Episode 66 – E-Design and Visibility

Episode 66 – E-Design and Visibility


Welcome to another episode of the Design+Style podcast. We are a podcast for designers, by designers. I am one of your
co-hosts Dixie, with Dixie Willard Design and with me as always is the beautiful, effervescent Rachel with Rachel Moriarty Interiors! And we wanted to say that the Design+Style podcast is brought to you by the Visibility Lab. The Visability Lab is the
only membership group that focuses on the latest strategies and tools to help
you get more visible while showcasing your specific brilliance. We’ve got
weekly online office hours with both of us, monthly topics, in depth worksheets,
and exclusive monthly trainings. I’m so excited! SQUEE! I don’t wanna–I wish my voice wasn’t so hoarse from the Design Bloggers Conference. I know! I want to squee so bad. Maybe it’s better for the listeners that I don’t. SQUEE! Kinda soft, hopefully. Hopefully I didn’t just pierce your ears. Oh my gosh, okay, so you guys, you guys–You’re like finally! Finally! Dixie and I have been–so Dixie and I are really, really bad at keeping secrets.
Horrible. We’d love to when something happens we love to hop on live and share it. Something exciting in our lives, we love to share it. We learn
something, we share it. I mean, that’s just how we are. That’s just–how we’re exactly
the same and we have had this little collaboration happening behind the
scenes and it has been top secret, under wraps and Dixie and I just don’t–we just
don’t do well like that, you know? But obviously we can keep secrets. When we have to, we can, yes. Big, big secrets, right? So, today we are making a big announcement. We made the
announcement on Facebook live today about our collaboration with The Design
Network and we are going to record with Jason. He’s going to share with you
everything that this new–well it’s e- design I’ll just say it cause we’re getting ready to–it’s already out! It’s already out, we already talked about it. I know I’ve like trained myself now to hold back. Right? It’s really a win-win-win-win-win, right? It’s a win for them, they’re a big,
large–the largest furniture company in the world. They have this ecommerce site
that they built. It’s a win for us designers because we can set our own
pricing, we can make money, we can earn proper commission through them–Yes. And it’s a win for the consumer because of their, you know, delivery systems and back-end
and all of their service, you know, everything. So, we’re excited to hop in we
will talk to you on the other side of the podcast. Jason Harris is the founder of The Design Network (TDN), a digital platform that combines a vibrant community of
independent interior designers and a best-in-class home furnishings e-commerce shop along with inspirational and informative video content all about home
design. The content, commerce and expert design community combine to create an
easier way for consumers to design and furnish their homes where they can get
inspired, connect with a designer to plan their space and then seamlessly
purchase the best brand name furnishings at the lowest prices. Launching soon is TDN eDesign, the world’s first 360 degree eDesign platform where the entire
experience from planning through delivery is managed and handled all in
one platform. TDN is powered by the largest furniture
emporium in the world, Furniture Land South, located in High Point, North
Carolina which is owned by Jason and his brother Jeff Harris. A graduate of UNC
Chapel Hill, Harris lectures to professional groups and college students
across the country on business development, entrepreneurship and
technology application. Jason and his wife Jenny have five kids ages 7 to 19;
and he enjoys family time as well as golf, running and traveling. Let’s talk about e-design on TDN well thank you guys so much for having me I’m excited
to be on your podcast for the second time yeah we got a lot to talk about
right oh my gosh we are so we’ve been waiting for this day for forever because
Dixie and I are not gonna keeping secrets so I’m the worst I’m the worst
you know I’m excited because we’re sort of officially announcing today really
through your podcasts that we are launching a really amazing new feature
on the design Network called edesign and i think we’ve taken a
really unique approach to e design and i think it’s it sort of ties together
everything that we’ve been building over the last several years and it really
sort of formalizes this you know tagline that we have that’s an easier way to
design your home we’re really going to be the world’s first comprehensive
platform it’s a 360 degree II design platform where consumers can come to the
platform get inspired connect with an interiors honor and shop and purchase
the products all the way through delivery so it’s planning all the way
through delivery and and so we’ve taken our time with sort of getting to this
point where we can kind of tie all these things together it’s been quite a
journey and we really want to make sure that we put the interior design
community at the core of this thing and and and so I’ve worked with you guys you
too along with some some others in designing a design because um it’s gotta
it’s got to be a good solution for your business and so there’s a lot of
flexibility that’s built into this designers can design their own
experience their own packages their own pricing on the platform and we’ve
developed we’re developing haven’t completed it yet but some amazing
collaboration tools just to make it an easy seamless process I mean you already
know how much we love it but I know in planning for it all of our followers
know what a tdn fan we already were we still get comments we are you know we do
visibility stories with our community members and they still talk about how
the experience of getting on your platform has changed and sharing that
out and social media has kind of made them feel a little bit like legit you
know so we’d love that you’ve added this other layer where they can actually get
on if for anybody’s listening hasn’t finished up your profile this is the
time to get on and mill that thing out because it’s going to be all about what
your profile looks like he’s gonna be
providing the leads to these projects and you’re gonna be able to do mood
boards and communication and it’s gonna be gonna be amazing
the whole process right amazing well with your help obviously we have I think
we’ve really sort of charted out the the roadmap that you that sort of happens
when someone’s designing a space are collaborating to design of space and so
there’s a lot of tools that you need to be able to effectively do that so you
know we have built these tools or integrated third-party tools into the
platform so that it’s just a simple process and it makes sense for everybody
of course you know if you’re a designer on tdn you don’t have to be an e
designer that’s an option for when you own board into the platform you can if
you just want exposure to clients that are searching in their area for
designers you can you can just select that an option but if you want to be an
e designer you know you just you’ll click that option and go through and
actually set up your own your own packages your own pricing as as a model
there and what style so we the first step is that you know we the consumer
can come on and take a style quiz and then we’re gonna serve up designers that
we feel like actually sort of are proficient we’re experienced because
they’ve told us they are in and those those different styles and so they
select a package and we’re and we’re off to the races we gather lots of
information on the platform from that from the consumer and really with your
advice we’ve got a really a pretty good system I think for getting the
information the room measurements pictures of the room at the right kind
of angles and all of that information is sort of ingested and easily uploaded
right to our system and it’s it’s all there it’s all accessible in at anytime
we’ve got an awesome mood board creator now we have all the products sort of you
know integrated into the platform so it’s easy to select and manipulate and
work with the products and we also have the 3d Room planner so it’s it’s all
sort of integrated into showing Williams pink colors are there
the mood boards the product lists it’s all sort of comprehensive and we thought
about the revision process we’ve we’ve sort of baked it all the way out and so
now not only does the designer receive the the design fees they also earn
commission like 8% we’ve really bumped this number up to for them to earn
commission on the sale of the product so there’s a real opportunity business
opportunity for designers as they take advantage of the fee that we charge and
we tdn takes a percentage of that fee you know to run the platform and develop
the software and do the support but the designer makes the lion’s share of that
revenue coming in from from the e design and they also set their own pricing so
you know we’re gonna have sort of some you know constraints there or stad lines
generally we can’t it can’t get too low but and you know there’s there’s tons of
cool features that we’ve built into this and super excited about it so one of the
questions that we’ve heard recently is people are starting to be a little bit
concerned about some of the boilerplate language and some of the platforms that
are out there that says that the platform can use the images because part
of having a TDM profile you can upload professional photos you can upload
videos that you’ve done and some of the contracts out terms of service out there
fact most of them because it’s boilerplate language say that the
platform gets to use the images can you clarify for everybody what TD ins policy
is on that right yeah I mean it’s it’s pretty standard language in terms of sub
licensing or licensing the use of your imaging of your images your media as you
upload that onto the platform and so ours is really pretty simple we we just
we’re we have the right and the light the license to use those images within
the context of our platform it’s not that we can go out and sell all those
images or or use them in another way outside of tdn but it’s within the tdn
services and the t being in owns platforms that were able to license
those those images that’s pretty simple and clear and the other part of that is
we only have the license as long as you have the images on our platform images
or videos on our platform as soon as you remove those there we no longer have
that license are not able to use those in the context of our platform so pretty
simple stuff well in really the basic language is there because you can’t have
it you can’t show other people the images on the platform unless you have
permission exactly you have to share them so that’s that’s the reasoning
behind that for anybody who doesn’t yes doesn’t know that so we are so excited
to share we have somebody in our group that does an amazing 3d uses your 3d
rendering software in such an amazing way and we’re gonna be sharing with our
community how she does that so we’re super excited to show that because I
don’t know we see questions all the time asking designers asking about this 3d
software and it can be very pricey to purchase it right so that is great to
get on there and use it for it for that as well um what was I gonna say I was
just gonna say that it’s I’d love how robust I mean you went through you know
between packaging your own pricing the stylus move Bart’s products 3d room
planner sherwin-williams pain I mean it’s just it’s so robust and one of the
things when we did our profile challenge that a lot of people were asking about
was this commission part first you know versus affiliate sales right you know
what I mean and so this bit this is so so much bigger than what we were talking
about before so that’s what is so exciting for me because this has been
something that that we have been getting questions on sure and I think the we’re
hoping that a big part of the reason this will be successful is because we’re
merchants first we’re we’re a 50 year old retail furniture business my brother
not own furniture Leon south and that’s really the company that powers
all of this furniture blandness you know the world’s largest furniture store
it’s the biggest fire store in the world and the furniture capital of the world
we have cultivated relationships with with you know consumers and vendors for
over 50 50 years now I’d be 50 years next year so we have a we have a great
business we do nationwide logistics we have an amazing distribution center we
sell you know 170 million dollars worth of furniture a year and there’s it’s
such a nuanced business and so that’s really kind of what what fuels this
whole platform is just having the these products these vendor relationships at
the at the kind of mid to high end and all and all the experience we have with
the the logistics of the final delivery a lot and what we’re finding with every
single one of these II design platforms is there’s there it gets to a point
where there’s a complete disconnect as is it you know when you get down through
the design process and then we’re and then it’s time to purchase the products
it’s all affiliate stuff it’s out it’s completely out of control it just goes
to other places and we’re not saying with our II design like the consumer has
to buy every only products or platform designers can recommend other products
from other platforms we want to make it as easy as possible to leverage the
product awesome products that we have and by the way that is a huge project in
and of itself for us is to take all these tens of thousands of products and
variants and options and try to get that into the system we’re investing in huge
product information management software to better enable that we’re we’re
tasking our vendors with helping to supply this information there is no
standard in our industry for for all this the product data the product images
and we’re fortifying this this product information from our more vendors with
appropriate product copy a lot of the vendors aren’t set up to write the kind
of copy we actually asked one of our vendors to provide copy for us and they
said yeah we have a copy machine he’s there’s a little bit sometimes
disconnect and these vendors of it it’s a very entrepreneurial business or small
vendors there’s big big vendors there’s vendors that are very technologically
oriented there’s big vendors that aren’t very technologically advanced but we’re
we’re doing our best to onboard this data to index this information to to
connect in with the vendors in terms of you know real-time stock availability
and you know legitimate delivery times and all the information we’re also
fortifying this data with the appropriate copy where we need to and
also videos we’re doing product videos things like that that we’re adding to to
help consumers and designers really understand more about these amazing
products yeah I mean you know we we represent about a thousand different
brands we and we don’t just add brands to add brands we we only add brands that
our merchandising team completely vets and there’s there’s a long line of
vendors that want to get into this system but you know we really take our
time to make sure that they meet the type of the criteria that we have for
for being a vendor partner of ours and that’s that’s a pretty strenuous process
and it’s not just when you’re in you’re in we we actually go yeah as we conduct
business with this vendor we provide quarterly vendor scorecards to them that
measures everything from returns to quality issues and service and all sorts
of things that really kinda keeps them on their toes and it keeps us on our
toes as well so it’s it’s a it’s the vendors that we are putting forth into
our e-commerce platform but it they’re all vendors that we have great
relationships with that we actually represent their products in our in our
massive store as well well you know I was just taking in what you said and you
have so many categories Jason this is the thing that’s so different about
yours is you don’t just have upholstery you
know or or something like that you really can pull a full project together
with everything I know I do mood boards for my blogs all the time
you know I just took a trip to Tulum and I found matching products – yeah
blend wood – you know the items I have that I saw in Tulum um so they I know
for a fact by going in and using you know your e-commerce platform that you
have the products that are there to provide a pretty comprehensive project
right we do um you know there’s a couple categories that we don’t get into but
from and we’re not as far as I want to be right now with with having all these
products online you know we we have just a small amount of products currently
online at the end of this year we hope to I mean have 50 times more than we
have right now we’re doing that the right way with through this this PIM
software but yeah I mean we can’t we we have all sorts of categories primarily
home furnishings you know accessories and rugs and
lighting Lighting’s come in the accessory category but yeah that’s
probably and we started at sort of middle quality and go to the super
high-end and yeah it’s pretty pretty much soup to nuts in terms of decorating
your home and I love like I think what people don’t understand Dixie and I got
to see your whole delivery your you know where you take care of product issues
for us where if we were just doing it on our own
once that’s delivered that’s somehow has to be you know is gonna somehow flow
through back to us you know so I just love the whole idea that we know that we
can give to give professional deliverables great brands great service
and then we have back and help us right well absolutely that’s that’s um
probably the biggest differentiator in our business is the logistics that we
have we have a massive distribution center that we develops probably doesn’t
even fit yeah we learned we learned the hard way
of you know how it needs to work you know and how you need to receive
products how you need to store products how you need to to pad wrap and inspect
those products before they get lit on the truck having the right type of
equipment the right type of drivers that are going into these client’s homes and
then having the right kind of processes and procedures when there’s a problem
there’s almost always a problem just know that this is a problem or a my dad
used to say you know the home furnishings industry is a problem
oriented industry and I’ve always use that ever since I heard and say it yeah
it’s not is there gonna be a problem it’s how can you resolve the problem and
how can you do it efficiently quickly and provide the best service and you
know so I think through this hyper flow system and having control over this
nationwide we’re able to our returns are less than 1% which is unheard of in our
industry you know we we that that last mile is where people really struggle in
our industry and that’s something that we’ve just put a stake in the ground
said that’s you know that’s the last time we touch our clients or our
designers we need to make sure that it’s that it’s the best and we want people to
have a great experience and enjoy their their purchases I mean home furnishings
this is a major investment for people you know and I mean you got your house
and this is probably like number two in terms of life Tom even more so than
maybe your cars in terms of you know the amount of money that you spend and so
it’s it’s a big investment for people and people want to enjoy it and have and
be proud of their environment and invite their friends over and entertain and
live comfortably and fashionably you know and so we’ve we’ve got the types of
of furnishings and brands that I’ve never seen better than what what’s
available right now and really this this whole network is about celebrating that
and exposing that and and trying to make it accessible to people I really believe
that that great design is a huge part of that and that’s
why we’ve designed we’ve created the whole design Network it really combines
content ecommerce and this community of independent areas honors leveraging the
amazing logistics and things we have it retail with our business but serving up
serving it up in a way where you can you can actually access this and make it
personalized and make it happen in your home the easiest possible way
and you know that we’re always all about visibility and that’s one of the things
I think I love everything about TDM because not only is it a functional
thing for designers you have the ability for them to upload videos and photos and
people consumers can find them they can do design consumers are finding them
instead of them having to put all of their resources into going going out and
doing the other they can pull it together in one consolidated space and
really make a huge difference and then use everything that they’ve done at tdn
and share that out it’s so you know that was sort of the Epiphany that I had when
I started this platform five years ago is like somehow um you know all the
things that ice that I’m exposed to every day with great design and great
products and awesome craftsmanship it’s not out there for the general public you
know I mean people don’t really have much of a window into this amazing world
of fashion when it comes to home furnishings and design and interiors we
there’s a there’s been a very important piece of the puzzle left out in my
opinion and that is that is the consumer you know it’s like we’re we do so much
talking amongst ourselves in this industry that a lot of times it doesn’t
leak out and we don’t present it in the best way for consumers to to understand
it or to place value in it and the design network is really the is our
solution to that because you know we started this sort of it’s content first
and producing you know great videos and there’s so many talented colorful people
in our industry designers that that have that are so experienced and they’re so
interesting you know and they have so much to talk about and there’s
it’s limitless that things we can talk about with when it comes to this dynamic
personal space of your home and so the the the design network really makes it
just more accessible to people we’re excited because that you know not only
are we doing a design and e-commerce and all that on the platform but we’re also
producing some really cool content we look at contents in three buckets
designers have the ability to upload their own video content on the platform
we’re also producing in a very premium way what we’re calling snackable content
which is really for just little tips and ideas that were pushing out on social
media and we have our third type of content and that is our highly produced
television entertainment type content similar to HGTV but much more design
focused and and so we’ve got a significant presence now on Apple TV and
in in on Roku we’re on YouTube as well our biggest audience is on roku but
people are able to access our video content on those platforms and it just
sort of inspires them and gives sort of helps us to brand the design network and
all the features that are there and it’s driving sort of people into that funnel
to say well not only am i getting inspired and see these wonderful
interiors and learn all these great tips from the pros but I’m also able to get
in this platform and make this happen for myself in my home it’ll value oh my
gosh I’m so excited I’m so excited I’m oh my gosh High Point is gonna be
amazing right this is where the big launch is we’re gonna start at fern
we’re doing a social media take over for you guys and you have a new gallery that yes you
know my brother is my brother and I own the design Network and furniture and
South together and you know my parents started furniture and South in the late
60s and as things they both passed away over the last few years my brother and I
have just a passion for our business and we’re going
as hard as we can go at sort of our own things but still sort of connected at
the hip and and so it’s exciting to see some of the things that my brother Jeff
is spearheading and doing you know and it’s we it’s we need each other doing
what we’re doing and so but he won that one of his big initiatives is launching
a whole new contract furniture division for furniture Leon South again
designers that are part of the design Network have exclusive you know
opportunities and benefits but we’re launching this market also in addition
to a design on TBN launching a brand new presentation of contract furnishings
it’s actually right outside of my office here in in our corporate building so
it’s sort of a destination it’s about 50,000 square feet of you know a
showroom that’s just brand new fresh all that you know we have new lines of
commercials and we’re sort of we’re doing this in the vein of this you know
if you guys have heard this I’m sure you have of Reza mercial we’re you know
we’re swear commercial furniture typically it’s got very hard lines and
you know we’re people locked companies are wanting to soften that up a little
bit with rugs accessories and soft seating in certain areas we have all the
brands and the the lines to sort of mix in with the the commercial furnishings
to make it you know awesome workspaces and the way that the gallery is laid out
I can’t wait for you guys to see it it’s laid out by sort of function or type of
business that you have and so you have a variety of different types of work
environments and workspaces that you can sort of get immersed in into that style
and it’s it’s really it’s really a cool presentation we’ve we’ve hired some
awesome people to come in that have tons of experience in the commercial industry
it’s a little bit new for us I know there’s lots of nuances but the reason
we’re doing it is we have so many clients that come here and they also are
professional business people they own their own businesses their own office
buildings since their sink they asked us you know hey
like we’re buying for our home but me I’ve got this you know this building
that I need to furnish to and so it’s sort of a natural extension of that but
and there’s also no good place to go and see the latest and greatest with
commercial where do you guys see it um so we’re excited about that it’s it’s
new I’m sure we’ll have some growing pains with it but we’re gonna launch
that at market around a special event here the Friday the 13th of market and I
hope it’s just for designers and trade to come to this sort of you know
unveiling but I’m excited to see you guys here for that too that’s what we’re
starting our social media takeover yes with flat Dixie I love the term Reza
Reza mercial by the way I’m going to yeah yeah so we’re excited we’re gonna
be announcing more and more we have things we’re still working on it you
know connected to this so we will be making announcements I think we’re going
to be moderating a panel while we’re there on one day so we’ll be putting all
of this out in detail once we get everything worked out but we are so
grateful Jason that we have this opportunity to do this with you well
we’re I’m equally as thrilled and even if we kind of trace this back to how our
relationship start it was because you know you design you join the design
network and I saw your awesome beautiful profile up there with some great
projects and so I went to your website Rachel and I saw what your what you were
doing with a design I was like that’s on our roadmap you know and so I just loved
your approach to it there and that’s kind of what got our whole dialogue
going we’ve come a long way since then but you know I wanted to tap into your
your experience your your knowledge of this and how it works and flows and I
think because of that we’ve we’ve designed a pretty special platform it is
something I think will continue to evolve and and part of this process is
going to be really getting your your Facebook group which I think you guys
have just one amazing group of people you know I love about you face what I
love about this design and style Facebook group is just how positive
everybody is there’s some other ones that are take a very negative approach
um you know that that I just don’t think it’s really good for for anybody and so
you know I love the positive approach and can’t do and the visibility aspects
of what you guys are doing that’s the kind of thing we want to associate with
there’s positive people they’d like to have a good time and do business I mean
this is life right so let’s not only do I see also has worked for a company right on their on their on staff as an e
designer as well so we both have even though we came at it again at different
ways as Dixie and I always do yeah that’s no surprise there that we both
have a wealth of experience you guys wire-framed it and we’re helping you
make the process you know make the process easy for the designers to you
yep at the end of day it’s it’s gonna
provide visibility and hopefully some awesome new business opportunities and
revenue streams you know so it’s gonna be fun to see kind of how it evolves and
takes off and so it just a super stoked and excited about it there’s a lot of
great yeah there’s just there’s so many little great features that are part of
this that I think you know you don’t really have to go off platform to go and
create the room plan were you know the the mood board and then get import that
and it’s all all that technology is sort of baked in right there and we’ve we’ve
really with your help thought about every step of the process
and so I’m excited I think people are gonna be surprised when they see how
robust it is when you say it’s three your design network is 360 it really is
its it’s not everything so we are so excited to go ahead to say we’ve got a
we’ve got a webinar that’s coming out next
but for recent sometime so we have a webinar that we’re doing
that involves the cheetah rim styler and how to not only create the room in the
room styler but how to incorporate the vision into a video that can then be
uploaded on the TV on site so we’re excited about that it’s you being so
easy for designers and we just love that well thank you I appreciate that I mean
I think the opportunity there here is the opportunity is just not only making
a z4 designer but also making it easy for consumers to collaborate with
designers and and that’s that’s the hard thing for people like they walk into
their home and they look at their space and their living room like I don’t like
this I want it to be I want it to look like you know this amazing magazine
cover that I look through my space does not look like that how can I make it
happen you know in that process from how do I make my space look look like a
magazine to make it look like a magazine is is really really hard for people
because people don’t do it I mean yeah and I’m a huge believer in the
professional interiors honor being a big part of that and we can make that
affordable we can make that efficient and then the other part of it is having
the right kind of products and into to make it happen we’ve got those that are
in our fingertips and so I think we’ve got we’ve got the right elements in play
and you know so with your help you know we can get there yep we’re doing it okay
that’s the perfect place to end it and everybody we will see everybody market
if not just follow us we’re gonna be having fun and we’re gonna have disco
with us of course I’m in I had to Joseph air this week I told you I told you it
was gonna be great you knew we were squeeing for a reason yeah it’s just
it’s just one of those things where it’s got so
in it of course there’s a lot in it for the consumer but there’s so much in it
for the designers all of the visibility they bring the clients to you so if
you’re just getting started it’s a maze if you’re not just getting
started and you’ve been a while yeah yeah it’s it’s just we still I still
meet designers that don’t know the process of a design and that’s why they
collaborated with us to get go through that process um you know you with your
well you know you’ve worked for williams-sonoma brands I’ve done a lot
of you know ton of he designs how I got my start in the design industry and so
between all of that we have really worked on processes we’ve worked really
tightly with their team and there’s just they’ve just been so open to our input
and I’m looking forward to it launching this beta a beta group and
start Dixie and I are gonna get in there and start trying to break things and you
know I’m good at bat so it’s something I like getting in and trying to break
stuff so awesome I just I know I know we just love Jason so we are so excited and
we hope you guys are too stay tuned there’s gonna be more and tons of
visibility in person and height weight also online via social media takeover so
stay tuned this morning this podcast is made possible in part
through the support of our preferred partners like the design Network the
design Network offers one of the most powerful to the trade ecommerce programs
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