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Tag Archives: zillow

Pinterest, Instagram And The Future Of Furniture Retail

POST WRITTEN BY

Beck Besecker

Co-founder and CEO of Marxent, the leader in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for homes, furniture and spaces.

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Pinterest, Instagram, Houzz and Google Image Search hold massive power when it comes to brand discovery and the formation of product preferences. Just ask direct-to-consumer furniture companies like Article, Maiden Home and Interior Define.The influence of lifestyle imagery on purchase behavior is stunning. According to Pinterest (via SocialMediaToday), 83% of all women in the United States ages 25-54 visit Pinterest. Of that total, 43% of those visits are related to purchases for the home within the next five years.

This endless stream of inspirational photos is easily curated by consumers into boards or lists that illustrate the idea of a perfect kitchen, a perfect living room, a perfect lifestyle, a perfect future.

The new ‘location, location, location’ is personalization

It’s true that physical location still matters. Retailers have to be where the eyeballs are, but those eyeballs are increasingly on Instagram and Pinterest searching photos that illustrate the possibilities, seed ideas and help refine their tastes. How do these images translate into sales? Good question.

Photos provide inspiration, but what shoppers really want is to explore how the products featured in photos fit into their lives. In most cases, that means advanced personalization — the tailoring of the experience to the individual customer. It’s one reason my company created Photo to Floorplan, a design method which allows shoppers to look at an inspirational photo, tap on the items they like and have them instantly populate the floor plan of their real-world space.

The use of high-quality visual content translates into sales. For example, Pinterest reports (via AdWeek) that people who engage with Promoted Pins spend seven times more than people who don’t. But what comes after inspiration? Instagram recently introduced a feature that lets users buy the items seen in photos, and Pinterest Pins and Instagram posts can now be curated and made shoppable with platforms like Curalate. That’s a good start but it’s only the beginning.

The answer is clear: Let shoppers design from photos and give them the power to control the journey.

Inspiration is where purchases start, not where they end

We all know that vertical visual search engines like Zillow, Houzz and Pinterest are helping shoppers to envision their perfect future before they ever enter a store. I’ve used this technology myself, and I’m assuming most of you have as well. In a recent study conducted by MFour Mobile Research (via AP News), “Two-thirds of millennials prefer to research significant purchases online.”

The natural next step for complex kitchen and home projects is to translate inspirational photos into relevant, personalized designs. This can be as easy as selecting a style profile, finding a photo or collection of photos that resonate and adding the items from the photos directly into a custom floor plan.

Traditional visual merchandising and photos both leave users with questions like “will it fit?” or “will it work?” Inspirational photos on their own do the same. That’s why owning the design phase has long been the holy grail for furniture and kitchen retailers — it is essential to clinching the sale and reducing returns.

Examples of companies already using high-quality visual content and translating it into sales include Ikea, whose Ikea Place app allows shoppers to place 3D products in their homes via augmented reality, and Macy’s (a Marxent partner), which is using an in-store 3D room planner and virtual reality showroom installation to sell furniture.

What comes next?

Inspirational shopping trends extend far outside the world of furniture, with 3D visualization tech now in use in fashion, beauty, apparel and more. Zara, Nordstrom, Gap, Sephora and others are experimenting with visual virtual try-on and shopping services. Ben and Jerry’s is deconstructing their flavor profiles with gorgeous Instagram posts. Nike is taking a more wide-ranging approach, using augmented reality to not only offer virtual try-on services but to create exclusive, geo-targeted shopping experiences. And across the pond, French fashion house Balmain is using CGI models — in this case, computer-generated people depicted wearing the brand’s fashions — to market clothing.

With shopping journeys now more likely to start and end on mobile devices instead of in stores, designing directly from photos is a great way to give the customer control of the process. Augmented and virtual reality are taking these shoppers from inspiration to action.

Allowing customers to unleash their creativity and ensure that they love their purchases through design by photo provides a new level of personalization through inspiration. Major retailers that want to preserve their edge both online and in stores are using it to deliver the combination of inspiration and personalization that consumers crave.

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Tariffs boost housing renovation costs after Zillow and others go all-in on iBuying

Costlier supplies will shrink “razor thin” margins as iBuyers move into new markets

American Flag house

The United States and China are locked in a tit-for-tat trade war that will boost the price of materials that go into home renovation and construction. The higher costs come as iBuyers such as Zillow, Opendoor and Offerpad are expanding into new markets with plans for fixing up and reselling homes.

 

Many of the products iBuyers need to paint, repair and in some cases renovate kitchens and other rooms will become more expensive in the next few months as the U.S. importers who pay the tariffs pass on the added costs to American consumers. The National Association of Home Builders said tariffs will boost housing construction and renovation costs by $2.5 billion.

“In iBuying, it’s razor-thin margins anyway, so any sort of ripple in the pond has the potential to disrupt,” said Mike DelPrete, a real estate strategist who tracks the iBuying market.

That’s not necessarily a deal-killer for the biggest iBuyers, said DelPrete. Most are well-financed and don’t necessarily need to make a profit from each house they sell as they build out their business models, he said. Some, like Zillow, are hoping to generate profit in other ways, such as attracting mortgage customers as sellers move up to their next purchase, he said.

“What’s happening right now in iBuying is a land grab, and a lot of these companies don’t need to be profitable right away,” said DelPrete. “But if you’re a big iBuyer and your buying and selling thousands of homes a month, higher costs have a potential impact.”

Zillow is the iBuyer who is expanding the fastest. It purchased 898 houses and sold 414 in the first quarter, the company said in its earnings report last week. That was a gain of 80% and 200%, respectively, compared to the fourth quarter. 

“In Q1, we received more than 35,000 seller requests, and that demand is rapidly accelerating,” CEO Rich Barton said on a conference call after the company reported its earnings to Wall Street. “We now receive one request every two minutes, which is nearly $200 million in potential transaction value per day.” 

Zillow and the other iBuying companies cited declined to comment.

Last week, President Donald Trump hiked tariffs to 25% from 10% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. In retaliation, China announced plans to raise tariffs to 25% on $60 billion worth of U.S. products starting June 1. President Trump has threatened to expand tariffs to a further $300 billion of Chinese imports.

The construction imports from China now carrying a 25% tariff include: concrete, nails, screws, ceramic tiles, and asphalt roofing shingles, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Also on the list: light fixtures, kitchen cabinets, circular saw blades, stainless steel used for appliances and various types of raw materials that go into U.S. building products.

Tariffs, also known as duties or levies, are collected by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents from importers – U.S. businesses – as goods enter the country. In other words, no one is handing China a bill. Typically, those American importers pass the added cost to their distributors who eventually pass it on to the consumer at the end of the line – in the renovation industry, that’s the guy sent to Home Depot, Lowes or similar retailers to pick up supplies. 

“To be clear, tariffs are taxes paid by American businesses and consumers, not by China,” said David French, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation.

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Vote For The 2020 ASID National Board Of Directors

Vote Now!

Kerrie Kelly, FASID, NKBA, CAPS
Chair-Elect

Kerrie Kelly founded Kerrie Kelly Design Lab, a Northern California residential interior design firm focusing on new construction and working with home builders, in 1995. Kerrie is an award-winning interior designer, author, contributor, product designer, and multi-media consultant, helping national brands reach the interior design market.

Kerrie is a fellow, board member, and foundation trustee of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID); a Houzz Pro Advisory board member; and a member of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). She is also an avid representative, speaker, and on-air talent for Outdoor Living and Livable Design initiatives, and a Certified Aging in Place specialist (CAPS). Kerrie has authored two books and is the interior design national spokesperson for Zillow Inc., writing monthly articles for their website and speaking to media outlets about interior design, including The New York Times, Forbes, Globe and Mail, and The Wall Street Journal. She also writes a monthly design column for Style Media Group and is on the editorial board of Furniture, Lighting & Décor magazine.
Kelly’s ASID involvement includes serving as past president of the California Central/Nevada Chapter, as an ASID speaker at High Point Market and Dwell on the topic of thriving in place, as chair of the ASID Aging in Place Council, and as recipient of the Nancy Vincent McClelland Merit Award.

1. Do you approve Kerrie Kelly, FASID, NKBA, CAPS for the 2020 ASID Board of Directors? *

John Cialone, ASID
Director at-Large

John Cialone, a nationally recognized interior designer, leads a team of more than twenty professionals while managing operations at Chicago-based Tom Stringer Design Partners. As a partner and vice president of his firm, John’s enthusiasm for promoting the interior design industry is contagious. With over twenty-five years of experience, his work has been recognized with many awards and has been widely published. John credits his business sense and success to the training he received as a young professional through leadership roles in ASID, particularly in strategic planning, public speaking, and business development.

John is a member of the Guild Board for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago and is a member of the Leaders of Design Council. He has served as a public speaker to many organizations and has mentored students across the country. John has participated in the 1+ Program, donating his firm’s services and aligning his belief that Design Impacts Life with the firm’s work.

John’s ASID involvement started as a student with positions on the ASID National Student Council. He was a member of the ASID Board of Directors concurrently with his position as National Student Council president. He has held committee and board positions in both the ASID Florida South and ASID Illinois Chapters, and has been active in government affairs starting in Florida as a design student and continuing today as a Registered Interior Designer in Illinois. John was recognized as an ASID Medalist in 2017 and is currently the 2018-2019 ASID Illinois Chapter president. John is the chairperson of the ASID Foundation Fundraising Committee overseeing the Society’s efforts to grow the Foundation’s endowment through individual and corporate gifts and legacy planning.

2. Do you approve John Cialone, ASID for the 2020 ASID Board of Directors? *

Ellen Fisher, Ph.D., FASID
Director at-Large

Ellen Fisher is vice president of Academic Affairs and Dean at the New York School of Interior Design.  She is a Certified Interior Designer in New York, and earned a Ph. D. in Architectural Studies/Human Environmental Sciences from the University of Missouri, where her line of inquiry addressed how teachers use the physical classroom as a tool for teaching literacy.  She was inducted as a Fellow of the American Society of Interior Designers in July 2018.

Ellen is the author of the recent book, “HOME: Foundations of Enduring Spaces,” published in 2018 by Clarkson Potter/Random House.  New York School of Interior Design is ranked as one of the top interior design programs in the U.S. by DesignIntelligence, which also named Ellen Fisher as one of 2018 and 2019’s Most Admired Design Educators. A member of the Interior Design Educators Council since 1985, and recently named President-Elect, she has presented numerous times at conference and has served IDEC in many volunteer roles.

3. Do you approve Ellen Fisher, Ph.D., FASID for the 2020 ASID Board of Directors? *

Ken Wilson, ASID, FAIA, LEED Fellow
Director at-Large

Ken Wilson is a design principal and the design director for Interiors in the Washington, D.C. office of Perkins+Will. He is also one of two co-global design directors for interiors and serves on Perkins+Will’s Design Board and Sustainability Council.

Ken has been practicing for over 35 years and his portfolio includes architecture, interiors, graphics, and product design. He is the only architect in the world to hold fellowships in the AIA, IIDA, and the Green Building Certification Institute (LEED Fellow). His projects have been published in seven different countries and have received over 120 national and local design awards.

In 2005 Ken was named “Designer of the Year” by Contract magazine, and in 2018 he received the ASID Designer of Distinction Award which annually honors one professional who has established a body of superior work demonstrating creativity, excellence, and innovation. He serves on the Environmental Task Force for the city of Park City, Utah and is a member of the ASID Design Impacts Lives Steering Committee.

4. Do you approve Ken Wilson, ASID, FAIA, LEED Fellow for the 2020 ASID Board of Directors? *

Elizabeth Von Lehe, Allied ASID
Director at-Large, Allied

Elizabeth Von Lehe is the design & brand strategy principal at HDR. A seasoned design leader with professional experience across multiple industries, she leads the architecture firm’s efforts to advance a holistic approach to design, embracing not only the built form, but branding, curation, and the development of user experience from every angle.

Von Lehe previously worked at ICRAVE Design, where she served as director of strategy, brand, and architectural design for more than seven years. Before that, she worked for both Target and Lands’ End. Her experience includes developing product collections for both fashion and furniture industries as well as guiding master plans and interior design concepts.

Based in New York, Von Lehe is well known throughout the design professions as a leader in the field of experience design. She is a regular keynote and workshop speaker at the national and chapter levels for the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), advocating for experience design to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration and integration beyond what most designers usually practice.

Von Lehe is chair of the Executive Advisory Committee for ASID and is a regular graduate mentor and panelist for her alma mater, Columbia University. Her work has been featured in several industry publications and she has been interviewed by national outlets such as Bloomberg and NPR.

5. Do you approve Elizabeth Von Lehe, Allied ASID for the 2020 ASID Board of Directors? *

Patty Dominguez
Industry Partner Representative

Patricia (Patty) Dominguez, vice president of Architect and Design Sales for Cosentino North America, oversees commercial business development and the kitchen and bath studios business for the global surfacing leader. In her 12 years with Cosentino, the relationships she has cultivated with the country’s leading architects, designers, and kitchen and bath dealers have played an integral part in its exponential growth in the United States, which makes up more than 60 percent of its global sales.

In every role throughout her tenure with Cosentino – Kitchen & Bath sales manager, director of Public Relations, marketing manager, and director of Field Marketing – Dominguez has spearheaded the development and strategy of its invaluable relationships with leading industry organizations, including the American Society of Interior Designers, the National Kitchen & Bath Association, and the American Institute of Architects, among others.

Dominguez’s leadership at Cosentino and commitment to the industry have earned her numerous accolades, including the 2015 ASID Industry Partner Merit Award and the 2010 ASID Presidential Award. Her passion for people and relationships is reflected in her commitment to service and philanthropy. She previously sat on the Board of Trustees for the ASID Foundation, and has given her time to many Houston nonprofits, serving as the president of the Latin Women’s Initiative for three years, and working with Prepared 4 Life, Lemonade Day, the Junior League of Houston, and the Neighborhood Centers.

6. Do you approve Patty Domiguez for the 2020 ASID Board of Directors? *
*Only interior designer and educator members in good standing are eligible to cast a vote for approval of the candidates; member verification will occur upon receipt of ballot from asid@asid.org. 

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Housing market in 2018 likely to be more of the same

Early forecasts of next year’s housing market exhibit trends that will look familiar to builders and realtors.

Although they vary somewhat in the details, the forecasts predict yet another year of tight inventories, rising prices and low rates of home ownership. These trends will be ameliorated somewhat, but experts anticipate it will not be until late 2019 or 2020 before the market evens out.

First, let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room. Any or all of the following predictions could be altered substantially depending on what emerges finally from the current federal tax reform bill reconciliation process.

Up to now, concern about the nation’s housing situation has not weighed heavily on legislators’ minds. However, other provisions affecting deductions and tax liability could impact how much prospective buyers could afford to finance and, consequently, home prices and sales.

Assuming for the time being conditions will remain status quo — which seems highly unlikely — next year should bring some relief to more affluent home seekers.

According to Realtor.com’s 2018 National Housing Forecast, due to increased demand, prospective buyers should find more inventory available in the mid- to higher-priced segments of the market by spring buying season. This, in turn, will slow the rate of home price increases, from an estimated 5.5 percent in 2017 to 3.2 percent next year.

MetroStudy’s most recent National Residential Economic Report also foresees prices gradually declining over the next five years. However, industry experts and economists who participated in a recent Zillow and Pulsenomics survey were somewhat less optimistic.

Based on increasing demand and the continued slow pace of new housing construction, they expect the current level of shortages of both new and existing homes to remain about the same next year, causing prices to rise about 4.1 percent — still lower than this year, however.

The all-important category of entry-level buyers, who make up a sizable portion of all prospective buyers, will be most affected by shortages and rising prices. In its “2017 Profile of Buyers and Sellers,” the National Association of Realtors reports that the share of sales to first-time home buyers in 2017 inched backward to 34 percent (from 35 percent in 2016), which is the fourth lowest share since 1981.

Most affected will be millennial house hunters, who now constitute around 40 percent of all home buyers. Many will remain shut out of the market because of the lack of affordable homes to purchase.

Together, these two trends could have long-term consequences for the housing market. Experts in the Zillow survey noted that the near-record-low home ownership rate, currently at 63.9 percent, is likely to stay around the same level, or possibly increase to 64.2 percent.

Overall, experts anticipate only moderate industry growth next year, but somewhat faster pace in new home construction. Realtor.com projects an annual 2.5 percent year-over-year boost in existing home sales and a 7 percent rise in new home sales (based on expected additional inventory). It expects housing starts will end the year 3 percent higher, including a 7 percent jump in single-family housing starts.

Dodge Data & Analytics’ “2018 Construction Outlook” predicts a 9 percent increase (in dollars) in single-family construction but an 8 percent decline in multi-family construction. Economists are projecting a 2.5 percent growth for the nation as a whole in 2018.

As noted above, all of these scenarios are subject to change in the coming months. At present, 2018 is shaping up to be a better year for home builders but perhaps not for home buyers.

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The ultimate symbol of the pre-recession boom is back

Here’s a certain type of house that people love to hate. They’re called “McMansions,” and architecture critic Kate Wagner has dedicated her website, McMansion Hell, to explaining why these houses rub people the wrong way.

Continue reading The ultimate symbol of the pre-recession boom is back

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