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Mattress Mattress to accept crypto currency for online payments

12 July 2021
By the Numbers, Mattresses, Retail

RED DEER, Alberta – Bedding specialist Mattress Mattress is in all probability the first Canadian mattress retailer to begin accepting crypto currency as a form of payment for all online purchases. Customers will be able to pay with their choice of either Bitcoin or Ethereum at the time of purchase, whether it be a new mattress, adjustable bed or sleep accessories.

“We’re excited about this new venture into crypto currency as payment for our products,” Eric Buchfink, founder of the family-owned retail chain, said in a statement, noting consumers around the world are slowly adopting digital currency as a standard means of payment for goods and services.

“People of all ages are investing, earning, and buying goods and services with crypto currencies, so it an easy decision. We believe crypto currencies are revolutionary. Smart contracts and distributed blockchain technology make transactions faster, easier, and more secure,” added Matt Fecho, Mattress Mattress director of Alberta operations.

Mattress Mattress, the regional mattress chain serving Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, has begun accepting Bitcoin or Ethereum for purchases made on its Shopify-provided e-commerce platform. Seen here is the exterior of their store in Kelowna.Chad Buchfink, who leads the company’s online sales division, told Home Goods Online, that to the best of their knowledge, Mattress Mattress is only furniture and mattress retailer in Canada who is currently accepting Bitcoin or Ethereum and he stresses they’re only accepting it for purchases made online, which operates on Shopify’s e-commerce platform.

“This is something we thought we’d try to once again differentiate ourselves from the competition,” he said. “We also feel it’s only a matter of time before most retailers consider it. According to Coinbase (a crypto currency exchange platform based in the United States), there are currently more than 8,000 merchants accepting cryptocurrency.”

Some of the larger companies already accepting crypto currency include Microsoft, Starbucks and Overstock – a top 100 furniture and mattress retailer in the U.S.

Because Shopify handles the transaction, the Ottawa-based e-commerce platform exchanges the crypto currency into Canadian dollars and remits that to Mattress Mattress.

“Through Shopify, funds are deposited to our account the same way that credit card transactions are, but without the fees taken by credit card companies,” Buchfink said, adding, “The other bonus is there are no chargebacks because crypto transactions are permanent and cannot be changed or deleted.”

The company also hopes that providing customers with the flexibility to use cryptocurrencies will help them save on transaction costs associated with traditional banking methods such as credit cards or PayPal.

Mattress Mattress operates 17 retail mattress stores, including 15 in Alberta as well as one unit in each of Regina, Saskatchewan and Kelowna, British Columbia. 

Related Story: Lori Feco of Mattress Mattress: Lessons from the pandemic

Related Story: Matt 4 Kids making a difference for underprivileged children in Alberta

SCC sets super hub opening, expands warehousing 65%

12 July 2021
Mattresses, Retail

TORONTO – Sleep Country Canada Holdings (SCC), parent to this country’s largest retail mattress specialists, has expanded its fulfillment capacity with the addition of two new storage hubs, one in Calgary and the other in the eastern Ontario city of Belleville. This strategic infrastructure investment is designed to increase operational efficiencies and support future years of planned aggressive growth.

In a statement, the publicly held retailer said the new storage hubs add 278,000 square feet – or 12 million cubic feet – to its existing network of 17 fulfillment centres located across the country. In all, they will increase its overall warehouse capacity by 65%.

The company also said the hubs will feature advanced technology to provide it with efficiencies in fulfillment and distribution to support its growing direct import program for accessories and its bed-in-a-box assortment. They will also ensure flexibility in receiving, picking and packing inventory to service its expanding online business and establish the infrastructure required to fuel SCC’s future growth plans. The new storage hubs will reduce the need to expand its existing fulfillment centre square footage in premium priced markets, clearly distinguishing and focusing on its competitive advantage to enhance its last mile just-in-time fulfillment centres from its storage facilities for inventory.

A look inside on of the new storage hubs set to be opened by Sleep Country Canada over the coming weeks. The Calgary and Belleville, Ontario facilities will expand its warehouse capacity by 12 million cubic feet.Canadian customers shopping online and in-store will benefit from these new storage hubs through improved stock availability, expanded assortment and faster fulfillment options. Both storage hubs are planned to be fully operational this summer with the Calgary hub opening in July, followed by Belleville in August.

“Today’s announcement will further advance the exceptional value that Sleep Country’s overall supply chain logistics brings to our business and our customers. Not only have we built a coast-to-coast network of 287 conveniently located stores and become one of the fastest growing online bedding retailers to further enhance our customer experience, but over the years we have also constructed an unmatched network of delivery and distribution to service our customers for that increasingly important last mile delivery with speed, flexibility and efficiency. These new storage hubs further support our promise to deliver world-class customer experiences at each and every touchpoint,” said Stewart Schaefer, president of Sleep Country and Dormez-vous – SCC’s two brick-and-mortar banners.

“Last year, we took advantage of market opportunities to secure competitive pricing for these facilities that will support our aggressive growth plans for years to come. Our record-breaking results and the overwhelmingly positive response from Canadians over the past year made this the perfect time to take the next step in our strategic growth roadmap,” continued Schaefer.

“After 27 years in business, we know that investing in a powerful physical infrastructure is an important strategic element of our competitive advantage and an essential catalyst to support our growth. With these new storage hubs, we are well-positioned to execute growth opportunities including establishing new vendor partnerships, category and product innovation, improving our direct overseas sourcing capabilities and online marketplace expansion,” he added.

Schaefer also noted SCC has improved product gross margins and profitability over the last several years because of its strategic shift from a solely just-in-time local fulfillment model to a combination of local partners and direct import fulfillment model. This approach was purposefully implemented to support growth in e-commerce, sleep accessories and the Bloom bed-in-a-box business.

“These storage hubs, strategically located in proximity to the country’s largest ports on the east and west coasts, will further enhance our direct import capability by receiving and housing a growing number of imported containers and serving as a more efficient breakpoint to deliver product quickly and effectively to the company’s fulfillment centre network,” SCC’s statement read.

“This new strategy will further advance the efficiencies and the delivery capacity of our 17 existing fulfillment centres, which will continue to be the sole provider of the company’s leading white glove last mile delivery service that Canadians have grown accustomed to coast-to-coast – an important commitment and service differentiator for Sleep Country,” it added. 

Related Story: Sleep Country makes its debut on Best Buy’s Marketplace

Related Story: SCC signs Bianca Andreescu as first brand ambassador

Related Story: SCC posts record high sales and earnings for 2021 first quarter

Store sales up year-over-year but fall slightly from March

12 July 2021
By the Numbers

OTTAWA – Actual furniture store, home furnishings store and electronics/appliance store sales (that is, not seasonally adjusted) all fell in April 2021 over the prior month, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada. This may be an early indication that retail may be returning to normal patterns as Canada’s economy slowly re-opens as the pandemic begins to wane following massive vaccination campaigns across the country.

Many observers believe 2021’s retail performance to date should be more properly compared to 2019, before COVID-19 caused widespread store closures from coast-to-coast. Indeed, many brick-and-mortar were closed for as long as 200 days over the 12- month period ending this past April 30.

The federal bean counter recently pegged brick-and-mortar furniture store sales at an actual and preliminary $939.0 million for the month of April 2021. That’s down 19.9% from the $1.17 billion sold in March but a 185.6% leap from the $328.8 million sold in April 2020. However, they were just slightly less than 0.7% off the total rung-up in April 2019.

These figures include the e-commerce sales made by brick-and-mortar stores – such as The Brick, Tepperman’s and Tanguay – but do not include those by the pure online players such as Article, Kravuus or Wayfair.

For the first four months of the year, furniture store sales were $3.72 billion, a 35.6% gain over the $2.74 billion for the same period of 2020.

According to Ed Strapagiel, the Toronto-based retail consultant, furniture store sales for the trailing 12 months ending in April 2021 were up 12.9% to $12.6 billion.

Meanwhile, sales by brick-and-mortar home furnishings stores – which sell everything from floor covering to lamps and lighting, decorative accessories and accent furniture – had preliminary and actual sales of 587.4 million, a 13.5% decline from the $623.0 million rung-up in March but 157.3% higher than the 157.3 million sold in April 2020. However, when compared to April 2019, they were also off by about 0.7%.

For the year-to-date, home furnishings store sales totaled $2.28 billion, up 41.7% over the $1.58 billion for the same period last year. For the trailing 12 months ending April 2021, their sales were up 9.7% to $7.1 billion.

Electronics and appliance stores followed a similar pattern as their preliminary and actual sales were tagged at $1.09 billion by Statistics Canada for April 2021. This is down 4.4% from the $1.14 billion recorded for March 2021 but a 32.1% gain over the $825.9 million recorded for April 2020. However, these merchants bested their April 2019 numbers by 8.9%.

For the January to April period, electronics/appliance store sales stood at a collective $4.45 billion, up 25.2% over the $3.56 billion rung-up for the first four months of 2020. Sales for the trailing 12 months ending April 2021 were pegged at $15.7 billion, up a healthy 15.0% over the comparable period.

Furniture, home furnishings and electronics/appliance stores were among the strongest performance among the various categories of location-based brick-and-mortar retail sectors tracked by Statistics Canada on a regular basis. In fact, the other sector to significantly outperform them in April was building materials and garden equipment retailers which garnered sales gains in excess of 25% on a year-over-year basis.

Darryl Sherman of Wilson's: Lessons from the pandemic

9 July 2021
Furniture, Retail, Opinion

BRIGHTON, Ontario – COVID-19 has been a life altering event. This is now old news but almost everyone agrees it has contained a multitude of teachable moments. So, HGO approached eight influential independent furniture, mattress and appliance retailers and asked them to share what they’ve learned. They all seem to agree that either despite or because of it, this tragedy has made better human beings and better businesspeople.

Each week for the next four, one of these responses will be highlighted in this space. To read the entire report, check out the Spring 2021 edition of the HGO Merchandiser by clicking here.

I want to thank each of these energetic and thoughtful industry leaders for taking the time to consider the questions and respond fully. Aside from some minor editing to ensure clarity, their answers are presented as submitted. 

Darryl Sherman, president
Wilson Furniture; Oshawa, Ontario

What have you learned from the pandemic, both as a businessperson and as a human being?

Personally, the transition from an active life of work, travel and social activity to one of self-isolation, a changing work environment with a different schedule and an end to social activity has occurred with mixed reactions.

Darryl ShermanSurprisingly, adjusting to changing work schedules and no travel have been easier than limiting social activity and contact. Cancelling major holiday get-togethers and family milestones has been more difficult for me. Lessons learned include increased need for shared communication using old and new technologies. I love to write letters and have continued to do so, although e-mails and messaging apps are much faster. Of course, Zoom and other new tools are useful for personal and business communications. However, I long for the personal contact. This includes family and business. Personal meetings with factory representatives and attending trade shows are part of my DNA and are definitely missed. We all used to complain about too many trade shows. Not anymore.

I am also grateful for family and friends. I am so lucky to have a good relationship with my wife Louise. Working with my brother and partner Jory, we have weathered the COVID-19 challenges with a united front and are confident our business will emerge strong and viable.

Finally, I am learning to pace myself. I have always worked six or seven days, then after a few months take a travel break. Not having that option, I am now working five days and taking two off. Also, our store has reduced hours, so my work-life balance has improved.

How has it changed your business, your approach to business and how you see its future?

During the first closure (back in March 2020), we analyzed all our expenses and made changes where possible to reduce them. We do this on an ongoing basis, but that closure expedited our need to conserve where possible. We also looked for opportunities to utilize available government grants and loans.

We also communicated often and clearly with our staff. As a small business this is essential. We tailored our staffing plan to meet their differing and changing needs.  I am also aware long-term social isolation has an impact on everyone’s mental health and well-being. Continued attention to staff well-being is foremost on my mind.

When we re-opened in May 2020, we reduced our store hours (10am to 5pm) and closed two days a week (Tuesday and Wednesday). Private appointments were encouraged. Our staff accommodates customers by opening the store for them when we were closed or after hours. This has worked very well. Everyone has adjusted to this schedule, which we reactivated when we re-opened last month (February 2021).

In December 2019, I began a web site update which was initially completed in February 2020. As technology is changing quickly, we completely revamped our web site again in December 2020 and have spent the time and resources needed to make this site robust and user friendly. We are beginning to offer e-commerce options, online appointment booking, virtual tours and updated product in store. The future of marketing dollars will likely trend away from print and radio to social media and web marketing.

The shift from custom orders to in-stock items will be our biggest challenge as over 60% of our sales have been ‘special’ orders. We don’t import containers and with order times extending to six months, we are concerned our customers will opt for ‘in-stock’ items. So, we are continually revisiting categories to determine inventory levels. This will be our biggest challenge in 2021.

We believe the success of our business will rest on personal interactions with customers and providing a positive in-store shopping experience. With growing residential movement to our area, and the current home décor boom, we are anticipating strong sales as we recover sales decreases in 2019 (due to shutting of the local General Motors factory) and 2020 (thanks to the two-month closure this past spring and the closure after Christmas). We are already behind for 2021 due to the store closure and have our work ahead of us. We are optimistic that once we are past this pandemic, our customers will continue to make home furnishing a priority for the next several years.

The HGO Merchandiser
Spring 2021
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Winter 2020
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Home Goods Online.ca and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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