Design Within Reach was founded in 1998 by noted designer and entrepreneur Rob Forbes. Living in San Francisco, Rob found that when he tried to furnish his apartment with the clean, simple classics he’d come to appreciate while living in London, he learned that the works of designers such as Eames, Le Corbusier, and Saarinen were largely out of reach.
Rob knew there had to be a better way and the idea for DWR was formed. He bought 20 containers of inventory, sent out a direct-mail catalog, and the rest is history. DWR made innovative works from iconic designers accessible for the first time, ultimately growing into the largest premium retailer of authentic, modern design. In 2014, the brand was acquired by noted American furniture maker Herman Miller.
From the beginning, Rob and the DWR team focused not just on selling, but on educating and elevating taste, 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 accent piece to furnishing an entire house.
Making High-Touch Service Available to All
To ensure 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 virtual shopping tools, racking up nearly 750 new conversations per week, translating to 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,” says Ben Groom, Chief Digital Officer for DWR’s parent company, Herman Miller Group.
Herman Miller Group has since rolled out Hero across its sites and stores, in addition to other brands in its portfolio, including Hay.
“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.”
Expanding Sales Beyond the Four Walls of the Physical Store
Prior to adopting Hero, sales opportunities for design professionals 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,” comments Ben.
Bringing Products to Life With Video Calling
DWR was an early adopter of Hero’s video calling feature, described by GQ as “like FaceTiming your favorite sales associate with one- or two-click buying built in.”
They’re leveraging video calling to bring collections to life virtually and help online customers better envision how a piece will look in their space, giving them the confidence to follow through with expensive purchases. In fact, Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2020 yielded a basket size of $20,619.62, placed by an online customer shopping virtually with an associate at DWR’s Charlotte, North Carolina location.
Design Professionals Keep Selling While WFH
Hero has also been an essential part of the company’s strategy since the pandemic forced the temporary closure of all their stores. While stores were shuttered, online shoppers were alerted via a dedicated landing page that design associates were still available to assist them.
DWR also extended associate hours, ensuring that customers can be helped at a wider range of hours throughout the day and that design professionals—many of whom are working from home—have more flexibility while continuing to sell.
The value that Hero brings to both associates and online shoppers is evident from the number of repeat conversations: nearly one in five customers who shop virtually through Hero return to shop virtually a second time.