Pirch CMO To Talk About Experiential Retail In Home Appliances [PSFK 2016]
PSFK conference speaker will challenge retailers to sell experiences, not products
A 2016 study published by Home Advisor revealed the average cost of a kitchen is $20,079. When looking for new appliances, the current shopping model confronts people with a daunting row of lifeless options, lists of technical details and sales associates who have varying degrees of familiarity with the product. At PSFK’s flagship conference on May 13, we’re inviting Laith Murad to tell us how he is helping Pirch shake up this model by creating truly experiential showrooms that provide inspiration for everyone who walks through the door. We caught up with Murad to chat about crafting valuable retail experiences.
To what do you attribute the success of Pirch thus far?
There are three things that really define what Pirch is:
First, for the first time ever you’re able to see a retailer curate the best brands in kitchen, bath and outdoor, and present them to you in an environment that they were intended. They’re working, they’re live, and available for a test drive. You can actually get a feel for how they will operate in your own home.
The second thing is it allows you to really dream and imagine, “What if?” You can see things you’ve never seen before and understand how everything comes together.
The third part is that people have responded to our focus on the human experience. The genuine care people feel in our showroom, the way we treat people, and how responsive we are to customer needs has fostered strong word of mouth.
As you spread out throughout the United States, what is the culture you want to build in your stores?
We have a culture and a development team that is anchored in this notion of, ‘how do we make Pirch an authentic, genuine brand, and really embrace our guests?’ When you walk in the store we want to make sure you’re welcomed. We want to make sure we treat you like you would treat a guest in your own home. We offer you a complimentary beverage—cappuccino or infused water. We’re really letting our guests know we appreciate that they took a moment out of their day to stop in the store and look around. It’s more about authentic, genuine human emotion. It often takes guests several times of coming to a Pirch showroom before they actually buy anything. Sometimes it could be months, sometimes it could be years, and sometimes it’s the same day—but either way, that’s okay.
It sounds like you’re putting a lot of weight on the value of this experience in your stores versus other home goods stores. What led to this decision?
We started with the notion that, if you had to build a store for people designing their dream homes and forget about the industry, how would you build it? You would have everything turn on and work. You would make sure that customers would never pay more at your store than anywhere else. Lastly, you would have your own installation team so you know the job is done right. When thinking of the cost in remodeling a kitchen or bath, the appliances and plumbing products themselves are the single biggest expense. If you move, unlike furniture, you can’t take any of it with you. A Sub-Zero fridge can cost over $10,000 and a Wolf range can cost over $20,000. All of a sudden, you’re paying $30,000 and you still have the rest of the kitchen to outfit. If you’re spending that much, shouldn’t you be allowed to turn it on before you buy it? We think so.
Some brands like Lowe’s and Samsung are experimenting with full-scale, interactive digital displays to get customers interacting with virtual versions of appliances before buying it. Why did you decide to bring people the actual experience?
There is no substitute for an authentic experience and engaging the senses as you actually cook on a product. You wouldn’t go in and buy a $20,000 car without sitting down, turning it on, listening to the engine, and feeling how the steering wheel fits. Whether you take it out for a drive or not, you’d at least get comfortable with how it feels and sounds. In this industry, we’ve been taught that you should buy these appliances that you interact with multiple times a day sight unseen. What if you turn on your oven and think, “I can’t stand the beeper noise?” At Pirch, you can actually feel, touch, and play so you know beforehand.
What are some of the more unique experiences at the store?
At our stores we not only have lifestyle advisors, but we also have chefs who can teach you about each product. Before coming into a Pirch showroom, you might not know what a steam oven is, how it works, and how it can work for the way you live. For most of us, going on YouTube doesn’t really give us the answers as to how to use these appliances, so we’re there to help guide you. We want the customer to make sure it fits their lifestyle. Additionally, we want to teach you before, during, and after the purchase of your new appliance. All stores have full working kitchens so that we can host events and classes. There is also a Sanctuary where you can actually test out over 25 shower heads and take a steam or sauna.
Why don’t other home improvement stores do this?
It’s hard and requires multiple aspects of a retail experience to converge in a symphony: product, people, design, and people who care. The industry has done it the same way for a long time. They buy inventory of a certain fridge and they push that product whether it fits your lifestyle or not, regardless of the fact that there are countless variations available and ones that might work better for your family. For us, it was how do you show what’s possible? In our new SoHo store, we have 32,000 sq ft to allow people to have fun shopping for kitchen, bath and outdoor products. Most appliance retailers won’t do that because it‘s a lot easier to stack them and rack them.
What are you going to talk about at the conference?
One of the biggest challenges for us is that explaining a Pirch showroom is so difficult. It’s hard to explain a concept that is foreign to the traditional experience in the industry. How do we grow awareness of the Pirch brand and showroom experience? I’m going to talk about a new campaign that will launch on May 16, in conjunction with the opening of our SoHo flagship store. The campaign is geared toward inciting curiosity. With only seconds, we must make prospective guests want to learn more and visit the showroom. Once inside, they will quickly understand who we are.
To hear Laith and other thought leaders inspire Ideas That Transform, join us at the PSFK 2016 conference on May 13 in New York City. Check out our events page to see speakers, workshops, and more. Sign up for a PSFK membership at the checkout to save $300 on the total package. Get your tickets today!