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Why Data Is the Future of Multi-Line Showrooms

Why Data Is the Future of Multi-Line Showrooms


At its January launch, Somerselle’s partner roster will include 14 textile lines. Once open, the showroom will be the first Black-owned, multi-line showroom in the Tristate area, and the second in the country.

Photo: Reid Stewart

There are a few specific phone calls every showroom manager fears. Imagine it: A designer has planned a scheme and color story around one particular fabric, and the client presentation is a success. The designer calls to check in, and gets told that the SKU has been discontinued. “I have been a therapist to many designers who say, ‘No, no, no. What do you mean it’s discontinued? Can they still make it?’” Anderson Somerselle says to AD PRO. “Oftentimes, the designer has to start from scratch.”

Having spent the past decade working in design management roles, most recently as the purchasing coordinator at Holland & Sherry and textile manager at John Rosselli & Associates, Somerselle has more than once considered adding “impromptu therapist” to his CV’s skills section. The described scenario, as with most root causes of those dreaded calls, has a simple fix that the design pro believes he can solve with his new business. Come January, he is launching Somerselle, an online showroom representing 14 textile lines with a strategy rooted in data sharing and customer service. Plans are in place to open a physical space in New York with additional category partners (think lighting, rugs, and art) next fall.

Anxiety-inducing phone calls of another sort—those of design partners in the throes of developing a new collection—inspired Somerselle further. “They’d ask, ‘What color [of fabric] do you think I should produce?’” He recalls. Without having SKU-specific data, Somerselle says, he wasn’t able to decipher top-selling colors or patterns. Generating a response often meant flipping through the nearest magazine to spot color trends. “I’d even ask my team to inform me of all media requests because from that, I could gauge an idea. It was ridiculous to me that we didn’t have that information at our fingertips.”

Now, he will. Somerselle’s digital portal will track every data point down to the individual SKU. (“Our tech team was like, ‘What do you mean by everything needs to be tracked?” he says.) From the digital portal, designers will be able to see stock, get pricing, request samples, and place reserves and orders. And by inventorying memo samples, the showroom will be able to track requested samples, as well as whether they translate to a sale. 

Fabric sampling is a costly effort, especially for small makers like those in Somerselle’s portfolio, but as the industry saying goes: If you aren’t sampling it, you aren’t selling it. With the data collection, Somerselle will be able to request oft-ignored sample returns by sending return labels and updates on discontinued fabrics to encourage designer library refreshes—a point that thrilled prospective partners.

Works from Tafui, a studio founded by the Jamaican artist and designer of the same name, will be among Somerselle’s represented lines.

Photo: Courtesy of Somerselle, LLC

To make shopping the showroom even simpler, the company is working with its textile partners to implement a standard purchasing minimum. All orders made through Somerselle can also be tracked within the showroom’s designer portal, versus having to track individual orders via the respective brand partner. When an order is delivered, the showroom’s account managers (a title specifically chosen over ‘salesperson’) are encouraged to confirm the arrival and, more importantly, the accuracy of workroom deliveries to avoid disasters like a sofa arriving in the wrong COM (cue angry phone call). “With this technology we have, it isn’t about aggressively making suggestions to our clients. It’s about building a community,” says Somerselle. “My whole ethos is how do we make the designers’ jobs easier?”

Somerselle predicts that data transparency with vendors and quality customer service will be the biggest drivers in the future of the multi-line showroom. “I started to hear rumblings of the multi-line showroom dying, and being a younger person in the industry, I got concerned because I thought, ‘Am I investing my time in something that’s failing?’” he admits. “I decided, no. There is value here, but we need to hone in on what is the value and that’s convenience and service.” And now that all the technology is in place, Somerselle would be delighted to take your call.

Pillows by Filling Spaces, another one of Somerselle’s represented textile brands. Additional represented brands will include ABA Interiors, Ann McGuire Studio, Atelier RSH, Ash Block Printing, Caroline Cecil Textiles, Greige Textiles, IFI Fabrics, Jenny San Martin Design, KK Harris, Maresca Textiles, Malabar, Scot Meacham Wood Home, Tafui, and Zoe Glencross. 

Photo: Courtesy of Somerselle, LLC



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