Let’s talk about a collaboration that’s off to a good start: STORY has chosen a store application to add an extra ribbon to the bow of its salespeople. The brand took the plunge a few months ago and its manager, Xavier Rondeau, agreed to talk to us about marketing strategy, the genesis of the 3D catalog idea and deployment in the field.

STORY moves into 3D

STORY has 30 years of history, and has spent the last 5 years restructuring under a visionary leader.

Created 30 years ago, the brand focused on entry-level furniture, was bought by Xavier Rondeau in 2002. From the STORY of the 90’s, he kept only the name, a supplier and a store. For 5 years, the team worked hard on the restructuring to create a new franchise network, specializing in mid-range and high-end furniture. Its objective? To democratize contemporary furniture while choosing to select products made in Europe, customizable, even ultra-customizable.

Today STORY is a national network of soon fifty locations (end of 2021) spread all over France.

YUME sofa by Aerre Italia available in STORY stores

From the digital shift to the idea of 3D

STORY stores are designed to bring a certain added value to their visitors. « We wanted a “compact” store format (600 to 1200 m2) and salespeople trained to advise on product design and customization in order to make almost unique sales for each consumer » says Xavier Rondeau. Thanks to STORY’s long-standing and trusted relationship with its manufacturers, together they have developed tools (applications, configuration software) to help the vendor emphasize the customization of each piece of furniture.

The digital turn was taken 3 years ago. Xavier Rondeau has expanded his team to face these new challenges (new website, SEO, social networks) and has seen a nice increase in engagnement in recent months. « At the same time, as I had chosen customizable products for many years, I had long dreamed of a unique 3D tool that would be able to integrate all our ranges. I have been in contact with Dassault Systèmes (NDRL ex INSPI) and a number of other service providers for several years now, but I had not yet taken the plunge. We had to prepare the network to evolve in this direction: establish a global digital strategy before arriving at a 3D tool and our collaboration».

3D configuration, the logical continuation of the STORY strategy

Taking the plunge and digitizing the entire STORY catalog is a well thought-out project that meets several objectives and takes into account the support on the ground to ensure its success.

Objectives of the implementation of the STORY 3D application

Monday, May 31 was the official launch of the STORY 3D app, the digital catalog with a product customization function and augmented reality feature.
The implementation of such an application is the result of a global marketing strategy. Several objectives are displayed following the launch of this new tool:

  • The increase of the average shopping cart: « The more we facilitate the consumer’s projection into his future purchase, the easier it is to lead him towards a qualitative and above all global project » explains Xavier Rondeau. « Thus, instead of selling only a living room, it is possible to sell a complete stay and thus make a more important sale ».
  • The acceleration of decision making. His pet peeve? Hesitation. Fear of making a mistake, difficulty in imagining, projection in one’s interior. « Composing a 3D layout and visualizing it in augmented reality contributes to accelerating the decision-making process thanks to the consumer’s immediate and factual projection into his ideal future interior ».
  • The unity. It’s true that the staff of STORY stores is involved and rather loyal. Equipping them with modern tools to help them sell, right in line with the times and trends, contributes to developing an even stronger feeling of belonging.
  • Sales in the customer’s home thanks to augmented reality and access to the digital catalog.

Salespeople and training at the heart of the new STORY strategy

And since we were talking about sales representatives, we asked the question of how they perceive such technology. Enthusiastic salespeople, we were told. The acceptance of new tools is not something that happens overnight. For Xavier Rondeau, the key is to provide support. For several years now, the sales teams have been trained in the field; the training also covers the use of the tools (applications and other software provided by certain manufacturers).

STORY has invested in an Ipad pool and today each salesman has a tablet at the end of his arm: the extension of the salesman in a way! They are used to using them since they incorporate everything they need to do their job (prices, samples, presentation and training videos, photos, material presentations). With the arrival of the STORY 3D app, they are presented with a tool that concentrates almost everything they already have on the tablet: « 3D catalog that summarizes all the essentials of the business in a fun, instinctive way, in line with what we’ve been working on for a few years,” adds Xavier Rondeau. “Our trainers are working hard to help people use this new application so that it becomes a daily work tool, a major support on which the sales strategy is based ».

Planners and e-commerce site: the next digital steps for STORY

What’s next? STORY does not intend to stop there. They will continue the work started to enrich the catalog of products available in 3D in order to make it as complete as possible. The integration of STORY products in 3D libraries and the launch of their e-commerce site are the next two steps.

Integrate 3D libraries and work with interior designers

In order to go further and make the company’s products accessible to as many people as possible, the plan is to integrate the 3D products of the room planning software on the market (HomeByMe and other software on the market).

Je veux aujourd’hui que le configurateur 3D nous permette d’intégrer quelque chose de plus large que sont les logiciels de planification d’espace utilisés par le grand marché. Ces outils vont nous donner deux choses : d’une part la possibilité de projeter le consommateur dans un environnement encore plus global que le produit en lui-même : sa pièce complète ; d’autres part de pouvoir découvrir les produits par lui-même lors de la configuration de sa maison ou de certaines pièces, ce qui va nous donner de la notoriété, ancrer STORY, grâce à ces bibliothèques 3D, comme un acteur incontournable de l’aménagement de maison, qui les ramène vers nos magasins, notre site internet et vers nos vendeurs.

STORY : la configuration 3D débarque en magasin > Dassault Systèmes

The other important aspect of these 3D libraries is that they will be an approach point for architects and interior designers. It is a good way to provide these professionals with the STORY furniture that they can then integrate into the proposals for their clients. It is an upstream approach where once again 3D is the basis of the project.

An e-commerce site in the making with an integrated 3D web configurator

STORY is also working on the launch of an e-commerce site. The idea is to integrate product customization and the HomeByMe Product web configurator.

The objective of this e-commerce site and web configurator is to meet consumers’ expectations: to be able to make a purchase for their home anywhere and anytime, without depending on opening hours or the proximity of a store. Xavier Rondeau explains: « When our stores are closed late at night but a couple of consumers are quietly in their living room motivated by a STORY sofa, projecting it into their home and ready to press a button to take the plunge, it’s a shame to wait until the next day for a store to open, because anything could have happened in the meantime and the motivation could go down just as quickly. »

STORY has a clear vision: to be available for consumers when a purchase intention arises. Whether the desire to buy is in store or behind the screen at any time, the brand’s motivation is “omnichannel more than ever”. Creating this complementarity is also an asset when you consider the history of the brand, based on 30 years of tradition, and 50 stores serving their customers in-person needs. Digital is complementary and at the service of the people, because as Xavier Rondeau says so well: « We know that behind these tools there is a team, advice, the possibility of physical exchange, which is very important to me. » He concludes: « Knowing that after validating an order online, you can go to the store the next day to test the comfort of a sofa or receive advice and be reassured, it helps a consumer to let go, quite simply. »

The STORY x Dassault Systèmes collaboration, a rolling story

To conclude this study of STORY’s strategy, we can’t resist sharing with you the words of Xavier Rondeau on the collaboration and understanding of our two companies:

« There are collaborations that take well, and it’s true that it’s a collaboration that we are really very happy with and that I’m counting on a lot. […] For several years now, the contact has been qualitative, the desire has been there, and the way I still look at the work done by the teams convinced me that it was probably the right partner for us. We took the plunge, but we were prepared for it, ready to invest 200% of our resources in order to be reactive, to move quickly and efficiently. I think that the HomeByMe teams appreciated the involvement of my teams for this first step, which went quite quickly. I discovered very involved teams  and I think that they have discovered the reciprocal at STORY».

A big thank you Xavier Rondeau for your time and for unrolling for us the key steps to launch a great digital project like this one.

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