Seeing opportunity through change in the outdoor industry

Wes Stewart, Managing Director and Founding Partner of Sunset West, wrote and editorial for Casual Living Magazine which was featured on December 12, 2018.

New channels of distribution and new competitors force existing business models to change. Why else would someone choose to disrupt a perfectly good and profitable model?

Change is a frightening word for most of us, myself included. Changing routines, changing jobs or changing business practices can all induce anxiety. It disrupts the comfort of our daily routines and forces us to reconsider what we do on a regular basis; however, with change comes opportunity.

Increasingly, traditional furniture manufacturers, online stores and catalog companies are all showing interest in casual furniture. Why does there seem to be more competition? The simple answer is because there is a tremendous amount of business to be had for both retailers and manufacturers.

OUTDOOR IN DEMAND

Today, the architecture of new homes almost always includes an outdoor living area, whether that’s a covered back patio, a front porch or a beautifully integrated indoor/ outdoor entertaining space with disappearing doors. Sometimes, homes have all three spaces, and as research points out, home buyers and those remodeling existing homes are demanding these outdoor spaces.

The best news about these relatively new entertaining hot spots is that they happen to be focal points of the home. And homeowners tend to spend more money while furnishing these focal points.

Now that we’ve established there is opportunity to furnish these new spaces, how do we continue our dominance in the channel?

As a manufacturer, we continue to look for ways to differentiate ourselves from the masses and overly available product, not just in comfort, quality, design and value, but also in how we present and support our offerings— hence our Color Stories at Sunset West were born.

SOMETHING SPECIAL

This is not just a collection, but a compilation of several collections in different materials and textures that all work together to form different color palettes. I believe the color-palette approach allows our retail partners to offer something special and different vs. the standard matched set that is available through too many other channels.

No longer will our partners ask: “What material are you looking for? Aluminum, resin wicker, wrought iron, wood, poly-wood?” The idea of color stories allows the questions to evolve into: “What is the style of your house? What style do you prefer?” The customer may not be able to answer the first question, but they will certainly be able to answer the second one.

The color-palette approach can challenge the norm in the retail store, but when executed correctly, the ticket averages increase, and the customer is more satisfied with a “stylized” solution for their home. Our retail partners can offer something that big box stores and the Internet cannot—a bespoke service/solution for the discerning client.

Through spending time on the road, talking with customers at trade shows and sharing ideas at industry-sponsored roundtables, I have had the opportunity to meet creative thinkers who continue to modify their traditional retail model to succeed in ways that big box stores and the Internet simply cannot.

IDEAS FOR SUCCESS

  • Store gatherings centered on education or televised sporting events, not just discounted sales.
  • Constant contact with customers via email to share new installations, local news or even holiday recipes.
  • Offering in-home consultations with a lead designer/salesperson.
  • Providing furniture on loan so the customer can have something for their party, but still order exactly what they really want.
  • Barbecuing lunch for shoppers at weekend events.
  • Sending “thank you” cards after a purchase, sometimes with a gift card to come back to the store.
  • Donating a product or a gift card to a local school auction (ask us; we’ll participate).
  • Any activity or contact that can create a personal connection between the community and the company.

NO ONE IS IMMUNE

By listing suggestions on how to successfully retail outdoor furniture, I know I just opened myself up to a list of suggestions about what I can do as a manufacturer to succeed in the industry, as well. I welcome those emails and look forward to the conversations.

The casual industry is not insulated from the requirement to change. Industries all around us are being forced to change. Grocery stores have enticed customers with Starbucks coffee shops. Now many are adding bars that serve wine and craft beers. Best Buy just announced in-home consultations.

Challenges and competitive forces require us to change, but there also exists fantastic opportunities with change when it is embraced and then executed.

Thank you all for a fantastic 2018, and as we all prepare for the changes ahead of us in 2019, I wish you a happy and a very prosperous New Year.

 

To view the full original article, click here.

Luxury Patio Furniture Collections

Styles are constantly changing and transforming.  With new trends emerging, having high quality, luxury patio furniture can make all of the difference in your outdoor living space.  Where plastic fold up chairs were once the norm, technology has advanced enough to allow for fully upholstered furniture to be the center of attention. Comfort is now an acceptable adjective to describe your outdoor space.  Browse through these luxury furniture collections from Sunset West to find the perfect fit for your style.

Coronado

The Coronado is wrapped with a driftwood resin wicker.  It’s sophisticated aesthetics make outdoor luxury seating a thing of the present.  The Coronado has beautiful proportions that allow you to enjoy the great outdoors in comfort and style. Learn more about the Coronado here.

Manhattan

The Manhattan takes your outdoor space to the beach.  With carefully scaled design elements, this collection is relaxing and stylish.  With thick cushions and generous seating, comfort has never looked so luxurious.  Spend time in the outdoors and you host dinner parties, make memories with the kids, or enjoy a romantic dinner for two. Learn more about the Manhattan here.

South Cove, Dana Point, Built by Zephyr

Leucadia

When you want a fresh design in your outdoor living space, the Leucadia is the perfect option.  The transitional design of this bold collection instantly transports you to an oasis filled with tranquility.  Designed with a straw-colored weave, the is a light feel of this thick cushioned collection.  A perfect balance between comfort and class makes this collection a must have. Learn more about the Leucadia here.

Provence

Sunset West’s Provence collection is timeless, both in quality and design. Sophisticated European undertones and elegant, clean lines are complemented by a graceful woven back. Fully-welded, powder coated wrought iron frames in a subtly distressed Century Pewter are finished with an exclusive 5-step process to ensure color fastness and durability. This collection offers a generous range of deep-seating and dining pieces with fast-drying cushions. Learn more about the Provence here.

Laguna

For a more modern design, the Laguna collection has a driftwood finish accented with indoor-quality cushions.  The sleek design of the legs perfect for a contemporary beach home or at a weekend retreat alike.  The Laguna collection is versatile with transitional lines to create symmetry and class in any outdoor space. Learn more about the Laguna here.

Modern Style Throughout Your Outdoor Space

Outdoor space is an extension of a homeowner’s living space.  And when the interior of a home is full of the latest technology and modern aesthetics, it’s important that outdoor space reflects that same style.  Read our top two tips to help you achieve a high quality, upscale, modern look in any outdoor space.

1) Clean and Simple Lines

Modern style doesn’t exist without clean, simple lines.  It flows throughout every feature in a modern home.  From the hardware to the furniture, from the flooring to the backsplash, every aspect of modern style is fused together with clean lines.  When creating an outdoor living and dining space, these same rules apply.  From the flooring to the furniture, clean and simple lines make a bold statement.

Featured in the photograph below is a modern furniture collection accenting a modern outdoor space.  Look at how every element in the space is symmetrical with sleek details.  The flooring is a crisp white, setting the tone for the contrasting black aluminum frames.

La Jolla Cllection from Sunset West
La Jolla Cllection from Sunset West

2) Coordinating Landscaping

It’s easy to purchase an outdoor furniture collection and place it in an outdoor space.  But if that outdoor space lacks the basic aesthetics, it loses its luster.  When designing an outdoor living space, you want to consider the function as well as aesthetics.  What will the space be used for?  Dining by the pool, relaxing in the hot tub, sitting by the fire table, romantic escapes from the kids?  There are so many different ways to transform your outdoors.

Knowing the primary function helps to determine how to landscape and create a backdrop.  When you design a modern outdoor space, you need to find not only furniture and flooring that matching the interior design, but also the outdoor elements, such as modern plants, ponds, water features, etc.

Take a look at how you can create a serene atmosphere with a modern flair.

La Jolla Round Dining Table from Sunset West
La Jolla Round Dining Table from Sunset West

Notice the landscaping with the cactus plants?   Or the stone contrasting against the pop of black on the handrail?  Or the glass that allows the eyes to enjoy the water beyond the patio?  These tiny details come together to create an unforgettable setting.