August 10 - 13, 2020
The Sheraton, Boston
On a Higher PIRCH: Customer Experience To Look Up To
It’s a word that gets bandied around a lot in the realms of retail – especially those that encompass the digital – but, perhaps more than any other retailer, what PIRCH offers its customers is nothing short of an experience.
Founded in 2009, this San Diego based company specializes in high-end home fixtures, largely for the kitchen and bathroom, but also for the garden. But, unlike many other retail outlets that offer similar goods, PIRCH showrooms are unique in the fact that they contain fully-installed and working appliances ready for the customer to try out for themselves. Ovens, showers, fridges, grills, spas, basins and baths– all are hooked up and ready to be tested by the customer in-store, like some sort of adult-only schoolyard with all the toys and climbing frames you could need to keep you smiling all the way to the checkout.
As the PIRCH website puts it:
“It’s your playground to explore before you buy as you sample complimentary chef-prepared sweet and savory bites and hand crafted coffees, ensuring a lifetime of Joy.”
The In-Store Experience
Rather than being simply a gimmick, the practically peerless in-store experience provided by PIRCH has actually been created with pragmatism. In an article for Forbes entitled ‘$48,000 Ovens? Meet The Luxury Retailer Selling Appliances Like Apple ’, CEO Jeffery Sears conducts a tour for reporter Liyan Chen. As they approach the bathroom section, Sears presses a button on an iPad, and water flows softly from a bowling-pin-shaped shower head. “If you’re late for work, and you’re trying to get the shampoo out of your hair, you’ll want to kick it,” he laughs, pointing to the wall featuring two dozen shapes and spray patterns.“ The concept for us is, If I’m going to pick a shower head, I want to know how the water comes out.”
Needless to say, the spectacles like this that PIRCH creates for the customer are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Full-time professional chefs that cook up lunches and freshly-baked cookies, complimentary espresso on arrival, and a beautifully furnished fully functional showroom, PIRCH allows its customers a real-life fantasy of a dream home. Indeed, the overarching philosophy is formed in direct opposition to the industry’s usual warehousing shopping experience, which indeed can feel like the very antithesis of what the customer wants to end up with – i.e. a beautiful, warm, inviting home.
"We know that when people walk through the space they're just stunned and they start to dream," Sears is quoted as saying by CNBC . "Water runs, the chefs are cooking and people are learning. Pretty soon you just simply say, 'My house sucks.'"
The Digital Experience
PIRCH has got the in-store game sewn up. It is inspirational, and it works. Shoppers spend an average of two hours and eleven minutes browsing in stores, before contributing to sales that amount to figures greater than $3,000 per square foot. According to eMarketer , that’s a figure only surpassed by Apple stores, Tiffany and convenience store chain Murphy USA.
PIRCH’s focus on the human experience is only complemented further by the digital solution that it has come up with. Indeed, the ongoing exploration of how PIRCH could further enhance customer experience has ultimately led them to the creation of PIRCH Advisor.
PIRCH Advisor is a unique application, not for customers to download, but for PIRCH’s Lifestyle Experience Advisors (i.e. PIRCH’s salespeople). The app helps Advisors better engage with customers and improve customer relationships through personalized interaction and individualized product discovery.
Partnering with Artefact for the creation of the app, PIRCH has been able to solve some of the in-store problems that were tarnishing an otherwise perfect and unique customer experience.
PIRCH has a practically endless product inventory that resides within huge product catalogs. In the past, this overwhelming database of products that came from a wide range of manufacturers often meant that product information was inconsistent, which of course made for some embarrassing encounters between advisors and customers in stores.
But the PIRCH Advisor app, optimized for the iPad Mini which advisors carry with them in stores, has changed all that by enabling advisors to collaborate in real-time with in-store customers through each stage of the customer journey.
Advisors input customer information to the app, and from there create and track project plans and goals. Indeed, it is the focus on the project rather than a product that enables customers to discover new possibilities as they dream up their perfect home.
Using the app, together, advisors and customers browse products, find product information, save products for a project and create beautiful visual proposals for customers. The garnered customer information is then passed onto suppliers, who can see what PIRCH customers looked at, added to wish lists, and bought – all of which then contributes to the overall ongoing dream home project for the customer, as suppliers garner clearer understandings of what the customer wants. Indeed, data acquired from the application gives advisors unique PIRCH inventory insights, which are automatically sent to the app in real-time whilst with the customer, providing a stream of cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
PIRCH is growing from strength to strength. It’s unique approach focuses heavily on the customer experience, and PIRCH Advisor is there to refine it even more. The approach is summarised most succinctly by CEO Jeffery Sears:
“At PIRCH, our ultimate focus is making each and every customer visit a memorable one. We did not simply set out to find a technology solution, we set out to enhance the customer experience. This is what made Artefact the ideal partner for us, not only for the development of PIRCH Advisor, but for mapping out the bigger, broader vision for the role of technology in our stores and beyond.”
About John Waldron: John Waldron is a technology and business writer for markITwrite digital content agency, based in Cornwall, UK. He writes regularly across all aspects of marketing and tech, including SEO, social media, FinTech, IoT, apps and software development.