As home furnishings retailers and interior designers navigate this time of COVID-19, which has presented some significant challenges, Sarreid Ltd. has taken this time to grow its digital presence, stay connected and continue to create a best-case experience for its customers. COO Brad Cates credits longevity, innovation and dedication with keeping Sarreid vital in the current environment, with plans to come out ahead of the curve as business begins to return to normal.
Furniture, Lighting & Decor: Talk a bit about Sarreid’s overarching business philosophy.
Brad Cates: We are a 53-year-old rock-solid company, a family-oriented company, and we want to be here for the entire industry and community for 53 more years, so we’re doing everything we can to be that best partner now and in the future. Sarreid has always cared about our partners. That has never been more important than it is today.
FLD: What makes Sarreid essential to retailers and designers?
B.C.: We have a tremendous amount of inventory on hand and we are still ordering, so we have stock on hand when retailers and designers need it. Immediate gratification will become more important on the other side of the coronavirus crisis. With this new mind shift, new paradigms are being established. We have all hands on deck trying to develop the smartest initiatives to weather this situation. We want to come out stronger than we went in, and I think we’re on that path.
FLD: How are you staying connected with your customers?
B.C.: We have been able to continue to operate. We’re moving fast on the digital front. We’re doing a lot of outreach with our retailers and designers. We’ve also been doing rich media digital advertising on blog sites, and we continue to evolve that daily. We’re also trying to be conscious in our media so we’re not communicating a sales pitch.
FLD: Talk about some of the digital initiatives Sarreid has undertaken.
B.C.: We are digitizing as much as we can and building a vast digital arsenal. Our 2020 catalog is being designed digitally first, with a print version to follow. Digitizing the catalog gives us many options for delivering an experience, with video tours around products and the ability to evolve the catalog in real time. Beyond still shots, we can also embed video in the catalog and showcase a 360-degree view as well as the functionality of our products. We’ve gotten rave reviews from our sales team! Our reps feel that with this new technology, we’ll be well-prepared for when markets return.
We’ve also updated our website so we can support video of products and our showroom there and in eblasts to our customers. We’ve developed our website to be user-friendly for retailers and designers. We share product dimensions and stock positions are updated four times a day.
FLD: Have you maintained your staff, and how do you keep them protected from COVID-19?
B.C.: We have been able to keep people working. There is a sense of community at Sarreid. Some of our employees have been with us for 25 years and more. They are family.
To keep employees safe, we post a regular daily update so they know the situation in Wilson, NC. There is regular communication with everyone. We’ve worked aggressively on maintaining strict social distancing. In the office, for example, we’ve kept people separated in different offices. Our office manager, who has asthma, has been able to work from home. We are providing masks and gloves for our employees, and we have temperature-monitoring stations. We’re covering all of our bases. We want to help our team through this rough time.
FLD: What do you want your customers to know as they open up and get ready to return to retail floors and clients?
B.C.: We have incoming containers with at least $10M of inventory. We are also pursuing products we think will be good additions to our collection, and good for our customers.
People are going to want the tried-and-true, but they’ll also want some wow factor. We’ve taken an organized gamble and gone ahead and put in full orders so we’re ready when they are.