Pamela Opie, CEO & Founder of Linen Obsession, explains how the home textiles company is redefining the ‘Phygital’ experience for the GCC retail market.
Linen Obsession operates the only dedicated linen, bedding and home fragrance business in the gulf, which customises and sells more than a dozen European brands, with their staff priding themselves on deep technical knowledge of the category.
“Phygital” retail lies at the heart of Linen Obsession’s mission. Their customers can move seamlessly between Linen Obsession’s retail stores and online shopping; both channels use the same retail POS system and retail staff will transfer customers to the VIP ecommerce customer service team, should they require a home visit to check linen colours against their décor, or have physical bed sizes measured.
Their beautiful Dubai flagship store is located at Mirdif City Centre, as well as a robust digital presence that powers its entire e-commerce business. This includes the convenience of WhatsApp shopping- a feature created especially for this region.
Linen Obsession’s Flagship store features the most comprehensive range of white, cream and silver high-quality sheets in the region, but the entire brand and product portfolio is available for purchase online, or in store via two full length digital shopping terminals. The Abu Dhabi flagship store will open in Reem Island in early October, again integrated with ecommerce and WhatsApp shopping within the city.
The idea of creating a “destination” physical store is to provide customers with a unique in-person experience where they can not only see, but also touch, feel, and compare the quality of bedding products. An initial visit to the flagship store is crucial for people looking to solve specific sleep issues, like temperature control, allergies or the right neck support for them. The store assistants are highly knowledgeable in every aspect of the product range, including the rich history behind the brands. From unravelling the mysteries of thread counts to creating a tailor-made bedroom, the Linen Obsession physical store aims to indulge customers in the tactile delight of its products, whilst personally sharing technical product information. Once customers have made their initial choice, next time they can easily order online or through WhatsApp for more convenient home delivery. There’s no requirement to keep returning to the physical store—unless, of course, they wish to relive the VIP shopping experience.
Linen Obsession’s strategy is to set itself apart as the linen and bedding specialists. This approach is a key factor in their success even in the B2B market. They provide retail linen solutions for the retail home furnishings and department store industry. Furniture or multi-department stores come to Linen Obsession when they need to improve or maximize the sales of their bedding department.
As the product category experts, Linen Obsession has the capability to supply its B2B business partners with multiple brands across numerous bed and bath categories. Utilizing their “always learning” model, the company provides its own trained staff for B2B store locations, where they can sell knowledgably to customers and gather valuable customer feedback. This invaluable input helps the company to tailor the product range to meet customer preferences in each location, ultimately maximizing sales and delivering exactly what customers desire, which creates greater customer loyalty to the retailer.
In many furniture stores, the significant sales opportunity in their bedding department often goes unnoticed by staff and management. Furniture store staff are often more focused on promoting sales of higher-value items like bedroom and dining sets, without realizing the potential sales value of linen. Frequently, they lack the knowledge to source the type of bedding that locals like to buy, or the buying expertise to determine the appropriate buying ratios. This is precisely where Linen Obsession adds value. Through partnerships with department and furniture stores, they can provide a range of excellent brands or comprehensive wholesale buying solutions specifically designed for the B2B partner’s customer demographic and ultimate bedding preferences.
This approach has played a significant role in Linen Obsession’s success, and the company is currently finalizing another partnership with a prominent chain of retail stores that operate in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Keeping it agile
The Phygital model is also successfully extended to the B2B business channel. Linen Obsession will provide complete ecommerce upload files and images, allowing retail partners to place all the bedding department online; as well as social media posting templates and lifestyle images.
In a market without standard bed sizes, buying linen is complicated enough! Linen Obsession’s wide size chart is invaluable as they stock UK, Gulf and USA sizes in best-selling ranges. All size options are available in all store locations, regardless of size, as well as for online and WhatsApp orders.
What sets the Gulf retail market apart is the focus on the overall customer experience and high service levels expected. Customers seek the in-store experience for its wide product range and immersive experience; whilst they seek online shopping for more convenience and competitive prices. This is exactly the combination that Linen Obsession’s Phygital concept aims to deliver.
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