Esther Taunton 05:00, Apr 14 2022
There’s a new way to shop for beds in Auckland, with potential buyers now able to test the merchandise in a remote access, unstaffed showroom.
Online bed retailer Comfi developed its “bed hub” to cater to those wanting to test beds after hours and away from other shoppers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The experience is described as a hybrid between a keyless entry hotel room and a traditional showroom, with customers browsing a range of beds online before receiving a code to access the hub for their “Goldilocks experience.”
But while the central city store is sans salespeople, shoppers are not completely without an audience.
Comfi co-founder Vicki Ericksen said the showroom was monitored with CCTV cameras and the single-use access codes allowed entry only within a defined period.
“We’re conscious that having a bed showroom that is accessible at all hours might entice some consumers into more amorous activity during their visit,” she said.
“However we are confident the security measures we have in place will act as an effective deterrent in this situation.”
Eriksen said shopping was still a tactile experience for many New Zealanders and almost every physical trial in the showroom had led to a sale.
“We know that for many of us, one of the main barriers to online purchasing is the need to see and feel a product.
“This is particularly the case for high involvement purchases, such as a bed, where the consumer will spend a large amount of time in it but traditionally spends only a few minutes evaluating its suitability in a retail store environment.”
Eriksen said bricks and mortar bed shopping could be uncomfortable for some people.
“[It] can create a degree of unease when it comes to lying down with your feet up on a bed, all while standing beside a stranger in a big box retail showroom.
“We also know there are a number of customers, many of whom are female, who prefer to shop at their own pace. In this way they can try a bed in a tranquil, private space away from the gaze of high-pressure salespeople as they lie between the sheets during their trial.”
The remote access retail model could be applied in a variety of industries, Eriksen said. For example, one of Comfi’s shareholders operates a chain of hotels with the remote access technology which has helped extend the concept into a retail environment.
“The reality for many consumers now is that they want to be able to shop online any time of the day or night and the traditional bricks and mortar retail model has not effectively caught up with this shift in expectations.
“The ability to do this during a Covid environment is also increasingly important for a large segment of consumers who are now risk-averse to traditional retail store environments.”