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The Tile Shop is on a mission to make home improvement easier
Whether you’ve recently bought a house or have renovated yours, you know how the right touches can spruce things up and make it uniquely your home. The Tile Shop’s “extraordinary people inspiring extraordinary spaces” help customers find the exact products they want – from over 5,000 designs by The Tile Shop or in partnership with specialty designers. With 143 stores in 31 states and Washington, D.C., plus 150 vendors in 30 countries and a growing e-commerce business, The Tile Shop requires extraordinary technological capabilities to “influence how people interact with their homes to make them exactly what they’re looking for,” as CIO Christopher Davis put it. Davis sat with BOSS to discuss the strides the organization has made in his nearly two years on the job, the challenges faced, and the ones ahead.
Davis regularly hears from CEO Cabell Lolmaugh that every time he wants to launch a new initiative, technology is required for it. So, Davis and the IT team – which the company has doubled – have set about laying the foundational work to use technology as an enabler to keep The Tile Shop competitive in the marketplace and focused on top-notch customer service.
Among the wholesale changes, they’ve replaced every store network, upgraded phone and ERP systems, and migrated to Microsoft 365.
“We have just launched our point-of-sale pilot, transforming the experience that our sales associates have when they interact with their customers,” Davis said.
The ultimate objective is to make that experience fully mobile-enabled by the end of the year.
The team is stabilizing core applications, optimizing the supply chain, and enabling better business decisions from a data perspective.
Though labor and equipment shortages have thrown up stumbling blocks, with some upgrades that would typically take four to six months taking a year “literally because we couldn’t get people to install things,” Davis said, “we’ve moved very rapidly for the things we have accomplished.”
“What I haven’t run into is any resistance in the organization,” he said.
The Tile Shop culture has been open to these big changes.
Where They Want to Be
Across the board, from executives to associates, employees have been so receptive to the changes because they deliver an improved, targeted customer experience. Whether on The Tile Shop website or through email or other direct communications, customers will see improved capability.
“We’re going to meet them where they want to be,” Davis said, “and allow them to make the decisions they want to make, when they want to make them and how they want to make them.”
When customers go to select a product and make a purchase, they’ll be armed with the information they need to choose and be happy with their home’s new look. Though they might still want to come into the store to see the tile in person and touch it before they buy, customers will know what they want when they walk in the store. They may have even used The Tile Shop’s visualizer tool to see how the tile will look in their space.
“We’re speeding up the experience that has been there in the past so that they can complete their transaction and go on with their life,” Davis said.
Customer preferences have changed, and they want to start the process online in the comfort of their own homes before closing the deal.
Keeping Data Safe
With any large tech expansion, there’s a huge influx of data, and The Tile Shop is putting cybersecurity at the forefront of this overhaul. The company never holds customers’ card data, keeping only data it needs and that is valuable to the customer experience.
While a lot of the digital transformation is foundational, The Tile Shop is trying to leapfrog technology in certain areas, especially AI and machine learning. On the website, this includes using machine learning to improve customer searches and give more personalized product recommendations. Machine learning is also identifying the potential for risk to shut down potential breaches.
As a midsize enterprise, The Tile Shop works with a few key strategic long-term partners. Insight is one in particular that helps Davis and his team put tech solutions in place and keep data secure.
“We have made significant progress,” Davis said. “All of those things are in place to make sure that our customer can have confidence that when they’re working with The Tile Shop, they’re working with a service provider that really guards their information as an asset.”
‘So Many Opportunities’
The Tile Shop has made great strides in its digital journey, and the journey is far from over. As mentioned, associates will be equipped with tablets in stores to showcase products and speed transactions. The organization is evaluating potential data analytics partners and investing in future growth areas.
A solution for improved supply chain visibility – “Amazon-like visibility,” as SVP of supply chain Joe Kinder terms it – is in progress so that The Tile Shop can know exactly where a product is and when it’s going to arrive at the customer's door. That solution also uses machine learning to project any potential delays.
The people-first culture they are building at The Tile Shop will give associates the tools they need to make the right business decisions, along with holding them and their leaders accountable.
“We’re very cognizant that our culture needs to continually improve,” Davis said. “I think the quote is, ‘Change or die.’ In the retail world, that’s truly the case.”
The Tile Shop is meeting the challenge head-on.
“There are so many opportunities in our business, from growth opportunities to service capabilities, to simply making it easier to do business with The Tile Shop. “We’re getting better every day, and the exciting part is there’s still so much to be done.”
The Tile Shop is a leading specialty retailer of man-made and natural stone tiles, setting and maintenance materials, and related accessories. The company offers a wide selection of high-quality products, exclusive designs, knowledgeable staff, and exceptional customer service – all in an extensive showroom environment with up to 50 full-room tile displays. With an average size of 20,000 square feet, The Tile Shop’s 143 stores (located in 31 states and the District of Columbia) have everything you need for your next project.
Phone Number: 888 398 6595
Homepage Link: https://www.tileshop.com/