FLS Design Center's big, high-tech
Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, September 2, 2013
JAMESTOWN, N.C. - Furnitureland South has opened a 17,000-squarefoot Design Center on its main campus here with high-tech tools and what it called "high end-style, spa inspired services."
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.
Executive Vice President Jason Harris, who welcomed about 200 visitors to a ribbon cutting ceremony for the design center last month, estimated the retailer's investment in the new space at about $1.5 million.
"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," Harris said. "Faster and easier are the key words for driving customer sales today."
In the third-floor design center, the retailer has consolidated all home design project resources into one spot, with access to hundreds of product catalogs and thousands of fabrics and finish samples from more than 500 suppliers.
Among the highlights are some 22 television screens, including 20 positioned over work stations that are attached to Apple TV devices, which will enable users to stream product and other images from smaller mobile devices for multiple people to see on a big screen and in high definition. Designers and clients also have 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 to fit various designer presentation preferences. Four private work spaces with frosted glass doors can be reserved for clients on extended shopping trips at the store.
And while the center features a large library area of printed catalogs, Harris made a plea to suppliers attending the ribbon cutting to do away with them in the future.
"We want you to have an app. We want you to invest in a website. We don't need printed catalogs anymore," he said, adding that they're costly to produce each year and are immediately outdated.
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. Jason Harris said the goal is to air the first episode with an actual Furnitureland South client before the High Point Market next month.
Viewers of the show 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 first 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."