The Name: Pirch
The Place: It’s an American concern with eight showrooms dotted around the big cities.
The Story: Who hasn’t seen that really funny joke on social media which goes along the lines of: “Just been to the toilet in B&Q…Mind you not sure the staff liked it – seems they’re not plumbed in.”
That’s hilarious. How can I have missed it? Not following the right people. Anyway, the point is that the high pinnacle of buying large home appliances in your average home décor superstore is sitting on a show room toilet and giggling.
I’m sure we’ve all done it: How tedious is the endless traipsing around trying to turn on taps that don’t work, prising oven doors that won’t open, getting into showers and imagining what the water pressure might feel like.
Totally: And then when the thing is installed in your home, you find out too late that it is not the right thing and doesn’t suit your needs at all. Well those days are gone.
No! Well, if you live near a Pirch showroom they are anyway.
But we don’t: Bear with, dear, bear with. They might open here in the UK. Do you want to know how it works or not?
Sorry: In Pirch the toilets really are plumbed in. And some of the showers actually work. And the ovens in the kitchen area can really cook things. And washing machines will spin no less.
OMG. Do you mean that you can walk in off the street with your dirty washing and try it out: You know I just knew you would get carried away with this and get silly. But yes, in theory you can do some washing in the shop.
Every week? Just leave the washing thing now. Pirch is perceived to be a high-end shop stocking pretty expensive brands so seeing which machine best washes an angora jumper is more what they would be expecting.
Is there a ban on ‘smalls’? Can we please move on. The theory behind Pirch, which was founded in 2009 by two men who had obviously spent far too much time in Home Depot, is that for very expensive items that really make a difference to how you live and entertain and function as a household it is madness not to try before you buy.
Totally agree: So, for instance each store has a (private) reservable shower section where you can try out various showers to see which one best suits you, or step into a sauna or a steam bath tub.
Free spa. What’s not to like: And then obviously there is the kitchen department.
Crikey. Can you invite people and cook a dinner party using all the ovens? Steady on, this is after all America, the litigation capital of the world, so no. But every store has a team of chefs on hand all the time who are constantly cooking on the appliances and answering consumer questions and providing free food of course. Additionally the stores run cooking classes which are extremely popular and book out months in advance.
Well now correct me if I’m wrong but this constant feeding and watering of people who wander in off the street seems rather expensive: It is. But founders Jeffery Sears and Jim Stuart do not spend anything at all on advertising. Instead the marketing budget is all taken up with the customer satisfaction side of things.
I’m also thinking that a trip to Pirch is not to be undertaken when you only have a few minutes to spare… And you would again be correct. This must be some kind of record. The average visit to Pirch lasts a whopping two hours. But by the time you have had your complimentary barista-made coffee on arrival, eaten freshly prepared snacks from the kitchen department, showered in the bathroom section, watched a bit of television while your balldress gets spun dry and the children do their homework on the counters, well, tempus fugit (time flies to you and me).
I recall at Ikea in China they had a real problem with people just coming in and sitting on the sofas all day and talking to their friends, and buying precisely nothing. Got to be a danger of that here right? Doesn’t seem so yet. According to US media several Pirch stores post sales of $3,000 per square foot. That’s right, up there with Tiffany and Apple.
Wowzer. But how does all this in-store pampering translate to the online world: In short it doesn’t. The founders are secure in their belief that this kind of experience-led retailing environment is the way forward for shops but they acknowledge that their website doesn’t do much beyond inform on the range although a shoppable version is being developed. For now it’s all about the stores of which they hope to open three every year.
Same format? No, each one is different. If there is a typical building material used in a city then they will reproduce kitchens and bathrooms with that. In the New York store due to open next year they will cater to the fact that customers may well either be shopping for their country house or their in-town apartment.
Aha, now we get to it. It’s for the seriously rich: No, not at all – 70% of the customers are professional – yes. But the store says it starts where the ranges of Home Depot leave off – which isn’t that high-end, trust me and many of the supplier names are household favourites. But the company does struggle with that perception.
Me and my smalls could really help them with that though. Just saying: Thanks I’ll alert them to this new marketing option right away.
PCMS is a global provider of IT software, specialising in retail services, including point of sale (PoS) software, contact centre and IT support services. It is a pioneer in developing mobile retail solutions, including customer shopping apps and mobile PoS. Its client list includes John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Whole Foods, as well as Walgreens in the US and fashion brands including Prada and Ferragamo across Europe.