A few years ago, the home decor store Urban Outfitters was in a precarious position: its customers were buying homes with more space than its staff had space for.
So the company built a massive warehouse, which it christened “the American Home.”
The warehouse’s ceiling is made of reclaimed wood, the furniture is made in the United States, and it’s stocked with furniture that is both American and affordable.
But that warehouse has since been raided, and its employees are being fired.
“We’re seeing a huge amount of turnover in the warehouse, and the staff turnover is also a huge concern,” says CEO Rob Miller.
Miller says he’s trying to figure out what he can do to make his warehouse more sustainable.
“What we’re seeing is we have to be a little bit more aggressive in the way we are sourcing and how we’re sourcing our materials,” he says.
And that means investing in a bigger warehouse.
“If we don’t have a facility, we’re not going to have a warehouse,” he said.
Miller thinks that’s where the company can make the most of its existing warehouses, and build out a bigger, more efficient facility.
“In the end, I think the only way to keep our warehouse viable is to make it sustainable,” he told Business Insider.
The company’s biggest challenge now is how to make the warehouses more affordable.
“You need to have access to a workforce and you need to be able to afford to buy those materials,” says Miller.
“There’s not a lot of people who can afford to work in the retail industry right now.”
For Miller, that means finding ways to make that affordable.
In January, Urban Outfits added an online ordering option for the American home, which means that shoppers can order a home and then have it shipped to their home.
Miller said the new ordering system is “an incredibly simple thing that we can implement quickly and easily.”
It’s not just about shipping furniture.
“It’s also about finding ways that we’re using these materials in the product to be less expensive,” he adds.
“And that’s what the shipping cost is.”
The company also added an option for home furniture that comes in boxes and boxes of furniture, as well as items like kitchen cabinets and wall clocks.
And while the shipping costs are low, the warehouse still has to have storage space for all of its items, and Miller says the warehouse has to keep a certain number of those items in stock.
“The warehouse’s the most expensive part of our operation, and so that’s our challenge,” he explained.
“I think that the warehouse is the only part of the operation that we need to keep in stock and that’s something that we have a lot to look at.”