Originally published on Hufft's blog, read the post here.
Tuft & Needle – Kansas City: better sleep starts with better stores.
Founded in 2012 by two college friends turned software engineers, Tuft & Needle was born out of frustration with the then-lack of transparency in the mattress industry. After a few disappointing buying experiences, the founders set out to build a mattress brand that would prove business can be honest, and premium products don’t need to come at premium prices. Their disruption in the mattress industry began with their products, and has since expanded to the built retail environment. Our team was engaged to help Tuft & Needle with their retail expansion because of our integrated design and fabrication approach, and experience creating high-quality designs for both residential and retail clients.
An overwhelming sea of mattresses below harsh fluorescent lighting has been a long-time standard for mattress stores, but you won’t find either of those at Tuft & Needle. Designed to feel more residential, stores are driven by experience more than they are sales. Retail locations are relaxed, with minimal product and soft, indirect lighting that gives customers a more comfortable environment to test out mattresses.
Tuft & Needle stores are fully-integrated with the e-commerce experience, too. Should a customer decide to purchase a mattress while in-store, there’s no coordinating an inconvenient delivery, or transporting a bulky mattress from the store to your home. Customers can place their order from an iPad in store or purchase directly on their phones from the company’s website, with as little or as much help from store associates as they’d like. There’s no pressure from store associates to make a purchase, either while visiting stores or after the fact.
In the Kansas City store specifically, our shop designed and fabricated 10-foot rolling screens to provide privacy for each of the residential-scaled spaces showcasing product. A large, custom storage cabinet with a pegboard display wall allows the store to efficiently showcase and stock Tuft & Needle items that are sold in-store, like bedding. The store’s minimal, peaceful interior serves as a backdrop to the product and client experience.
The challenges Tuft & Needle’s founders identified and sought out to correct are not isolated to the mattress industry. Across all retail sectors, many of the same trends are driving the significant changes we continue to see in the way we market, sell and buy goods. Customers want a simplified experience that’s more convenient and more personal at the same time, with fewer barriers between them and a product.
Smaller, more intimate shopping experiences that can easily accommodate fast-paced lifestyles continue to win in both small and large-scale settings. Consumers also want total omni-channel shopping capabilities, but with distinct experiences catered to online and in-store. In a market that’s overly-saturated and increasingly-competitive, many retailers are facing the same challenge: stand out, or step aside. Tuft & Needle is one company doing the former.