As the UKs leading furniture and upholstery brand, DFS are always looking for ways to move their business forward and deliver a better customer experience. They built a 3D augmented reality app that would help customers find their perfect sofa, either in store or at home, and then used a group of staff champions to ensure it was a success on the shop floor.
The main thing we wanted to try to achieve was making the experience of buying a sofa easier for our customers, explained Russell Harte, DFSs head of multichannel development and delivery. We developed our app to do that, and we focused that primarily on Apple devices because iPad is something our customers are very aware of from a brand recognition point of view.
The decision to keep the app on iOS was also due to the second half of DFSs app campaign: at the same time that the app appeared on the App Store, it would be rolled out as a sales tool to 100 of their branches across the UK. Salespeople could then use the app with the customers to help them make a more informed purchase. Our store guys all intuitively knew how to use iPad, whether theyd got their own or not, said Russell. There is something about iPad which means that people can use it without any significant training.
Finding staff champions for the new app
The DFS app allows customers to create a 3D model of their room, complete with windows, doors and stairs, then position DFSs sofas and chairs in the space to see which is the best fit.
DFSs app is a great example of how mobile devices can make decision-making fun, says Martin Wright, Jigsaw24s iOS developer. It brilliantly combines 3D models with your camera, letting you turn your living room into a showroom and inviting you to explore more options before buying, so customers get a better idea of everything DFS has to offer.
In order to prepare for the rollout (and check that the app was suitable for use in store), DFSs senior team chose nine stores around the country to receive in-depth training on the app. Managers from those stores would then go to other branches in their region and act as champions, explaining how the app worked.
We visited those store managers individually, and then over a period of weeks they got to understand when was best to use it with a customer, at what point in the conversation to use it, [how to gauge] whether it really helped or whether it just made the choice too much, explained Russell. They passed on that expertise to other store colleagues in their regions, and thats how we rolled iPad and the app out.
Having champions on the sales floor also helped to reduce internal resistance to this new idea, and iron out any kinks in the app before it hit the App Store. They fed back a lot of things to change, so we took that on board before we launched it to customers and the rest of the estate, said Russell. In the room planner aspect, we got a lot of requests for doors that showed the opening arc, because a lot of furniture ends up having to fit behind a door. And then there were bits of feedback about usability - about moving the furniture around and how we displayed information and prices.
Preparing for an Apple rollout
Although they are primarily PC-based, DFS already had a management system in place for staff iPhones and their small contingent of Mac users, so in terms of infrastructure we were ready for iPad, but process-wise we still had a bit to learn. Russells main concerns have been around ensuring that updates to the app appear seamless to end users, and that the size of the updates doesnt overtax the company network. However, the update process is so smooth that the company are now rolling out extra iPad devices in some stores and recently theyve been given to senior managers to make working easier when theyre on the road.
Gauging the customer response
DFSs app has been doing incredibly well on the App Store, with over 120,000 download and a 3.5 star rating. Its faring well in store, too. From a purely anecdotal point of view, when you sit in a store and watch a customer interaction, the app leads to really, really good conversations, said Russell. This is a purchase that is reasonably expensive for most people, and its a fairly infrequent purchase as well, so trying to make sure you get absolutely the right one is very important. If you ask the store staff, particularly the ones who use iPad a lot, they will say that it allows them to have better customer conversations around the products.
Choosing an Apple partner to move forward
We already had an existing relationship with Jigsaw24, so we originally approached them to see whether we could get hold of iPad and other Apple devices [for the rollout], Russell explained.
Working with them was all very straightforward, pricing was competitive, and delivery was on time and in full, so it was all very easy for us, and thats all you can hope for when youre trying to get hardware out there quickly. Jigsaw24 do what they say theyre going to do, theyre very straightforward, and they allow you to get on with running your business and moving it forward, which is what you really want to be focusing on.
The companys next project? Building Mac-powered kiosks that will let customers interact with a larger touchscreen, and other digital signage to access marketing content thats created at head office and distributed and scheduled in the cloud. Everybodys keen that, as the market leader in the UK upholstery market, we continue to develop things that keep us in that position and move the market forward. If you want a device thats intuitive to use, has got high brand awareness and needs minimal training, iPad works really well.
Want to know more about how iPad can support your sales team? Get in touch on 03332 409 305 or email B2B@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and recommendations, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or 'Like' us on Facebook.