Home Specialty Retailers Williams-Sonoma Inc Williams-Sonoma, Inc. – Business Description

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. – Business Description


Williams-Sonoma is a US-based multi-channel retailer of lifestyle products that focuses on home furnishing and accessories. The company offers home products ranging from culinary, serving equipment such as cookware, cookbooks, cutlery, informal dinnerware, glassware, table linens, specialty foods, cooking ingredients to home furnishings. Williams-Sonoma markets these products through retail stores, catalogs and through the Internet.

Williams-Sonoma procures its merchandise from foreign and domestic manufacturers and importers. The company purchases its products from foreign manufactures located in about 43 countries, located primarily in Asia and Europe. The company operates through two segments: retail and direct-to-customer (DTC).
The retail segment has five merchandising concepts (Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, West Elm, sand Williams-Sonoma Home). As of January 2008, the company operated 600 retail stores in 44 US states, Washington DC and Canada.This includes 256 Williams-Sonoma, 198 Pottery Barn, 94 Pottery Barn Kids, 27 West Elm, nine Williams-Sonoma Home and 16 outlet stores. The outlet stores carry merchandise from all concepts except PBteen.

The DTC segment comprises the catalog and online operations of Williams Sonoma.This segment sells similar products as sold in the company’s retail stores through direct mail catalogs and online web portals. This segment also sells products which are not available at the company’s stores. The company’s six merchandising concepts, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, PBteen, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma Home offer their products through the DTC channel.

Williams-Sonoma is the company’s flagship brand. The retail outlets of this brand focus on kitchen-related cookware and other products. These stores average 6,000 square-feet in size and offer cooking tool and appliance including pots, pans, cookware, knives, storage containers and small electrical appliances.Williams-Sonoma stores also carry an assortment of table linens, flatware and glassware. These stores also offer private label products including various ingredients like oils and sauces.

These stores also feature concepts ‘eat-in kitchen’ or ‘wet bar’. Williams-Sonoma also operates through direct channels such as catalogs and through the online web portal ‘Williams-Sonoma.com’.The company distributes about 50 million Williams-Sonoma catalogs annually throughout the US. These catalogs are augmented with Williams-Sonoma-branded cookbooks. Williams-Sonoma also hosts bookings and guest-appearances of local and nationally recognized cooks and chefs to add on to customer appeal and traffic. The online website of Williams-Sonoma offers unique features such as real-time inventory status, online bridal registry, and over 1500 recipes and tips.

Pottery Barn is a retailer and DTC merchandiser in the casual home furnishings and table accessories markets. The company operates over 190 Pottery Barn stores and distributes over 150 million catalogs annually.These stores average 12,000 square-feet in size. Pottery Barn stores sell oversized, stuffed chairs, candles, mirrors, frames, pillows, blankets, rugs and window treatments. Large stores also recreate different rooms within the house such as family room, living room or bedroom demonstrating how its products mesh with one another. In addition, Pottery Barn operates online through the web portal potterybarn.com. This website gives customers the flexibility to shop by different product categories or by room. Customers can also avail design tips and ideas online. Pottery Barn Kids is an extension of the Pottery Barn concept.
Pottery Barn Kids is a retailer of children’s furnishing and accessories. Pottery Barn Kids operates over 90 retail stores in the US and Canada and distributes over 75 million catalogs annually. These stores occupy approximately 8,000 square-feet of floor space. These stores include play sets, such as tiki bar with a table in the shape of a surfboard, to engage kids while parents shop. Pottery Barn Kids also offer the option of product customization. Customers can also shop products of this brand through the online website potterybarnkids.com. This website provides the flexibility of shopping by age, gender or room. In addition, customers can also track orders, browse for gift ideas and create and manage a gift registry online.
PBteen is an extension of the Pottery Barn and the teen version of Pottery Barn Kids. Williams-Sonoma markets the products of this brand through direct to customer channels only including catalogs and online website. PBteen offers furniture, rugs, lighting, bedding and accessories designed to furnish bedrooms, lounge and study spaces for teens. The furniture ranges from basic designs to youth-oriented themes such as surfboard-shaped tables and bookshelves. PBteen’s web portal ‘pbteen.com’ allow customers to shop by product category, room type, price, gender and occasion. This site also showcases a special section named ‘Style House’. This section gives demonstration on products, free downloads and decorating tips.
The brand ‘West Elm’ offers simple and modern merchandise at affordable prices.West Elm operates over 20 retail outlets. These stores average 16,000 square-feet in size. West Elm offers furniture such as tables, chairs, couches and bookshelves, as well as home furnishing accessories such as pillows, vases, bowls, blankets, candles and rugs.
Williams-Sonoma Home focuses on formal furniture and home decor products. Williams-Sonoma Home is the high end brand of the company that caters to middle and upper income consumers. The company has furniture available for custom ordering that can be delivered within 45 days. Williams-Sonoma Home’s product offering includes custom upholstered sofas, chairs, and tables, along with linens for bed and bath. Williams-Sonoma Home stores also offer certain retail only products across all categories, in addition to merchandise offered in catalogs. Retail only products include 100 upholstery fabrics for 30 furniture styles.
The segment also sells products through its seven direct-mail catalogs (Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Bed and Bath, PBteen, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma Home) and six e-commerce websites (williams-sonoma.com, potterybarn.com, potterybarnkids.com, pbteen.com, westelm.com and wshome.com).