If you live in Austin, you’re probably more familiar with “digitally native vertical brands” than you might think. Translated to English, the term refers to retailers that start as exclusively online business and go on to open showrooms where customers can try before they buy—and then order their choices online.
Austin seems to be a popular choice for such brands to open such highly “experiential” storefronts—not really a surprise, since most sell products aimed at stylish, fashion-forward, and budget-conscious consumers (think Warby Parker, Bonobos, or ModCloth, which opened its first such shop in Austin), a consideration perhaps combined with measuring the cost of retail leasing square footage.
Interior Define, a Chicago-based furniture and home retailer, recently joined that group, opening its fourth U.S. “guideshop” in the Domain Northside last month. I/D looks to fill a gap in the custom-furniture industry, which tends toward either high-end, heirloom pieces or items you can neither try before you buy nor necessarily be assured of their quality.
I/D Guideshops allow customers to try out furniture and see design choices in person, like many design showrooms, but come with more high-tech flair: iPad-wielding, design-savvy staff members “use the brand's 3-d interface to help shoppers visualize their custom pieces,” according to a press statement.
Because we are so very techie, Austin will have the privilege of being the test market for I/D’s new in-store technology, enhanced to enable customers to view design configurations in personalized room settings and to mix in outside products with I/D sofas, chairs, and beds and transport the results home for further consideration. That hot-off-the-presses technology launched last weekend at the Domain Northside shop.