• Alex Milstein

City Furniture teams up with IBM on in-store apps

TARAMAC, Fla. — City Furniture, a family-owned and-operated Top 100 furniture retailer in South Florida, and IBM have announced that City Furniture has launched three apps for iPad Pro to get in-store shoppers the products they want faster.

City Furniture worked closely with IBM to create native apps that are specifically customized to support the needs of its store associates. The three apps — Sales Assist, Payment and Finance — will help 400 store associates across 15 City Furniture showrooms and 12 Ashley Furniture HomeStore showrooms deliver a more efficient, personalized shopping experience for customers.

Sales Assist, rebranded by City Furniture as ASAP (Accelerating Sale Associates’ Performance), provides visibility to the 8,000 City Furniture SKUs. It uses analytics to enable associates to make personalized recommendations, choose delivery preferences and offer traditional retail payment preferences like “pay now,” “pay later” or “lease to own” — all based on a unique customer profile.

Payment allows an employee to complete the transaction of the invoice from the iPad on the spot using cash, credit, check or tap-to-pay payments quickly.

Finance enables a customer to apply for traditional retail financing through a City Furniture or Ashley Furniture Consumer Finance Account to pay an invoice.

The new apps enable store associates to have real-time access to the thousands of City Furniture’s SKUs complete with images, product information, colors, styles and unique customer profiles.

Mike Eason, a City Furniture store associate, said both retail associates and consumers have had positive reactions to the app.

“I think consumers are drawn to the app because it’s helpful yet familiar,” said Eason. “They expect information to be available at the push of a button. Retail associates like the speed, productivity and efficiency it offers. Being able to do their job quicker allows them to help more customers.”

City Furniture is using IBM’s cloud platform, Bluemix, to link these new applications with the company’s existing applications and data. IBM plans to evolve the apps with City Furniture to further connect with the retailer’s existing CRM system and analytics so store associates can more easily follow up with direct marketing for prospective customers based on data from prior purchases and interactions.

Customers today not only expect the best of both worlds — online shopping convenience with in-store personalized services — but they also want speed. These apps can significantly reduce the time it takes to close a sale and emphasize customer relationships and engagements.

“First and foremost, the apps are improving our customers’ experiences and will thus improve brand loyalty,” said Steve Wilder, chief information officer, City Furniture. “The apps are also improving City’s sales associates’ effectiveness and satisfaction, and improving the company’s profitability by increasing both average ticket size and closing rate. In short, the apps provide a ‘win/win/win’ for our customers, sales associates and company.”

When compared with the old system, sales associates using these apps resulted in:

Growing the average purchase order per customer more than 5% per customer with Sales Assist.

Increasing the average in-home warranty service by more than 18%, and average stain protection service by more than 17% with Sales Assist.

Reducing average discounts, which cuts into profits and sales associates meeting their monthly sales goals and quotas, by almost 60%.

Cutting the time in half that it takes for a customer to select the product, choose services and delivery, then make a payment or apply for credit.

Visually confirming the accuracy of a customer’s order, since customers can now see photos of products in their cart before they pay, resulting in fewer credit or invoice rewrites.

“I truly believe that although many furniture retailers have ventured into the ‘in-showroom mobile app space’, City’s apps are better than any I’ve seen,” said Wilder. “I think it’s leapfrogged the competition. I am very hopeful City will leverage the investment we’ve made in our showroom apps, the APIs and experiences learned, to create the most appropriate customer mobile apps and to leverage our e-commerce platform to truly provide the most exceptional, transparent omnichannel customer experience in the marketplace.”

Alex MilsteinAlex Milstein | Assistant Editor

Hi everyone, I’m Alex. I have a passion for writing, a love of marketing and a knack for social media. As an assistant editor of Casual Living, I do everything from writing print features to managing social media accounts to creating and posting web content. I love telling stories and I’m always looking for new ideas. Feel free to email or call me with any story ideas and let me know what you’d like me to write about in the wonderful world of casual. Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FTalexM

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