. It is their space to exploit.     

            Ralph’s
furniture needs to up their game on B2B sales by aggressively marketing to future
home and condo development builders by offering value propositions; which are
beneficial to the builders as well as their new home buyers. Providing discount
coupons for upgrading or buying new appliances and furniture. Including soft
perks such as no hassle long-term warranties on reduced prizes, on-site repair
services, free disposal, and charity donation service of old furniture, mattress,
and appliance on the purchase of similar new items from Ralph’s furniture.

            Ralph’s furniture starts exploring a
line of unique and exclusive offerings with strategic partnerships
with vendors and manufacturers so that
the only way to get a specific product is through them and never to be found
online or anywhere else. Also explore the options of “store within a store,” by virtually
renting space out to other vendors extracting rents as well as some fees based
their sales revenue acting partly as a real estate property owner. Strick deals
with excellent electronics and appliance companies like Samsung, Sony, LG, Apple, etc.. to feature their products in branded
areas within Ralph’s furniture stores, allowing them to set up their kiosk creating new revenue stream at the same time increasing
customer turnout to the shops.

            Ralph’s
furniture also needs to be aggressive with their online presence with the goal
to allow customers to buy products with their preferred channel. Ralph’s furniture
has a unique advantage over online retailers by offering customers same day
store pick-up or returns of online orders to the store, cashing in on instant customer
gratification. Let the store serve as communication center and showroom
for Ralph’s furniture website and mobile application. Finding multiple points
of connecting with customers will increase customer loyalty and will entice
customers to spend more. In this omnichannel
world, the store will operate more like a marketing tool to create a buzz and
a way to provide service rather than an only
way to ensure the service.

The key to confronting the challenge will
be to exploit the advantage Ralph furniture stores have in their physical
connection with the shoppers is by upping their service quotient, improving the
level of service they provide to the customers. Building
trust and create buzz for shoppers to come into their stores more
frequently. Implement techniques to have a greater understanding of the customers
and acting more like help desk or solution center
staff. The most significant advantage
Ralph’s furniture has is the real estate and customer presence in the store.
First and foremost, price-matching to
online retailers will be vital in
retaining and growing customer base and traffic to the store.

Available Options to Combat Showrooming

            For Thelma Clark and CEO Stanley, at Ralph’s furniture superstore it is crucial to understand the detailed effects of
showrooming on Ralph’s stores, at the same time exploiting the competitive
advantages Ralph furniture has against online retailers to devise a winning
business model for the future. Given that it is not an urgent problem. They have
some time on their hands to try out specific options for a short period to move into a planned change with a thoroughly thought out business model and
strategy to compete. They will have to first look at all available options to
combat showrooming, prioritizing the top opportunities
based on their anticipated value addition to the company, formalizing them into
small projects to try them out on a small scale
as pilots and wait for the results before implementing them on a bigger scale. This
battle must be fought on multiple dimensions simultaneously, be it improving customer
service, increasing own online presence, exploring opportunities for new
revenue streams, maximizing returns on asset utilization by utilizing the
stores space more innovatively, cost-cutting,
efficient operations, and most importantly identifying the unique value proposition for the customers.  

The phenomenon where more and more customers (especially
millennials) are using brick and motor stores to evaluate and research products
and ultimately buy the products from the online retailers such as Amazon at
reduced prize is called “Showrooming.” Customers
benefit from using the brick and motor store to evaluate product attributes
which are not digital by getting their look and feel in real time. This
shopping technique is resulting in brick and motor store losing potential customers and adversely
impacting store profitability. Ralph’s furniture has reported 700K losses in
recent quarterly results.

Ralph’s
Furniture Challenge

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