MBH Architects names new principals
Alameda, Calif. — MBH Architects has appointed Klas Eklof and Oliver Mellows as principals for the 170-person firm.
Eklof and Mellows, each both employees of MBH for more than a decade, are looking forward to expanding their leadership roles during a time of exciting growth with increasing portfolios and branded projects, expanding opportunities for the firm.
MBH specializes in retail, residential, hospitality, mixed-use, workspace, and healthcare architecture and design. Their portfolio includes many well-known global clients and projects.
CashStar Retailer Roundtable puts m-commerce and digital gift cards in spotlight
While the mobile phone serves as a lens to a personalized store experience, moving forward, wearable technologies like Google Glass will take in-store personalization to the next level, Steve Arthur, head of retail industry for Google, told attendees at the Retailer Roundtable event, sponsored by digital gifting platform provider CashStar. Arthur cautioned that retailers must realize they must deliver consumers the experience they need, rather than what they want, and be prepared for a post-PC world.
“Associates leave more technology in their locker than they bring on the store floor with them every day,” said Arthur. “The install base of mobile and tablet devices is now greater than that of desktops and laptops. The PC era is over. The mobile phone is an intrinsic part of us. If we’re awake, we’re online. Especially if we’re under 30.”
According to Arthur, customers want a mobile-enabled experience that is fast, simple, tailored and engaging. He gave the example of a mobile app from the Midwestern mass merchandise chain Meijer that rearranges a customer’s shopping list based on their location in the store and gives them one space to store and manage all retail and manufacturer coupons.
However, repeating a famous quote from Henry Ford that “If I had asked people what they had wanted, they would have said faster horses,” Arthur urged retailers to look beyond customer wants and serve their underlying needs. This includes curation of online and mobile product assortments, as although customers always say they want more products to choose from, nobody has time to sort through thousands of online options.
“What a customer really wants is for the retailer to surface the one right item when they walk in the store, before they ask,” said Arthur.
Another speaker at the event, Mark Bonchek, founder of digital strategy firm Orbit, discussed what he sees as the gradual and inevitable evolution of e-gift cards and mobile wallets into a broader, intelligence-enable concept of “branded currency.” Under this model, retailers will essentially act as bankers of branded currency that gives consumers maximum control of their purchasing power, aided with artificial intelligence.
“You can influence purchase decisions by giving increased spending power over products and brands,” said Bonchek.
According to Bonchek, by giving consumers access to digital gift cards, points and coupons in one place, retailers increase convenience and convertibility of these forms of electronic payment. Retailers can further build on the power of what he said is currently known as a “mobile wallet” but will evolve into something greater by building in intelligence that will let consumers pull in personalized offers, rather than simply have personalized offers pushed to them.
“This type of targeting requires ‘Little Data,’” said Bonchek. “For example, there are mobile apps that let consumers track their health and fitness data which is highly personal. It lets them use what they know about themselves more efficiently."
Bonchek said retailers should also provide consumers with branded “social currency,” which he likened to a virtual version of the pizza and beer you give to friends who help you with a task like moving.
“It builds a relationship,” he said. “For example, Walgreens Balance lets you convert social currency to financial currency by offering rewards like 20 points per mile you walk a day and 20 points for a daily weigh-in. You create useful services with intrinsic value that build trust and help consumers develop favorite brands.”
Art Van Furniture converting 31 Mattress World stores to Art Van PureSleep brand
Warren, Mich. — Art Van Furniture plans to convert 31 Mattress World locations in Michigan and Indianapolis to its signature Art Van PureSleep brand, which is known for its diagnostic system that determines the exact mattress and pillow best suited for each individual’s comfort.
The conversion, which will begin August 1st, will be completed by the end of 2013, and will result in a total of 76 Art Van PureSleep stores.
"It makes sense to put all of our efforts into further enhancing and growing Art Van PureSleep, which has become one of the most sought-after sleep science systems in the entire furniture industry." said Art Van Elslander, founder and chairman of Art Van Furniture
Specialty sleep stores are one of the fastest growing retail categories. Art Van Furniture originally acquired the Howell, Michigan-based Mattress World chain in May 2011.
Art Van Furniture is Michigan’s number one mattress retailer. The company carries all major mattress and bedding brands including Kluft, Sealy, Beautyrest, Sleep to Live, Stearns & Foster, Tempur-Pedic, King Koil, ComforPedic, and more. The PureSleep System fits guests to the right mattress, pillow and protector to deliver their best sleep ever – the deep restorative sleep that provides better energy, fewer body aches and pains and improved concentration. There are currently Art Van PureSleep departments inside all 35 Art Van Furniture stores and 10 free standing stores in Michigan and Ohio, with four more scheduled to open in Michigan in 2013. For more information, go to artvanpuresleep.com.