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Are smaller living spaces to blame for slumping Pottery Barn sales?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Pottery Barn sales are down after 30 years of growth, yet sister company West Elm is killin’ it – but why?

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30 years of sales growth, now this?

With brick and mortar retailers closing shop left and right, it’s hard to be surprised that Pottery Barn – your suburban mom’s favorite décor store – has hit a bump in an otherwise smooth road. Excluding the Great Recession, the home furnishings chain has had over thirty years of solid sales growth, ever since it was acquired in 1985 by Williams-Sonoma.

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But recently, Williams-Sonoma reported that the Pottery Barn brand has seen a 1.4 percent downturn in comparable sales (online and at stores that have been open for over a year) over the past three months.

This marks the fourth consecutive quarter of decreasing sales for the furniture emporium.

On the other side of the retail success coin, there’s sister brand West Elm, which is absolutely killing it with the upper-middle-class millennial crowd, and boasts quarter after quarter of insane growth.

What’s going wrong with Pottery Barn?

Well, size matters. If you’re an urbanite with a tiny apartment or condo, a lot of Pottery Barn’s rustic-traditional offerings literally won’t fit in your space (or up your stairs, or through your doorway). And even if you can manage to fit that giant furniture into your small space, you likely want it to be more than just furniture – it should offer the storage space that tiny apartments often sorely lack. Bed frame? Cool, where are the drawers? Coffee table – without a shelf, what’s the point?

“We know that the opportunity is often size, because as people move to smaller living arrangements and the urbanization happens, the large-scale furniture is difficult,” said Laura Alber, Chief Executive of Williams-Sonoma.

Pottery Barn on the tiny track

In February, Pottery Barn set out to address the scale issue by introducing more pieces designed with small spaces in mind, and on Wednesday executives said those pieces earned “strong demand” in the last quarter. So if Pottery Barn keeps on that tiny track, will they be fine?

Maybe not. No matter how space-efficient that dining table is, if it’s perceived to be overpriced, no one is going to want it. Thorough customer research last year found that non-loyal Pottery Barn customers saw the brand as “expensive, too predictable, and not for them,” said Alber.

Luring millennials without alienating boomers and Gen-Xers will be tricky, as will remaining “aspirational” while hitting some lower price points.

It seems like there are plenty of competitors at both the high and low end of Pottery Barn’s reach, and maybe that middle ground is just destined to dissolve. Is another type of retail downfall on the horizon that can be blamed on our shifting space preferences?

#PotteryBarn

Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films - preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. COLLEEN

    May 29, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    LET ME JUST TELL YOU WHY SALES ARE SLUMPING AT POTTERY BARN. fIRST THEY ARE PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST INFLEXIBLE COMPANIES I HAVE EVERY ORDERED FROM. NOT ONLY ARE THEY DIFFICULT THEY ARE RUDE AND EVERYONE OF THEIR SALES PERSONS LOOK AS IF THEY HATE THEIR JOB. GOING TO THE STORES IS USELESS BECAUSE THEY DON’T CARRY ANTHING IN THEIR STORE THAT THEY HAVE ON-LINE AND CAN’T HELP YOU. SO WHY YOU ASK ARE THEY DECLINING IN THEIR SALES THEY ARE OUTDATED, JUST LIKE PENNEYS, MACYS AND SEARS HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING TO ADDRESS THE CUSTOMERS NEEDS.

  2. Christina

    May 31, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    I agree with the comment above! I think their Customer Service policies are to blame for their slumping sales. I vowed to stop using Pottery Barn last year after having many issues with their policies time and time again.

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Business News

New company beats Amazon with next morning delivery?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Amazon has a new competitor in South Korea: Coupang, with faster shipping than Prime.

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What if I told you Amazon Prime’s, 1-3 day guaranteed delivery time isn’t the fastest e-commerce service the world has to offer? You would think I’m lying right?

Coupang, one of the world’s fastest delivery services located in South Korea, allows you to order any item, anytime before midnight, promising that it will be at your doorstep by 7am! (I wasn’t lying!) With 70% of its employees living within a 10 minute radius of a Coupang center, 80% of residents residing in populated cities and 95% of it’s population owning a smartphone, South Korea has become the perfect e-commerce epicenter. Coupang employees over 10,000 people who together deliver 99.3% of all orders within 24 hours. Imagine it’s Tuesday night, you’re falling asleep and suddenly remember you forgot to get your wife a present for her 50th birthday tomorrow. You have two options: accept your fate of being put in the dog house for three long weeks, or quickly order a few great items off Coupang’s website that’ll be delivered BEFORE she even wakes up!

Like Amazon, Coupang allows its customers to create a profile, store desired products in a list, and check out using your saved payment method. Half of South Korea’s total population of 51.6 million has installed Coupang’s app with a surge of people trying Coupang for the first time during stay at home orders due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The company struggled to meet fulfillment demands, especially those including PPE, household cleaning products, and children’s necessities. While many companies are struggling to stay afloat, Coupang is quickly adapting to meet consumer demands. In March, the company opened a new logistics center to expand its overnight/same day delivery services and is currently working to reach an even broader population.

Believe it or not, right before Coupang received a $2 Billion investment from SoftBanks, its founder, Kim Bom debated walking away from it all. Bom founded the company in 2010, receiving the investment in 2018 and is expected to pursue an IPO by the end of 2020. So for all of you entrepreneurs wondering if you should give up on that decade long dream…DON’T. Coupang went from selling a few hundred items each day to 3.3 million. Now that’s what you call entrepreneurism!

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Google plans to pay publishers for content (a little too late)?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Google will finally pay publishers for news, but only a few, and they have to meet Google standards.

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I mean…could you get any greedier Google? (Chandler Bings voice).

After years and years of pressure and complaints from publishers that Google’s search feed doesn’t properly recognize them or the news they work so hard to report, Google has finally announced that they will begin to pay publishers for content. But only some.

WHAT A LOAD OF BS.

According to the News Media Alliance, Google profited 4.7 BILLION in 2019 as a search engine for the news industry. So now, not only is Google fleecing its content providers and the writers who are working to create material for them, but it’s quite likely that Google’s algorithm is pushing paid news to the top of its search feed. What does this mean for users? It means that for one, you will see what they want you to see, but most importantly, it means that Google HAS the money to pay its publishers but chooses not too!

Google’s announcement to start paying publishers excludes all publishers outside Brazil, Germany, and Australia. Even within the countries that Google closed a deal with, there are many that do not meet its “high quality content” requirement for a paid position. The problem with all this nonsense is that we stopped letting the news come from others like us, and instead, according to the U.S News Media Alliance, the news is entirely owned by a handful of companies. You may have 635 channels on your TV, but if you google…or maybe you should duck duck go it, you’ll find that all those channels lead back to one huge organization.

SO WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

Google has definitely been pressured to make some big changes, and while paying publishers is a good first step in the right direction, is it enough to make up for years of damage?

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Business News

International start up turns LinkedIn profiles into resumes

(BUSINESS NEWS) Rezi is an AI driven app that can turn LinkedIn profiles into resumes within minutes. Save time and optimize your chances of getting noticed.

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If you have already put work into creating your LinkedIn profile, you can parlay that into a resume with a plug-in download and a few clicks thanks to the AI-powered resume builder, Rezi. The company started as a weekend project in 2015 by CEO and Founder, Jacob Jacquet, to address the challenges his recently-graduated friends were having with writing hirable resumes.

According to the Rezi website, the company began by studying resumes and how they interacted with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which companies use to manage online applications. Rezi wanted to educate job seekers on ATS while developing resources to create optimized resumes. This effort began as a resume template offered on a WordPress site. Once it hit Reddit with an explanation of the success of the resume, it quickly gained traction. Rezi then decided to focus on the South Korean job seeker market and became the most recognizable global startup in Seoul, according to the Rezi website.

The company’s next step was to go the direction of software as a service (SaaS) and support job seekers who wanted to make a resume in minutes. Rezi now offers a free plug-in version where users can transform their LinkedIn profile into a resume.

They also offer AI keyword targeting which helps users write resumes tailored to the job description for which they are applying by giving you keywords to include from a pasted job description that would best accommodate ATS filters. In addition to resume keywords, Rezi can also identify formatting errors such as missing bullet points, buzzwords, and useful content. Flexible formatting tools allow users to customize resume aesthetics such as font size, line height, and zoom level right within the app. The Rezi Score tool will then give instant feedback to guide resume formatting.

They also offer professional resume writers to edit resumes and provide suggestions and tips to improve content. One of the most unique features of this offering is that Rezi offers a private, updated, and sharable link to your resume. Users can get started for free but monthly plans range from $3-$9 and quarterly plans from $8-$89.

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