Last week I tried to make the case that AV dealers in search of both margin and market share need to embrace entertainment furniture as more than just an afterthought to audio and video. Rather, it has to be treated as an equally important category, and detailed some trends in styling and design that are worth being aware of.
Beyond styling, as an AV dealer, you’ve got equipment-centric considerations for any furniture line you offer. For one thing, storage is a major consideration, something that AV dealers are better positioned to understand than furniture stores. Remember the armoires for CRT TVs fifteen years ago whose designers didn’t grasp the depth those TVs needed? An AV pro will already be paying attention to those things. These days you’ll have other priorities, such as engineering for flow-through ventilation and cable management.
Many people’s media consumption takes place in multi-use rooms like living and family rooms. Alas, many designers see the TV as the elephant in the room and don’t consider storage for media, remote controls or even cord management. Hence the importance of a mix of storage options based on buying a system and then mixing and matching configurations to suit, allowing things that are deemed unsightly to be hidden, and contrast with showcase features like glass cabinets or open shelves where décor items can be displayed.
Another aspect of entertainment furniture to consider is built-in lighting: both as accent lighting for display areas and as general indirect room lighting. Good lighting strikes a balance between what to conceal and what to reveal. Additionally, lighting is a topic that can get design-conscious clients and their personal interior designers on board with new furniture very quickly.
AV dealers need to counsel their clients with regard to furniture choices just as wisely as they do with equipment considerations. The two most important things when buying furniture are to plan and to measure. Most AV furniture vendors have online or app-based planning tools that are great for designing and customizing furniture selections depending on the client’s space and the equipment.
Once you’ve committed to broadening your furniture horizons, bear in mind the need for good logistics and project management. Back room and warehouse space is typically at a premium, and with the exception of ready-to-assemble furniture that’s flat-packed, entertainment furniture, especially seating, can be massive. Having to store seating for twelve for several weeks until delivery during the final installation of a major integration project isn’t an ideal choice.
Fortunately AV pros understand the need for just-in-time shipping, and using project management to order the client’s furniture from the vendor with an appropriate amount of lead time. Proper liaison with your vendor to meet delivery deadlines and minimize the hassle of having to warehouse lots of furniture in your own space is just good management.