Podcast Episode 9 With Michael Nau VP of Merchandising for City Furniture Inc
Today we are talking with a special guest, Michael Nau. We will be discussing the astounding growth that City Furniture has seen throughout the pandemic. Specifically, we will look at how they have leaned into online sales and taken advantage of the situation to give them a strong position moving forward. For article clarity, the paragraphs in which Michal Nau is speaking will have MN in the heading, and where Luis Lopez is spelling will have LL.
About Michael Nau
Michael is the VP of Merchandising at City Furniture. He is in Tamarac, FL, which is a part of Broward county.
What is a BCO
A BCO or Beneficial Cargo Owner is a company that owns the cargo being shipped and does not make use of a third party such as a Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier or a freight forwarder.
Why Bring Logistics Inhouse? (MN)
For us, at City Furniture, it is about building long-term relationships. We based the whole supply chain we use on that. From suppliers to carriers and trucking companies, they are all valued partners.
Advantages of Being a BCO with Inhouse Logistics (LL)
When we look at a BCO like City Furniture that has flourished in the pandemic, several factors helped. As a BCO, that company can control on-time logistics, build manufacturer relationships, and generally exert more influence over their supply chain.
Would You Say Being a BCO Helped With the Pandemic? (MN)
It significantly helped us. Currently, we sell 95% of products directly from our warehouse. The other 5% comes off the showroom floor. In the current climate, the global supply chain has had issues due to the pandemic. That is especially true in the furnishings industry. Demand saw a giant spike much faster than supply could meet. By working directly with carriers and manufacturers, we at City Furniture were able to ramp up production quicker than the competition. We are one of the largest importers into the Port of Miami . We need to make sure that we do everything promptly, and can fulfill our promises.
Was Redesigning the Website a Pre-COVID Priority or Was It Brought About By The Pandemic? (MN)
It was a very long journey to get the website and social media where it is now. Eight years ago, when I started, only three people were working on the website.
Looking At The Website (LL)
The website is great. When I look at it, it is super easy to make an account and has over 10,000 items. You have tracking, wish lists, financing, and contacts for online designs. As a millennial, I generally prefer going to the store online over in person.
Improving Retail (MN)
We see the website as the new front door for the business. We want everyone who comes in to be pre-shopping. The percentage of our sales purely online is growing, but the retail presence is still critical.
Combining Great Website and Great Retail (MN)
On the website front, we have really been focusing on content and product. We built an in-house photo studio to get quality shots for Instagram and other social media. That has been critical. We have also made major investments in product information.
Features of the Website (LL)
One of my favorite things about the website is the ability to do final mile tracking. I feel that this gives the customer the ability to feel like they know where they are at. You do not have to deal with buying a product and calling someone to try to figure out where it is and when it will arrive.
Hiring To Build A Great Team (LL)
We have talked before about how to best scale to prevent redundancies. You are only as good as the people you bring on board. It is all about the culture you build. What I want to know is how do you find the best talent to help you build that culture.
What We Look For At City Furniture (MN)
The most important thing is finding people that fit the culture we have worked so hard to build. If you find someone who fits the culture, you can always teach them skills on the job. Thinking about the last couple of hires we have made in the logistics department, they were from very different backgrounds. One was fresh out of college, and the other was a freight forwarding veteran with 20 years of experience.
Top 5 Critical Things To Do At Interviews (LL)
- Research the company you are going to work for
- Make eye contact with the interviewer
- Review the job description and make sure it meets your criteria
- Check out other companies on LinkedIn, look at what the competition is offering
- Prepare yourself with questions to ask while in the interview
I do not think that just having an MBA or a 4-year degree makes you the best candidate in the room. Especially when you compare it to someone who has 6–9 years of experience. They are in the trenches every day and know how to cut bills of landing, procure rates, and contact steamship lines.
Is City Furniture Currently Hiring, And If So, What Roles? (MN)
Two positions are currently open that I would like to highlight. We have a logistics coordinator role which is in the realm of what you were alluding to. Anyone can DM me on LinkedIn.
Pandemic Growth & Growing Pains(MN)
Back in March/April of 2020, there was no way anyone could have envisioned the massive growth in the home economy. On top of that, before the pandemic, furniture was much heavier in retail than most products. People tended to go to stores, and furniture takes up a lot of space and hence, is challenging to deliver.
Overcoming Growing Pains (MN)
If you look at our chart here of our inbound inventory, you can see that post covid we are consistently 30–40% higher. When the lockdown started, there was immense uncertainty. Our partners stayed on high alert, and we were able to move to appointments for in-person shopping. We also built a best-in-class chat team. It is one of the best ways to buy.
Trouble In The Suez (MN)
I am glad you brought me on after the Evergiven was freed because we had major worries about the Suez, and it has been stressful. Lately, global transport has been experiencing a strong dose of Murphy’s law in that almost anything that could go wrong has.
The Freight Guru
Download the PDFs mentioned
Recommended Logistics and Trucking companies:
LTL Services — https://goltlhub.io
Hazmat Services — https://gohazmathub.io
TMS — https://mytruckhub.com
Logistics Services — https://gofreighthub.io
Fulfillment — https://www.sunshipecommerce.com
Warehousing — https://gowhsehub.io