At Design Within Reach, we make authentic modern design accessible. Rob Forbes founded the company in 1999 when he tried to furnish his apartment with the clean, simple classics he’d come to appreciate while living in London, but found that many of his favorite designers weren’t accessible in the United States. Design Within Reach quickly took off and today has 44 retail locations across the U.S. and Canada.
In 2009, my partner and COO, John McPhee, and I decided to move the corporate office from California to Connecticut, it gave us the opportunity to reevaluate our internal operations. Our previous technology platform required us to maintain multiple servers, and moving them across the country and setting them up again would have been costly. Plus, an on-premise solution was never going to provide the ease of collaboration across our store locations and headquarters that is essential to our success. With the help of Google Apps reseller Cloud Sherpas, we decided the move was the perfect opportunity to implement Google Apps.
Before Google Apps, it wasn’t easy to share important materials like store promotion schedules, store layouts, or PR updates quickly and efficiently. Instead, we relied heavily on email for communication. In retail, things change all the time and emailing about employee schedules, promotional timelines or new merchandise availability meant that the information was quickly out of date and risked employees having inaccurate information. Google Apps changed all that. Now, our marketing team is able to track in-store promotions via shared calendars. Employees can track inventory through Google Docs, so when we have a floor sale and someone wants 4 red chairs and we only have one, we can easily hop onto Google Docs and find the chairs at another location. The customer is happy – and we’re happy because we’ve made a sale and cleared the floor.
Easily collaborating across headquarters and all our store locations helps us provide a much more consistent and inviting experience for our customers, and that’s really important to us. We want our customers to linger, bring their dog or kids, and explore and learn about design. We want our customers to be a part of something bigger than just shopping, and that’s the same way we feel about our employees. Google Apps and the ease of communication and sharing that it brings has helped us do just that.