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Luxury retailer Pirch taps Surface to enhance customer experience, drive business

Written By published September 1, 2016

If you’ve ever built a new home, remodeled an existing one, or simply bought a new appliance, you know that these decisions can be overwhelming and stressful (did I make the right choice?). That’s why Pirch, a first-of-its-kind appliance, plumbing and outdoor brand retailer, wanted to transform the customer experience by delivering a truly innovative approach to the appliance buying process. To do so, Pirch looked to Microsoft to provide the right technology to engage with the customer and offer a seamless and stress-free experience. That’s where Surface Pro 4 and Pirch’s custom platform, Pirch Advisor, make all the difference.

Welcome to Pirch

When you walk into Pirch, it’s immediately clear that this isn’t the average kitchen, bath and outdoor appliance store. Within minutes of stepping through the door, a Pirch team member welcomes you with a smile, and offers you a beverage – from freshly-made lemonade to an espresso. You’ll smell a chicken that’s roasting on a nearby rotisserie spit. From there, your personal Lifestyle Experience Advisor (LEA) will guide you through the showroom, allowing you to not only see, but to actually try the appliances that may one day be in your home. Pirch showrooms are living, breathing showcases of how the right product can transform your space into an expression of your lifestyle. It is a truly personal and completely unexpected experience.

Surface does for Pirch what other tablets can’t

Pirch is a great example of how businesses are taking advantage of Surface’s full PC power and sleek form factor. For Pirch, Surface allows the LEAs to tap into the company’s full platform – Pirch Advisor – which houses everything from individual client preferences and designs to Pirch’s product availability and pricing. Built on Azure, the platform utilizes Microsoft Office 365, pen and touch for everything from customer-facing tasks to managing backend business operations.

For example, when a customer sees the range of their dreams, Surface and Windows allow the customer’s LEA to utilize Pirch Advisor to seamlessly note the preference, check product availability and pricing, schedule a follow up and more – all while never having to leave the customer’s side. There’s no other device out there that can handle Pirch’s need for full PC capability with a mobile and premium design like what Surface provides. No other single product offered the robust functionality within a single operating platform.

Behind the scenes with Pirch

I had the opportunity to sit down with Craig Hills, Director of Digital Operations at Pirch, and learn more about why he trusts Microsoft to help support the company from behind the scenes business operations to enhancing its spectacular in-store experience.

As an appliance retailer, why was it so important to make sure you made the right choices when it came to technology?

Interestingly, the world of home appliances has been somewhat hesitant to fully embrace technology in the same way that other retail industries have. When you’re working with blueprints and designs, it’s still a largely analog world. At Pirch, we have such a customer-centric and personalized approach. Surface is the perfect solution for us because it integrates tightly with Pirch Advisor and our LEAs can get the full benefit of the Pirch company platform. In addition, the pen and touch capabilities help us keep the tactile element of the creation experience. It’s important that being able to create is at the heart of the experience, because that’s really what we’re doing here, helping our guests create the home of their dreams.

Knowing that, what was it about Surface that made you confident it would meet those needs?

When we first started looking at tablets, we quickly realized that only Surface was capable of the performance we needed. With Surface we use just one device for everything. Since it runs Windows, it ties in perfectly with our IT infrastructure without having to create a ‘lite version’ of Pirch Advisor during the customer shopping experience, and then transferring that information into the full system, which already runs Microsoft Windows and Office 365. That’s essentially double the work for our employees. Surface takes out that step and just does it all.

The other main qualification when we were looking at devices was a premium look and feel. Pirch is not just a store and our showrooms are like no other. We needed a device that fits that ethos. Surface has a beautiful design aesthetic, with the magnesium casing and the eye popping screen; it fits right into our image. It’s stylish and beautiful.

Has using Surface positively impacted your business?

Absolutely. From the moment we introduced employees to Surface, they loved it and could immediately see its potential. We’ve received so much feedback supporting the efficiency gains and ease of use by utilizing Surface to support back-end business operations. Not to mention the cost-savings of moving to a digital platform versus printing. Ultimately, we are most excited about the benefits that Surface has provided our guests – beginning with an outstanding experience from the moment they walk into Pirch, to the product selection and the ease of communications throughout the entire process. It’s been great.

Pirch uses a custom-built platform called Pirch Advisor on Surface. What does that offer your customers/employees, and why was Surface the best device for it to run on?

It all goes back to that personalized, joyful guest experience, and delighting them. We built Pirch Advisor with Microsoft Azure as an end-to-end platform for our business. LEAs can do everything from create a customer’s perfect kitchen to manage inventory and budgets. Not only does Surface run Pirch Advisor on the showroom floor to assist LEAs, but it’s the best device to run everyday business operations too.

With the rise of eCommerce, how do you see technology playing a role in the home appliance and broader retail industry over the next 5 years? 10?

Technology will play a huge role – at least it will for Pirch! The challenge is how do you make technology personal and use it in a way that enhances – and doesn’t detract from – the ultimate customer shopping experience. Surface does that and brings technology to the forefront in a way that feels natural and allows us to keep our focus where it should be, on the individual customers in the story. People still want and need that human touch, and Pirch was founded on the principles that people should be able to experience the things that are going to make their home, a home.

We love hearing the vision for Surface come to life for customers like Pirch, and seeing first-hand how our devices positively impact a company. We are proud of how Surface is enabling people and amazing companies like Pirch take their business to the next level.

Thank you, Craig, and the entire Pirch team for choosing Surface and letting us tell your story.