August 12, 2010, 4:42 PM

Custom iPad app saves retailer money and polishes its image

Arhaus Furniture app communicates with the store’s fulfillment and delivery systems.

Lead Photo

The furniture retailer will soon use a custom-made iPad application designed to create efficiencies in its fulfillment and delivery systems and increase customer satisfaction.

Arhaus Furniture, a high-end multichannel furniture retailer with stores in 13 states in addition to a print catalog and an e-commerce site at Arhaus.com, approached TOA Technologies in May to create the application. The commission is TOA’s first iPad application, says Richard Chinitz, director of marketing for TOA. The completed application, expected to launch Nov. 1, integrates with TOA’s Internet-based mobile workforce management system, which Arhaus uses to manage 40,000 in-home deliveries annually.

“The iPad is an amazing product on its own, but its real power and potential for us as a company comes from what the TOA app will enable us to do with the iPad’s many unique features,” says John Roddy, senior vice president of logistics and distribution at Arhaus.

Most of the app’s features are designed for customer use. Upon arrival at a customer’s home, the driver gives the customer the iPad, which launches a welcome and thank you message from the retailer. The application then shows different furniture setup options. The application also includes a full product catalog, which Roddy says is an element of the app that will help encourage repeat purchases. “We’re definitely looking for a five to 10% increase in repeat customers through the app,” Roddy says.

Customers sign off on deliveries using their fingers on the touch screen. The application shares this information immediately with billing and customer service. The app also features a post-delivery survey the customer fills in on site.

Roddy says the application will help improve customer service and responsiveness because it will be in constant contact with the TOA-provided mobile workforce management system, which connects points within the fulfillment and delivery systems. For example, if a product appears damaged upon set-up, the driver uses the application to immediately notify the warehouse so a replacement can be sent.

With each of the company’s 52 delivery drivers carrying an iPad, Arhaus also considers the application a brand image investment. “Arhaus is trying to utilize all the iPad’s capabilities so they can further support their brand and make purchasing from them a premium, upscale experience,” Chinitz says.

 Arhaus and TOA declined to reveal the application’s development cost, but Roddy expects to see $30,000 in annual cost savings in reduced paper costs alone. He says the application also will create operational efficiencies in-house and help in delivery planning. Drivers, for example, will use the application to view and interact with their route maps, which helps provide the consumer with a narrower delivery time window and reduces missed deliveries. Roddy projects that Arhaus will recoup its investment in the application and hardware in 13 months. 

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