Retail Focus with Vic Smith Beds

Vic Smith, owner of Vic Smith Beds, talks about why the number of years a bed should last needs changing, current consumer shopping habits and how the internet is a constant challenge.

Meet Vic

I’m the owner of independent beds and mattresses retailer Vic Smith Beds. I’m also in charge of sales, ideas and marketing for company improvement and development, as well as all other projects within the business.

Can you share some recent investments the company has made?

We have recently invested in some large tv screens in store, with a mini computer (raspberry pi) fixed to the back. This creates a constant loop showcasing some of the bespoke beds / headboards we have made for customers as we cannot show every colour or idea in store. This gives customers a better visual. We have also put screen shots of some of the magazine ads we have done to offer some subliminal reinforcement, often known as ring fencing where customers see in store, what they have seen elsewhere to bring them into store.

What future plans do you have in the pipeline?

We have a few plans in the pipeline – but being extremely superstitious (not wanting to give our competition any advantage), we are going to keep our cards close to our chest on this one for now, so all I can say at this moment in time is to watch this space!

What is your mission?

To keep being London’s biggest leading independent retailer, helping as many local people as possible sleep better on a nightly basis.

On sustainability, what is your business doing on this topic?

We recycle where possible – reducing our footprint by breaking down traditional divan bases, and selecting “clean” wood that can be used in log burners and putting them through the wood chipper. We then donate them as a source of fuel for others. We also send metal springs to metal recycling, while quilting/stuffing is donated to companies to make sound proofing for music studios or venues and whole mattresses can be used as buffers in shipping containers for luxury cars. There’s plenty of scope to recycle and we’re always thinking of ways to reuse where we can. We also analyse our delivery schedule – combining local deliveries to be ‘grouped’ so we’re not going backwards and forwards in same area over a couple of days. In some of our buildings, in certain areas, have also been converted to solar lighting to be more energy efficient.

How has recent business been?

We are seeing that people are taking more than one visit to purchase a bed and there are lots more in-depth questions being asked too. This means that there is longer time spent with customers per sale. Dealing with customer’s expectations of cost to life span is another area of focus, as we continue to educate the consumer. Business has been good and we expect a positive March with the added promotion of National Bed Month.

What would you change in the industry?

I think the magic figure as to how long a bed should last needs changing. There are so many different grades of mattresses on the market now and hopefully it would help people decide sooner when it’s time to replace a bed. Plus, beds are used in much more ways these days, from watching TV, to working and/or gaming. Beds have become a versatile part of the home and not just used for sleeping.

What challenges do you currently face and how are you overcoming these?

The biggest challenge is the cheaper internet products doing the rounds. By explaining to customers, the differences between one model and another in depth far is much more beneficial when making big ticket purchase like buying a bed or mattress. We try to point out the inconvenience of buying a bed online and the fact that most online sites have the caveat, “may vary from photos”.

Do you have any staff you would like to pay special thanks or recognition to and why?

I have to say that I’m very lucky with all my staff, who are all very loyal and company focused. However, knowing them, they would probably prefer not to be named!

Why do you think customers choose your business?

We are very much upheld in the local community as we often support local events, while recommendations are a huge part of our business too. And once a customer has bought from us, they want their friends and family to buy the same, because of our service, value, delivery and knowledgeable advice. Our aftercare and support throughout are often praised too.  

Final thought…

On a daily basis, we have customers walk past who have bought beds previously and they wave! Customers are always dropping off chocolate biscuits and wine too. This may go some way to explain my size – who doesn’t love a tasty thank you! But it’s always good to see our customers are clearly pleased with their purchase from us and we thank each and every one for their continued support in our business.

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