HERO® announces partnership with Herman Miller Group to extend high touch service to online customers

Design Within Reach was founded in 1998 by noted designer and entrepreneur Rob Forbes. Forbes was living in San Francisco at the time, and found that when he tried to furnish his apartment with the clean, simple classics he’d come to appreciate while living in London that works of designers such as Eames, Le Corbusier and Saarinen were largely “out of reach.”

He knew there had to be a better way, and thus the idea for DWR was formed. Forbes bought 20 containers of inventory, sent out a direct-mail catalog and the rest, as they say, is history. DWR made innovative works from iconic designers accessible for the first time, and ultimately grew into the largest premium retailer of authentic, modern design. In 2014, the brand was acquired by noted American furniture maker, Herman Miller.

High touch service

From the beginning, Forbes and the DWR team focused not just on selling, but on educating and taste-making, sharing the origin story behind each piece and the individuals who created it.

They’ve also placed a special emphasis on service. When customers visit a DWR store or “studio” they never see a “Do Not Touch” sign. DWR invites them to linger with their kids and dogs, and to tap into the expertise of their design professionals, who can help with everything from completing a room with the perfect piece to furnishing an entire house.

To ensure that DWR’s growing number of online shoppers have access to the same level of service and knowledge as its in-store customers, the digital team turned to HERO® in early 2020. Hero was rolled out to every DWR store and 150 of the brand’s design professionals. The team quickly embraced Hero’s messaging app, racking up nearly 750 new conversations per week, which translated into hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales.

“Stellar customer service is part of our DNA. We’re incredibly proud of the experience that shoppers get when they come into a studio, and now we’ll be able to extend that to our largest audience — visitors to our website,” said Ben Groom, Chief Digital Officer for DWR’s parent company, Herman Miller.

Based on the early success of the partnership, DWR’s parent company, Herman Miller is in the process of rolling out Hero to its sites and stores as well as to its portfolio brand, Hay.

The HERO® experience on DWR.com

Prior to adopting Hero, the design professionals’ sales opportunities were capped by the number of customers who came into their specific store. With Hero, they’re able to tap into a new source of website visitors and local customers who in turn benefit from their product expertise.

“The feedback from our design professionals has been absolutely phenomenal. Once they started seeing the volume of sales that their colleagues were driving through Hero, we got a flood of inquiries asking when it would be available in their store,” Groom commented.

The power of video calling

DWR has been an early adopter of Hero’s recently introduced video calling feature, described by GQ as “like FaceTiming your favorite sales associate with one- or two-click buying built in.”

They’ve used it to bring the collection to life virtually and help online customers better envision how a given piece will look in their space. This underscores the power of chat and video for online furniture shoppers, who feel much more confident about making a purchase when they’re not forced to rely solely on static photos.

Adapting to COVID-19

Hero has also been an essential part of the company’s strategy since the COVID-19 crisis has forced the temporary closure of all of their stores. While some stores have started to re-open, for those markets where they remain shuttered, online shoppers are alerted via a dedicated landing page that design associates are still available to assist them. DWR also extended Hero’s hours, ensuring that customers can be helped at a wider range of hours throughout the day and that associates — who are now working from home — have more flexibility while continuing to sell.

The value that Hero helps the in-store team unlock for online shoppers is evident from the number of repeat conversations — nearly one in five customers who chat via Hero come back a second time.

About HERO®

A leader in conversational commerce, HERO® is the messaging app designed for today’s stores, powering Nike, adidas, Levi’s, Harvey Nichols, rag & bone and more. Our technology makes it effortless to text, chat and video call with customers; growing ecommerce sales while converting URL visitors into IRL customers.

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