Blu Dot Clicks With Showroom Bricks

Blu Dot Clicks With Showroom Bricks

Blu Dot Clicks With Showroom Bricks 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

Minneapolis based, furniture retailer Blu Dot was founded in 1997 by two architects, Maurice Blanks, and John Christakos, and a sculptor Charles Lazor.  The brand was born out of frustration for the lack of affordable modern furniture design. At the time the only options were high-end brands like Herman Miller and B&B Italia or Ikea at the other end of the spectrum. Understanding the gap in the market, the trio set out to bring stylish and affordable furniture design to the masses.

Blu Dot Seattle Showroom Exterior

Fast forward to 20 years later, Blu Dot now has a complete contemporary collection of home goods spanning bedroom and living room furniture, storage, lighting, and accessories. While Blu Dot existed as online-only for a while, entering steadfast into the 21stcentury they decided it was time to open a showroom in Soho in 2008. The most recent Seattle showroom marks their 11thbrick-and-mortar addition.

Blu Dot Showroom Seattle
Blu Dot Showroom Seattle

The 5,800 square foot space on Capitol Hill takes shape in the Historic Coleman Automotive building. In typical showroom fashion, nothing gets sold off the floor. Everything is shipped from the brand’s Minnesota warehouse typically in 24 hours. The clean, crisp, modern showroom design mimics the product line’s minimal aesthetic.

Furniture Setting at Blu Dot
Blu Dot Seattle Showroom

Exposed timber, white walls, steel columns, and concrete floors create an industrial chic vibe. Floor to ceiling windows around the perimeter flood the space with natural light the product shine bright. An eclectic focal for the space is a 60-foot collage blends photos of the Seattle scene with pop culture references and early product sketches, demonstrating not only the brand’s personality but also process.

Blu Dot Showroom
Mural at Blu Dot Showroom
Mural at Blu Dot Showroom

“Bricks and clicks are equally important as we continue to grow our business. While our website provides an information-rich, immersive, visual experience, nothing can replace the ability to touch and feel a design in person. We believe a balanced approach is the best way to serve our growing fan base.” – Blu Dot Co-founder John Christakos.

Breaking down Blu Dot’s showroom strategy, we’ve explored why this retail model works.

Empowering Associates

With such an approachable brand attitude a physical space seems like a logical retail extension. Showrooms create an opportunity to elevate the associate role and provide further product education. It also gives Blu Dot a chance to understand consumer behaviors that can’t be explained online. Sure, ecommerce data is sophisticated, but even analysis can be subjective at times. A showroom space creates an opportunity for conversation over an online transaction.

Economical Alternative

When it comes to retail, a showroom is an extremely economical alternative. Not only does Blu Dot not need to maintain inventory in a stock room, but also it can explore smaller spaces, which means less in terms of retail leases, and can be an ideal when exploring prime metropolitan areas. Not to mention the residual effects it lends to the overall bottom line. Research conducted by AT Kearney shows that online-only players that open a store see an increase in sales of 5 to 8 times.

Emotional Connection

Without a doubt the ability to test, try, and touch product is a compelling argument. When you’re talking about furniture, which can be, a higher ticket item requiring a little more consideration, seeing is sometimes the difference in believing. If consumers are able to imagine the product in their home, then it creates an emotionally relevant imprint that is hard to erase. A Harvard Business Review article even documented that the more emotionally involved the customer becomes, the higher the chance that they buy.

Brand Awareness

Showrooms also give brands the opportunity to create awareness. The reality is that the online marketplace is getting super competitive and those pure-play brands that first broke on to the scene with social and digital advertising it’s now costing them even more. Having 500 stores across the US many never be in the cards for this brand, but having 25-30 showroom stores in select cities across the US makes sense.

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Photo Credit: Blu Dot | Chute Gerdeman

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A collection of insights research and observations across retail, restaurant, c-store and grocery. Helping brands provide a better experience for their customers. Enjoy.

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