Primary markets: North America
Number of employees: 850
Contact: Nicole Basenach, vice-president (consumer experience)
Selling furniture to Sarah
Internet sales are growing by leaps and bounds in almost all categories. One Quebec company, South Shore Furniture, has even figured out how to sell ready-to-assemble bedroom, adult and children’s pieces online. “We realized that purchase decisions in the category tended to be made by women,” explains Nicole Basenach, the company’s vice-president (consumer experience). “So we created a mythical target consumer, named “Sarah” whom we keep in mind in all our design and marketing initiatives.”
Today, almost all South Shore Furniture employees know that “Sarah,” is a young mother, aged between 35 and 45, who comes from a median income level family. Sarah wants the best for her children, but, like most working moms, is busy and thus has to often make difficult time choices. “It’s not just a marketing concept,” says Basenach. “It’s a way of communicating to employees that our real boss is not Jean Laflamme (the company’s president)…our real bosses are our customers.”
The strategy seems to be working. Today South Shore Furniture, which was founded by LaFlamme’s grandfather, nearly three quarters of a century ago, manufactures a broad range of speciality furniture at plants in Quebec and Mexico. Sales are also generated through alliances with major retailers, however orders are placed online. Speed is of the essence. The company ships 95 percent of orders within 48 hours after receiving them and 80 percent within 24 hours. Low costs, and therefore production efficiency are among South Shore Furniture’s key performance drivers.
Like much of Canada’s manufacturing sector the company has benefitted from the steady depreciation in the loonie during the past two years. That makes South Shore Furniture’s products cheaper in export markets, particularly the United States, where almost 90 percent of output is shipped.
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Peter Diekmeyer Communications Inc.