By Jennifer Brown
It’s been a year since we opened The Vignette Room, and we’ve loved offering customers a homewares haven within a sumptuously styled terrace house. Here are some in-store advantages that we think website shopping just can’t match.
We’re talking about the tactile joy our customers feel at getting up close and personal with our products. We believe a home – and a homewares store – should delight all the senses, and we encourage visitors to soak up our styling, inhale our candles, listen to our playlists and cuddle our cushions. The only sense we haven’t covered yet is taste and it’s next on our list – stay tuned.
There’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation for allowing you to immediately understand a customer’s needs – and to respond to them. When customers show us images of their spaces and tell us about a look they want to achieve, we’re able to get a feel for their style and make on-the-spot recommendations. We’ll also source products at customers’ request, a service that’s easier to arrange in person.
Because our store is set up like an “open home” display – admittedly a lavishly decorated one – we encourage customers to lose themselves in it and forget about their to-do list for a while. Having everything at your fingertips is an opportunity to interact with the products, to see scale, colour, fabrics for yourself and how they work in a space.
Styling ideas can be demonstrated more easily (and more lovingly) in an actual home space than on a screen. It also lets us show products in a new light via different, dramatically layered displays. We’ve used a chandelier as a table centrepiece and arrayed blue and white ceramics en masse – both these vignettes drew lots of attention.
By this we mean good old-fashioned customer service – providing that sense of feeling looked after, which can become lost in an online experience. There’s something thrilling about making a purchase, watching it being wrapped in chic tissue and then walking out the door with a crisp new shopping bag. We also offer a concierge service with private viewing times for customers who want that little something extra.
Standing out in an online world can be difficult, but walk into our store and you see our distinct styles. Mum favours bling while I prefer bohemian – and it’s how we combine these in-store, where you can see the eclectic mix, that sets us apart. Plus we both have so many of the different products in our own homes that we can personally vouch for them!
Walk in, spot something, buy it, walk out – oh, the joy of in-store shopping! There’s no waiting on shipping or worrying that a gift won’t arrive on time. What’s more, the product you see is the product you take home. We understand that not everyone makes the right decision straightaway, so we allow customers to observe the product they’ve purchased in their space and exchange or refund if it doesn’t suit.
We knew it was an unorthodox choice to open a store in a Paddington terrace back from the main strip, but the space fitted our vision and we’re dedicated to making it work. Our shop-front stands out in the mix of terraces and has a strong appeal to walk-by traffic. We build further on our local audience by supporting school fundraisers and forging relationships with cafes. From there, word spreads.
Seeing how our customers shop allows us to adapt our store to meet their interests. We never intended our furniture range to be a focus, but rather as a display that supported our décor and accessories. However, the response to the original pieces was so positive that unique but affordable furniture has now become one of our most popular offerings.
While we love delivering a unique in-store experience, we know that an online presence is necessary – we want customers everywhere to have access to our products! We believe that our store, our website and our social media activity all work together and enhance one another. In a recent blog, we’ve offered to style our customers’ favourite products on Facebook – a way of extending into the digital space the sort of inspiration they can find in the store.
–Jennifer Brown and Tracey Kennedy are co-owners of Sydney homewares store The Vignette Room.