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Furnitureland South opens high-tech Design Center

JAMESTOWN, N.C. — Furnitureland South is opening a 17,000-square-foot Design Center in existing space on it main campus here with high-tech tools and "high end-style, spa-inspired services," the retailer said.

The Top 100 company said the design center will be the nucleus of the store, where customers choose and customize products, figure room layouts and coordinate their buys.

"We've created an Apple technology platform to ease information gathering for our clients and staff, and which will additionally support our manufacturer partners who are moving toward digitizing their catalogs or creating apps for viewing their products," said Jason Harris, executive vice president of the family-owned business. "Faster and easier are the key words for driving customer sales today."

Harris called the concept revolutionary and said the company believes it "will improve the process of turning customer dreams into beautiful home interiors."

The center is on the third floor of the main showroom in space formerly housing galleries for high-end lines that have moved to other areas. With it, the retailer said it is consolidating all home design project resources into one spots, with access to hundreds of product catalogs and thousands of fabrics and finish samples from more than 500 suppliers.

The center will feature interactive televisions that multiple people can use at one time to view images and information and gain Internet access for viewing supplier websites and other online resources.

"We're using technology and other enhancements to bring an entirely new level of service to our clients," Harris said. "Even details such as lighting and wall colors in the design center were selected to ensure the best design experience possible."

The center also features a variety of workspaces.

Harris also plans to create a video series centered on design center action called "Design Center," which will run on TheDesignNetwork.com website, also owned by Harris and brother Jeff Harris.

"The program will offer a rare glimpse into the process of real people making real decisions for decorating and designing their homes," the company said.

Viewers will have the option of clicking links for product they like, which direct them to Furnitureland South's website.

When plans for The Design Network were announced in October 2012, Harris said the venture would be kept separate from the store and that no retailer advertising or locator information from FLS or other retailers would be part of the network.

Asked if there has been a change in strategy now, Harris said The Design Network is "an interactive broadband television network" that was launched independently from the retail business, "imagining that there would certainly be logical integration points that would present themselves in the future with our retail business to take advantage of the incredible interactive capabilities that broadband enables to best serve this target audience."

He said the integration of products from TDN sponsors into all the programming, and "Design Center" show are those logical points "that maintain the independence of the network and provide the ultimate convenience for viewers to learn more about the products they're seeing in the shows, and potentially even to purchase those items."

"The key is to make this a feature that is controlled by the viewer," he said.

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