Pandemic product development strategies that stuck around


Zoom meetings increased in popularity during the pandemic and won’t be going away any time soon.

Home Accents Today reached out to several home décor manufacturers and asked what pandemic product development strategies have remained permanent. 

“Due to the pandemic, we utilized video meetings and constant communication with our vendors. We learned that we can be just as efficient in some regards. Of course, there is nothing that beats seeing the product in person.”   David Lee, director of business development, Crestview Collection

“Less overseas trips for product development and more product reviews over Zoom.” Cecil Adams, creative director, Currey & Company

“The biggest change has been the increased virtual meetings. Now this is integral part of the selling process, product development process and communication within our entire organization.  This is the new norm.” Bryan Williams, executive vice president, Crestview Collection

“We are looking at more cost-effective ways to bring products to our consumers, and so we are analyzing each detail more than ever to look at how we can keep the cost in line so that we can make them more affordable. For example, I like to specify metallic metals on a lot of my home accessories, but it adds to the overall cost. So, our team is designing more products without metallics in order to make them more affordable. We are still sprinkling them into our lines, but they are not as prominent in our seasonal collections as before.”  Shayla Copas, interior designer

Pacific Coast Lighting has always committed to deep inventories and quick shipping, which served our customers and us well during the pandemic, and this commitment continues on.  The addition to this policy was to make sure we were only introducing new products that we had in stock and ready to ship.  We received accolades from our customers for this and intend to continue being in stock on new goods at their Market introductions.  To make this happen the product development process needs to start earlier to accommodate any supply chain issues as well as annual Chinese New Year closures.” Rick Spicer, vice president sales & marketing, Pacific Coast Lighting

“We have continued to work from afar as going to China to the factories is not possible at the moment. Zoom, photography and lots of patience with tweaking samples have become the norm. The process takes longer and we must plan further out so that we can have in the pipeline the new introductions on a rolling basis. I think everyone from here to the overseas factories have continued to be as efficient and creative as you can.” Mark Abrams, owner and designer, Port 68

One of the best business strategies that will be permanent for my interior design strategy is Zoom, it’s making it possible for us to keep moving projects forward even if we cannot meet clients face to face all the time.  We just had a very successful zoom meeting and the client was in France, she made all sorts of decisions and we can keep it all on the fast track, I don’t feel like I need to get up and go to a million site visits if there are things that can be decided via zoom.   One of the unfortunate business challenges left from the pandemic is the supply chain and shipping delays, I’m not sure I see it getting better in the next six months but a girl can dream!  Libby Langdon, interior designer

“Continuing To Forecast Future Distinctive Individual Trends In Accessories, Lighting & Case-Good Introductions. Creating Unique Depths of Coloration, Exciting New Textures and Uncommon Shapes.”  Kip Holt, sales manager, Villa & House

“Designers and homeowners saw huge challenges with paint during the pandemic; it was not readily shippable, and people were unable to access the tools they needed to complete paint projects. Wallcoverings were already in an upward trajectory within the designer’s portfolio, but the pandemic accelerated that adoption for homeowners too, as wallcoverings ship easily (York manufacturers in the U.S.) and require minimal installation tools. Wallpaper products, from high-end specialty options to traditional, high performance and even peel and stick wallpapers, are simply flying off the shelves. We don’t see that changing …. at York, we like to joke that wallpaper is like a tattoo — once you get one, you want to get more and more! It gives an extra layer of attention and love to a room that just can’t be matched.”  DeAnna Hain, executive director of marketing, York Wallcoverings

“We continue to focus on expanding current proven product categories. What started as necessary decisions to pare down during the pandemic helped us realize the benefits of adding more function, options and value to elevate our existing product assortment rather than endlessly adding new additional products for expansion’s sake. For example, in response to consumer interest in our Style in Motion category, we focused our energy on adding new styles that have only increased the category’s value, with features and benefits that make American Leather different from any other supplier.”  David Workman, executive vice president of sales, marketing and merchandising, American Leather

“Stock, stock, stock. Most companies are out of the products we want when we want them. Hudson Valley Lighting Group only launches product that you can receive within a very short time frame.”  Ben Marshall, creative director, Hudson Valley Lighting Group

“HRI has been developing new look, on trend programmed high-end hand knotted rug collections for over 50 years.  While our time proven process of product development did not change during the pandemic…. the way we communicate and service our customers did. It is the success of our reinvented customer service and logistics that we put in place over the past three years that we will be continuing going forward.” Greg Jordt, executive vice president, sales & marketing, Harounian Rugs International

“For the two-or-so years, vacation wasn’t an option. People turned to their homes to fill the retreat shaped hole left in their life. The focus became on making your house just as wonderful as any resort or escape. Now, with travel back on the table, people remain passionate about creating home spaces that align with their respite sensibilities—Interiors that not only photograph well, but feel good to the touch, soft underfoot, and unafraid to be lived in.”  Lance Trachier, creative director of Jaipur Living

“I continue to rely on PowerPoint and WeChat for sample reviews from China. We are so fortunate to have long great working relationships with our factories that I can accomplish so much through apps and email and not travel to China.”  Laurie Acree, director of design and visual merchandising, Wildwood

“We are still seeing a lot of comfort and livability infused in product development.  Consumers are looking for furniture they can live with. Items with soft yet durable fabrics and silhouettes that are multi-functional are the most requested.”  Meganne Wecker, president and chief creative officer, Skyline

“Developing great designs that are readily available and are in stock is what we have strived for before, during and after the pandemic—so we’ve really tried to perfect that over the years.  We put a lot of effort into providing inspiring images, product specs and real-time product availability on our website to make the customer journey as smooth as possible.”  Carla Regina, CCO, Regina Andrew Detroit

“One of the biggest changes in product development we’ve seen caused by the pandemic that is not going away is the need for people to feel comfortable in their spaces. The pandemic forced us to stay at home for long periods and increased the opportunity to work from home. With that people are seeking to make their space more functional and stylish. Adding planters to bring life into rooms like home offices, having trays and boxes to help organize spaces, and lighter softer colors for a sense of peace is a trend that is not going away anytime soon and means our product development strategies need to embrace them.”  Sagebrook Home Team

“Items out of India are still taking much longer to be developed, produced and then received.  Timelines have been stretched out at least five months.”  Cameron Capel, president sales & marketing, Capel Rugs

“The need for speed! We are staying focused on keeping our product line simple and being able to use the same frame to create multiple looks. This helps us stock material and maintain our incredible lead times.”   Coley Hull, founder, Coley Home

“More efficient ordering practices to help control product costs and pass the savings on to our customers.”   Giovanni Marra, director of marketing and digital strategy, Nourison

“We have continued the practice of getting ahead of the timeline and relying on our team in different time zones to be eyes and ears on the ground. We have continued to encourage them to grow and develop their passion for design and product leadership.”  Emma Lowry, vice president of product development, Elk Home

“Less is more. I think creating less product but making sure it is the right product is a strategy that should stay with us always.”  Robin Gordon, vice president of marketing, Elk Home

“Virtual sample reviews. Not being able to travel in-country, our team started doing video calls with our factories and sourcing teams. Because we have FH teams on the ground in each country, we were able to accurately review finish and design details, construction and even sit/comfort virtually.”  Adam Dunn, vice president of design, Four Hands


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