When the staff in Lovesac‘s Stamford, Conn. headquarters and 91 retail showrooms began to work from home under COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, people had many things on their minds, but they didn’t have to worry about how to easily and efficiently communicate within the organization. “I think they went home feeling very comfortable that they had an information conduit that gave them the ability to continue business as much as was necessary,” said David Jensen, CIO/CTO at Lovesac in an interview with Retail TouchPoints.
Since shortly after Jensen joined the company almost three years ago, Lovesac has been using the Opterus platform for internal communications as well as to manage and execute tasks at its showrooms. Although Opterus’ OpsCenter is cloud-based and accessible through any Internet-connected device a Lovesac employee uses, it is secure and available only to authorized employees, whose ability to view or make changes to information is based on their designated roles.
In contrast to email or general-use communications platforms that flood users with information from any source, the OpsCenter provides “only what is essential and important to the Lovesac mission,” Jensen said. The operations management team is in charge of deciding what goes into the OpsCenter and making sure it doesn’t get filled up with unnecessary and distracting clutter. “I see them as the curators of the content,” he added.
“We try to drive all business tasks and communications through the OpsCenter channel because we don’t want anyone to ever miss something important because they didn’t look in the right place,” Jensen explained. “We tell people, ‘If you’ve looked at OpsCenter, you’ve looked where you need to look.’”
The core audience for the OpsCenter is the retail operations and sales teams, including director-level and regional managers, district managers, store managers and sales managers. Before the stores closed, which led to the layoff of Lovesac’s part-time staff, approximately 600 people — about 75% of all company employees — were using OpsCenter, according to Jensen.
“The OpsCenter has a dashboard for at-a-glance updates and high-importance or time-sensitive material,” said Jensen. “So, for example, store management would get a notice that says, ‘Flash sale begins in 36 hours. Click here for signage.’ They would also find the instructions and a task list for posting the signs and executing the promotion. The OpsCenter is also the first point of reference when anyone in the store has an immediate need, like if the electricity goes out. It is integrated directly with our help desk.”
Jensen had used OpsCenter for approximately two years in his prior position as Senior Director of Information Services at J.Jill. “I feel they truly understand the retail business and the needs of the business,” he said. “I have been very satisfied with the effectiveness of their tools in supporting and enabling our business.”
Lovesac Sees Online Spurt While Showrooms Are Closed
During the shutdowns, Lovesac relied on its roots as an e-Commerce retailer. “The nature of our furniture is that it breaks down into flat packs that can be shipped as parcels. Virtually everything is delivered by FedEx,” Jensen explained. The showroom infrastructure has grown to supplement e-Commerce over the years because “it’s hard for some consumers to make a purchase of several thousand dollars without touching the fabric and sitting on the cushions,” he added.
For its Q1 ended May 3, Lovesac reported a 32.8% year-over-year increase in net sales. Showroom revenues dipped 32.7% after they were closed from March 18 through the end of the quarter, but e-Commerce sales surged 255.4%.
When they are operating, the showrooms carry almost no inventory. “They have very small footprints, only 800 to 1,200 square feet,” he said. “Because our sales-per-square foot are so high, we can be very selective about the malls we go into. Most of our locations are in A-level malls, and we have two street-front locations, in the Flatiron District in New York and on Walnut Street in Philadelphia.”
As governments allow stores to reopen, Lovesac is following a three-stage reopening concept. “First we have the showrooms available for video chats and phone call consultations. Then we move to limited access to the showrooms by appointment. Finally, we open to the public,” Jensen said.
“We had approximately 50% of the showrooms open for video or phone consultations or by appointment at one point,” he added. However, due to recent outbreaks, “we have reversed course. Now more than one-quarter but less than one-half are open in some fashion.”