Apple, IBM Partner To Focus City Furniture On Cross-Channel Experiences

Despite the technical difficulties of transitioning from a mainframe computer system to an iPad in-store sales tool, IBM has partnered with Apple to bring City Furniture, a privately owned South Florida furniture store, into the twenty-first century.

The two companies worked with City Furniture to develop MobileFirst for iOS apps for the iPad. Sales Assist, Payment, and Finance will roll out to 400 store associates across 15 City Furniture showrooms, and 12 Ashley Furniture HomeStore showrooms, in south Florida.

Marketers often talk about improving the online experience for consumers, but with Google and others tying physical store experience to online advertising it becomes more important to bring that synergy into the store.

Working with a City Furniture store associate in Apple's Cupertino, California headquarters became a critical step in the app-development process to help developers create the iOS apps tailored to the specific needs of the store.

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The stores have seen an average increase in the average order value for each sale since using the iPad apps. The AOV for each invoice rose about 5%, per Brittany West, sales manager at City Furniture.

She attributes the increase to the ability of sales associates to search across the store's entire inventory by category, styles and showroom location, as well as the top sellers by price to determine the most popular styles at any given moment. It also sorts by price, color, fabric, size and many of the usual criteria. 

West said the information also helps the store merchandise the showrooms based on the location of the store. "We can track how many people that come into a store look at a specific sofa," she said.

IBM enabled the existing customer records to connect to the new platform running on an Apple iPad.

Existing and new data collected about consumers within the store provides opportunities to remarket those who have visited the showrooms. Rodney Bryant, IBM Retail Industry Lead For the Apple Partnership, said consumers are sometimes more educated on a specific product than the sales associate. They walk into the store knowing more about the product because they have searched and researched reviews.

The apps allow the store to record the shopper's style preferences and use the information to market and remarket to them at a later time.

Previously when customers had questions or wanted to look at different styles of furniture, City Furniture store associates wrote down the information and walked the showroom to find the correct products. The apps give City Furniture store associates real-time access to the more than 8,000 product numbers complete with images, product information, colors, styles, and unique customer profiles at their fingertips.

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