Amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City, we found a first-of-its-kind retail showroom. PIRCH, located in SoHo, specializes in fixtures and appliances for the kitchen, bath and outdoors and provides its customers with a deluxe shopping experience. We took a tour last week.
The PIRCH business philosophy is simple and guided by three principles: honesty, transparency and accountability. Jeffery Sears and James Stuart started PIRCH out of frustration in 2009 in San Diego. These construction veterans often found themselves, in their words, “let down by the industry,” so they decided to create a place where they would like to shop if they were a customer. Chief Executive Officer Jeffery Sears’ direct telephone number is displayed on the wall in each PIRCH showroom in case customers have any questions, a rare move. The firm strives to create a, “worry-free zone,” where customers never have to agonize over price, biased opinions or delivery and installation. Most importantly, the company said they want
customers to enjoy the products they purchase, so they offer a unique in-store experience to showcase their merchandise.
Customers are urged to test out their products before they buy to make sure they like them. They are surrounded by the concept of experimental retail; everything in the store is interactive. When a faucet is turned, water flows; when a switch is flicked, light shines. Rooms, such as the Sanctuary, can be rented so customers can test showerheads, baths and saunas.
In addition to taking a shower in the showroom, shoppers are encouraged to cook a meal. PIRCH offers cooking classes every Saturday in their state-of-the-art showroom kitchens. World renowned chefs—including Sam Kass, former White House Chef—lead demonstrations for small groups. They instruct students on how to use modern tools created by companies, such as Innit, the world’s first connected food company. Innit manages and connects food information with appliances and devices. PIRCH teaches families how to understand and use these modern technologies to reduce waste and cook more, in order to bring joy back to the kitchen.
PIRCH wants to produce and radiate joy in every showroom experience. Their staff makes sure their clientele are comfortable and taken care of. A café greets people when they walk through the door; complimentary food and beverages are offered to customers while they browse. PIRCH believes these extra store features motivate consumers to rethink their own homes. PIRCH’s objective is to inspire customers to upgrade appliances, and the company is there to help. According to CNBC, some of PIRCH’s showrooms sell more than $3,000 per square foot, a feat accomplished only by small-format Tiffany and Apple stores.
The employees strive to exude the company’s character and are readily available to answer customer questions. Every employee takes part in a five-day training course on how to work joyfully, during which they explore the company’s 23 “elements of joy.” Although many retailers use this training period to teach employees the “nuts and bolts” skills such as running the computer system, PIRCH capitalizes on this time and uses a different approach. They focus on the human aspect. They invest in the emotions of their employees because employees are the “people who represent the culture [they] define,” said Sears. This “joy” training was clearly evident during our visit.
Despite its luxurious nature PIRCH has something to offer to everyone, including moderate-income shoppers. For instance, they sell pizza ovens for a reasonable $89. They also keep their prices steady with the manufacturer’s suggested retail price so consumers have no reason to buy anywhere else. If a customer does find a product cheaper elsewhere, PIRCH will match that price.
The company built its reputation largely through word-of-mouth advertising. However, the business lacks an important category: omni-channel. PIRCH lacks a proper digital strategy and an e-commerce website where customers can buy products online. They currently have a website where customers can register for cooking classes and learn more about PIRCH, but it is otherwise feeble. The company is working with agencies now and plans to launch a shopping site soon.
With nine locations nationwide, the company continues to grow and plans to open four locations per year. PIRCH’s showroom spaces in luxury malls and standalone retail spots in high-end neighborhoods have disrupted the retail industry. We believe PIRCH has increased consumers’ expectations of the in-store experience for home furnishing companies. Based on our experience at the SoHo location, the showroom’s modern atmosphere presented technology-for-the-home well. A revolutionary concept within the retail and tech world, it is the store of the future.
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