Continuing the adventure of my move, I did a lot of furniture shopping. During university I never had to worry too much about furnishing a residence as I only spent at most a few months at a given place. However signing a long-term lease and purchasing furniture requires a lot more thought and responsibility. Furniture is expensive not only in terms of money, but also convenience since it is a hassle to deliver, install, and move. Mattresses and pillows are essential creature-comforts considering we sleep on them for a third of our lifetime which is why I believe thinking long-term is key.
Houses are built with different layouts and features, making it difficult to split costs and assign rooms. Here is one solution to aims to provide a fair split: Everyone bids on a room in round robin fashion (if they skip then they cannot bid on that room anymore). The highest bidder gets that room and the process continues with the remaining rooms/people. This works well since the sum of all the rooms should equal the price of rent, so when bidding on any room, you are able to know how expensive the sum of all the remaining rooms are. Thus the price of a room will continue to rise as long more than one person thinks that price a good deal.
Furniture can be expensive and the price tag by itself does not provide enough information to make a good decision. A different way to view the price is amortization, where the cost of an item is divided over several periods to better align the cost with usage. For example, an $800 couch can also be thought of as paying $80 per year, for the expected lifetime (say ten years). Putting it this way, wouldn’t you pay a fraction of a dollar per day to have a nice couch?
If multiple roommates are sharing furniture, what is the best way to also share the price? One idea is to have one owner per piece of furniture. This way it is clear who will be taking what when moving day comes. If costs are skewed, for example someone buys a $800 couch but the other only buys a $400 table, each person can pay the other a 15% “usage” fee for using each other’s furniture. This brings everyone’s expenses get closer to the average cost while maintaining the clear ownership.
At the showroom
Getting what you want
A common way for salespeople to greet customers is by asking “What brings you here?” This provides the salesperson valuable information about how likely they can make a sale, or the types of offers that might appeal. My initial reaction used to be to limit the amount of information I gave because I would then be the one holding the cards. However, after some experimenting and thinking, it is better to give clear specs of what I have in mind because now they have a better understanding of what I am looking for (who would have thought huh?). Nonetheless it is still important to verify the facts provided, for example asking rhetorically “New as in unopened?” can help ensure it is indeed what you think the salesperson meant.
Source of knowledge
Most people don’t shop for furniture very often so we don’t bother keeping up with the latest technologies or even the basic definitions. For example, what’s the best mattress for me, spring, latex, foam, or memory foam? Thus you should take advantage of their knowledge, getting immediate answers instead of wasting time scouring the Internet.
Sales (FOMO) tactics
The root of these tactics is how people react to uncertainty and deadlines. Even if a customer understands the different types of mattresses, how can someone determine for a given mattress whether it is right for them? Are you going to walk in a showroom in your PJ’s? How can anyone sleep with the lights on? How do you know if a mattress can maintain its original quality after a few years?
Difference in experience
One thing to be wary of is the difference in knowledge and experience of a salesperson. It is their job, they are probably good at it, but most importantly, they have all the time in the world. You don’t. I suggest noting down key facts, taking pictures of sales tags, and reading reviews/prices from online.
Salespeople get a bad rep for using pressure tactics like “i would be surprised if this remains in stock by the end of this week” to invite doubt and FOMO. Stores also use flash sales to create this urgency. Yes, you should definitely try to take advantage of the offer, however be wary as to whether the prices were first hiked up so that it looks like you are getting a good deal. Just remember that ultimately you are the one making the purchase and will be sleeping on it for a long time, so don’t settle for less. There are definitely salespeople who care about the customer, but at the end of the day they still need to meet their target and you need your sleep.
Bonus: How did Casper get popular without a showroom?
This requires a separate post but in short I think they are really good at marketing the product at the right audience online through a variety of targeted mediums. Their website is informative by highlighting individual features with simple graphics. Gorgeous pictures give light to what your life could be like by purchasing a Casper. The high prices in whole dollars provide the impression of respect and prestige. All of this is contributes to the branding and conveys a sense of quality and luxury.
Then, distinct market segments are targeted through different channels. For example, an ad on a podcast might be purchased where the host, whom the audience already has a connection with, reads an excerpt explaining the product and provide a promo code. Promo codes are important because it makes the audience feel special and provides FOMO because they don’t want the code to expire before they have taken advantage of it. This higher chance of purchase with a promo code is worth the slight decrease in margins and also means one more customer who can provide testimonials to friends.
I think they have done a really good job at marketing the product and I hope my analysis (not endorsement) doesn’t come off as being negative or judgmental.
1] DON’T FALL FOR PRESSURE TACTICS An old article yet still has some good tips
2] Boiler Room movie about pressure tactics. At least buying a mattress is tangible and offers a good night sleep
3] Did you know BOO stands for Boo October’s Over? Yes, it’s recursive