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Thursday, June 13, 2019

What good is brick-and-mortar in the internet age? | Case Study - Business of Home

This is the third in a series of columns from Maury Riad, the founder and CEO of Fuigo.

Maury Riad, founder and CEO of Fuigo, a co-working space for designers in New York and project management software says, Think back, if you can, to what the industry looked like before the internet. Communication was slower, in-person meetings were more important, and most sourcing happened directly in showrooms. A brand’s brick-and-mortar location was the key to its success, and design centers became the gatekeepers of vendor networks.

Photo: Business of Home

A design center is like a mall: The building’s owner rents out showroom space to companies at a premium, and in exchange, the companies benefit from greater foot traffic and the added value of like-minded neighbors. It’s a mini version of aggregation theory. When brands come together in a design center, the general rule goes, more designers will interact with and purchase merchandise by virtue of there being more options to draw interest. Before the internet, the design center was a great way of finding power in numbers—and for designers, the most efficient way to shop. If you were searching for the perfect red fabric, for example, you could make one stop at the design center to see many different options rather than running around town between fabric stores.

But here’s the thing: The internet happened. And in the two decades since, it has completely upended the way designers shop. This seems obvious, but digital commerce’s not-so-subtle influence on behavioral trends has led to some surprising numbers. At Williams-Sonoma, more than half of its 2018 sales came from e-commerce; industry-wide, worldwide online furniture sales are expected to grow at an annual rate of 11.9 percent between 2018 and 2022, according to Statista...

There is real value in creating communal, industry-focused spaces. Not only does Fuigo’s co-working space allow members to share resources, like our materials library, but it also creates a dialogue between studios that allows for education and innovation. I’ve also learned to embrace technology, just as our designers have, with our new Market sourcing tool. There’s an opportunity for design centers to embrace both of these things—community and technology—in order to keep brands and designers interested and invested in their spaces. Meaningful education programs or apps that augment the physical showroom space with online purchasing capabilities are just a couple of ways that design centers could move forward.
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Source: Business of Home