It is that time of year again where we are planning for our big annual floor change! This will be my second time going through the process as our store’s Retail Merchant Liaison, although last year it was more of a collaboration with our Leadership Associate who was transitioning out of the role. By the end of the month we should have most of the information about new products, collections, finishes, and fabrics being added to our assortment for next year, as well as what items will be dropping.
Compared to many other companies, I think we do a lot of the work directly in our stores. While our Central offices give directives in terms of what products need to be represented, and the best pairings of items, we actually get to ultimately determine at the store level how each room setting pulls together. This allows the showroom to really interpret Room & Board’s overall branding message in a way that speaks to customers in our local market through finish choices, pairings, and accessories.
At this point, we have been busy gathering information from all of our Design Associates in group discussions or individual feedback. While we can’t act on every piece of advice, it helps to have this “front line” information to see what our customers are wanting to see and how Design Associates are utilizing the showroom as a sales tool. I’ve also been having discussions with our Visual and Leadership Associates to help get a sense of what is working in the showroom currently that we would want to protect, and what spaces will be best to register changes and new products.
You can see in the picture above that we’ve got two maps up right now. The left one is the current showroom working map, and the right one is our 2016 planning map. Post-its are our best friend as we start to determine what the showroom journey will look like for next year. They let us brainstorm and place items/collections on the map, with the flexibility of being able to make changes at this early stage. Upholstery (Sofas and Sectionals) is really where we start since that makes up the largest percentage of the business. As the Retail Merchant, my role is really focused on making sure our store represents the right items and finishes to increase sales. I work closely with the Visual Associate who determines the overall “look” of the showroom and styles the room settings, and then we partner with our Inventory Associate to actually execute changes and manage product coming into and out of the store. Together, we make up the “Triangle Team.”
Of course, this process takes a lot of time and energy. Seattle is actually one of the smallest showrooms in the company at the moment, so I can only imagine what a store like San Francisco with three different levels goes through in their planning! Of course, being a smaller store, we have our own unique challenges around representation as we have to decide what not to show due to space limitations.
I’ll keep blogging about our floor change process in Seattle over the next few months since that will be what I’m up to right now. Also, it is such a complex and multi-faceted project, with so many people working together, and every store has a unique experience, so I’m sure it will offer a lot to write about!