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Eye on Retail: The Container Store unveils tech-savvy ‘next-generation’ store

BY Marianne Wilson

The Container Store has debuted a new architectural design with technology, an updated merchandising strategy and more personalized services.

The home storage and organization products retailer revamped its Dallas flagship to its “next-generation” concept, which is designed to make it easier for customers to take care of their storage and organization needs. The concept resulted from consumer research conducted in partnership by the Container Store, FRCH Design Worldwide and digital innovation agency MJD. The research revealed that customers’ biggest hurdle in beginning a project was feeling overwhelmed.

The retailer said the revamped flagship will serve as a “test and learn environment” to determine elements for eventual rollout to new and existing Container Store locations.

The store features 18 digital screens to support customers as they shop. They feature everything from inspiration to an interactive design tool to a digital experience called “The Organization Studio,” which allows customers to upload a photo or video of their organizational challenge online, describe the challenge, and set up an in-store appointment to meet with a store expert. The associate will develop a personalized solution for the customer customer free of charge and with no purchase commitment.

“We know that countless retailers are building digital tools and using them to innovate the shopping experience, but combining the human element with technology is when things really get powerful,” said Val Richardson, VP of real estate at The Container Store. “The Organization Studio offers the convenience of an online experience and marries it with a personalized in-store engagement that offers a curated solution created by a real person.

The new architectural design divides the store into manageable areas that pull the customer through the space and make it easier to navigate. Ceilings were lowered to make the store more inviting, rows of shelving were removed to improve sight lines, and new flooring and enhanced lighting was installed to create a more approachable and comfortable environment.

The flagship design positions Container Store’s popular “custom closets” offering as a focal point, creating a “Custom Closets Studio” destination with closet vignettes that allow customers to visualize possibilities at every price point. It also features a lounge and seating area where customers can review a design book and gather ideas for their own spaces. There are also interactive screens that show more examples of “real” closet spaces for customers.

In addition to the closet studio, the store features merchandise set-ups that are reflective of real home spaces—from kitchens to offices—that allow shoppers to get a sense of how products might work in a real-life setting. Small and large project solutions are highlighted throughout the store to show how one might begin a project or maximize their space in any area they had not yet considered organizing.

“Our purpose as a brand is to help our customers accomplish their projects, maximize their space and make the most of their home,” said Melissa Collins, chief marketing officer for The Container Store. “ In order to help them achieve those goals you’ll see a focus across all of our channels on making it easier to find the solutions they want and need.”

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Taiga acquiring Exterior Wood

Exterior Wood has been operating a wood treatment facility and distribution center in Washougal, Wa. since 1977.

BY HBSDealer Staff

Taiga Building Products Ltd., the Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada-based wholesale building products distributor, has entered into an agreement to acquire Exterior Wood, Inc.

Terms of the deal call for a subsidiary of Taiga to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Exterior Wood for a price of about US$42 million.

Exterior Wood has been operating a wood treatment facility and distribution center in Washougal, Wa. since 1977, and services retail building supply centers throughout the western United States and Canada with a wide array of pressure treated products.

The acquisition will expand Taiga’s existing wood treatment operations, which incluedes three facilities in Canada, with additional penetration into the United States market. Taiga currently operates 15 distribution centers in Canada and 2 distribution centers in Northern California along with 6 reload locations in the Eastern U.S.

“The acquisition of Exterior Wood and the expansion of our wood treatment business represents a significant step forward in our corporate strategy of pursuing value enhancing opportunities,” Trent Balog, president and CEO of Taiga, said in a statement issued by the company. “With a well-established customer and supplier base, we believe that the Exterior Wood acquisition will be accretive to Taiga’s business and will successfully integrate within our proven operational capabilities, in addition to expanding our distribution reach in a strategic region.”

Added Dave Perry, president of Exterior Wood, “We are excited to be associated with a company as well respected in our industry as Taiga. In addition to placing a high value on our customer relationships, suppliers and employees, it has a culture that matches very well with the one we have developed over time at Exterior Wood. We are enthusiastic about what the future holds as we work together.”

Taiga produces preserved lumber at 3 plants strategically located to service the Canadian market, the company said.

 

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Flashback Friday: The Golden Rule ‘Q’

BY HBSDealer Staff

The Feb. 8, 1988 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, recognized the efforts of Portland, Maine-based distributor Emery-Waterhouse to launch a “store of the future.”

The Golden Rule “Q” program – “Q” stands for quality” – targeted individual or family owned lumber-yards wishing to remodel or build a new store. In launching the program, Emery-Waterhouse laid claim to the distinction of “first independent distributor to offer its lumberyard dealers a store of the future.”

Timber Mart was the first to sign up. The single-unit dealer in Seabrook, N.H., saw sales increase 24% since it opened its new, 40,000 sq. ft. store in late 1987. The photo above reveals warm colors, a racetrack layout and tall fixtures.

Here’s how Ron Johnson, the company’s Q-program fixtures and fittings manager, described it: “It’s of paramount importance to address the contractor business as well as enhancing the DIY.”

“I was mesmerized by the home center concept and increasing margins,” said Fred Stiles, president of Timber Mart. “But I’m the single owner and wear 12 hats and didn’t have time to spend on the new project.”

In 2000, Timber Mart transformed its business model to focus exclusively on kitchen, bath and floor covering. The brand didn’t last long after that.

As for the distributor Emery-Waterhouse, the company was acquired by Ace Hardware Corp. in 2014.

Do you remember the Q program? Let us know at [email protected]


HBSDealer’s Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Schaffer Associates, a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future. Contact us at SchafferAssociates.com

 

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