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The furniture store of the future

From the HGO Merchandiser

 23 August 2021     Ashley Newport 

CALGARY, Alberta – While the pandemic has made life incredibly difficult for retailers of every stripe and size with rolling lockdowns and a variety of restrictions on brick-and-mortar businesses, many furniture store owners have benefitted from both a boom in online shopping and an increase in demand for household goods.

One retailer in particular has found a way to appeal to consumers who want to see and touch their future purchase in a safe, physically distanced environment while never sacrificing the opportunity to buy an item with the click of a mouse or press of a button on a touch screen.

How does it work?
dex10 is a fully automated furniture retailer occupying a recently opened 9,800 square foot space in The CORE Shopping Centre in downtown Calgary. It’s quite likely unique in the Canadian market. Customers can browse its innovative showroom full of seating, dining and bedroom options but still order as though they’re casually visiting its online counterpart or any other e-commerce store for that matter.

dex10 provides better value to Canadian consumers by addressing current inefficiencies that exist in both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores,” according to company founder and chief executive officer Geoff Dodsworth, adding, “When a consumer buys something online, one in five (20%) are returned and 75% of the reason is related to the product not being expected and 5% of the reason is poor customer service.”

Since there are no sales associates on the floor at Calgary’s newly opened dex10, customers use their smartphones to scan the QR codes places next to each sample on the display. Information about the product is then shown on the screen.Prior to founding dex10, he worked with a company that dealt with a large volume of furniture returns.

“We looked at the wastage for when products show up that are bought online and are returned because they were the wrong colour or didn’t fit well in the room,” he says, noting while ordering from an online retailer like Amazon or Wayfair is easy, customers can end up unsatisfied with a product they couldn’t see or touch pre-purchase.

Dodsworth also says when he was thinking about different sales models, he noticed people who shop for furniture in person often end up paying more in the end because the cost of consulting with a salesperson is baked into the purchase price.

“dex10 was the brainchild of seeing an opportunity in a market and saying, ‘I can literally, product for product, offer consumers lower cost of acquisition than any other business.’ We wanted to eliminate the cost of the salesperson and what was lacking was the ability to get consumer questions answered,” Dodsworth says.

The solution? Allow customers who are browsing furniture in the store to quickly and easily consult a well-known expert who can tap into an incredible wealth of knowledge: Amazon’s Alexa.

“Alexa can answer the questions commonly answered by a salesperson. Taking that cost out, we can be more competitive,” he says.

Although the idea for dex10 began brewing some time ago, Dodsworth only opened the company’s flagship location in December 2020 – just a few months ago.

“We launched this flagship at an ultra-luxury retail space to give us exposure to the market and we thought it was a really good backdrop. We’re downtown, right beside Holt Renfrew,” he says, adding he and his team tested the concept at a warehouse for two years to see if people would purchase products at a store with no salespeople. 

Click here to read the rest of Ashley’s report in the HGO Merchandiser….

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This HGO article was written by:
Ashley Newport
Ashley Newport

A regular contributor to HGO Merchandiser, Ashley Newport is a Toronto-based freelance journalist who writes primarily for trade and business publications. Her specialties include food, hospitality and emerging social/business trends.

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Home Goods and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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