The Container Store: Organizing for Growth

Big ideas for unlocking the power of employee engagement at NRF 2023

January 27, 2023

If you’ve ever walked into The Container Store, you’ve probably felt immediately at peace. Stepping into aisles full of neatly organized and aesthetically curated merchandise, everything seems tranquil and serene. 

But beyond the endless possibilities of decluttering, organizing, and finding unique products that you never knew existed (like that three-in-one avocado device?!) is an unforgettable team of smiling employees. The staff at TCS is known for being knowledgeable, always helping customers find the right products so they can feel empowered and in control of their lives.

As a leading retailer known for its unique products and in-store experiences, The Container Store is on an upward growth trajectory. Under the leadership of President & CEO, Satish Malhotra, the company has ambitious plans for expansion, including opening new locations, launching small format stores, offering in-home services, and creating custom spaces. 

In a recent NRF 2023 Big Ideas session, Malhotra shares how The Container Store empowers its frontline teams to achieve these big goals and drive the company’s continued success.

The Container Store doesn’t just offer unique products. They offer engaging, tactile, in-store experiences. While specialists on the frontlines create authentic experiences that make customers feel elevated, motivated, and organized, the brand is simultaneously innovating at the speed of light. In a world where retailers are faced with endless complexities, TCS is focused on reducing the noise and keeping store teams connected to their brand. Here’s how:

Engagement, Engagement, Engagement 

“Fundamentally, the most important thing for us at the Container Store is engagement, engagement, engagement,” says Malhotra. 

“The role of our specialists is to really engage with our customers, to understand what their projects are, and to provide them with solutions so that when they go home, they can actually realize their dream,” says Malhotra. “We pride ourselves on how our customers feel. We love that The Container Store is their happy place.”

In order to ensure specialists can make a real difference in the lives and homes of TCS customers, those specialists have to be empowered to be their best selves, too. “[Authenticity] is something that you can’t really manufacture or produce, so you need to bring out the best in everyone,” says Malhotra. That culture is the core of what makes The Container Store such a welcoming place for customers. 

What’s TCS’ secret to helping free up specialists to spend time with customers, while also keeping everyone engaged and connected? Effective communication.

Through regular communication, community-building activities, and feedback loops, employees are able to stay connected with one another, the brand, and, most importantly their ‘why.’ This helps to create a sense of shared purpose and community among employees, which in turn helps to create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for customers.

Connecting employees to each other

With Zipline, TCS associates are able to stay connected with team members within stores, and they’re able to connect with other stores. They can celebrate each other’s successes, share what they’ve created, or pass along best practices. 

One example of the camaraderie and competition: The Container Store ran a promotion where they gave away oversized totes… and the stores quickly turned it into a challenge, sharing photos between store teams about just what can fit in these (seriously oversized) totes. 

“It’s quite contagious, we have fun with this stuff,” said Malhotra. “It ends up being a two-way communication within the store networks that we have.”

How TCS stays organized

Working at TCS isn’t all fun and games, though. Sometimes promotions need to change, or products need to be recalled. With Zipline, stores and HQ operate in sync, ensuring changes are rolled out quickly and correctly. 

“People don’t realize how communication can actually enhance your productivity levels,” says Malhotra. “There’s a large amount of change coming about, and it’s important to make sure that everyone’s aligned on that message.” 

In Zipline, field teams receive communications in an orderly way. They have a single source of truth and know where to go for answers. As a result, when HQ says “jump,” field teams can respond with “how high?” and execute new initiatives efficiently and effectively. This streamlined communication and coordination leads to improved performance and therefore, customer satisfaction.

“All retailers essentially have the same challenges. You’re growing, you’re scaling, you’re moving fast, you want to make sure everyone’s aligned on the same page” says Malhotra. “By quickly utilizing Zipline as the way our stores communicate, it facilitates an effective way to get us back on track.”

Zipline + The Container Store = A true partnership

Malhotra feels like the Zipline team has become an extension of The Container Store’s Teams. “I would even go as far as saying, if you put the Zipline team with the Container Store folks in the room and you took away their credentials, you couldn’t tell who works for who.”

From implementation, to roll-out, to ongoing support, Zipline has partnered closely with TCS to ensure store teams are seeing success with the tool. 

“My store organization talks about Zipline all the time, and how it’s really changed the way that they’re able to engage with each other. It has had a demonstrative impact on the way we operate in 3 distinct ways: through productivity, knowledge, and connection… By eliminating and removing all the obstacles, we can truly engage with our customers.”

Want to learn more about how The Container Store empowers their frontline teams and drives growth? Tune into the NRF 2023 Big Ideas session where Satish Malhotra shares his insights and strategies.

In a tight retail economy, every second counts. Winning brands can quickly adjust to changing customer needs and turn on a dime. How quickly can you align your stores behind a last-minute promo change? Schedule some time to find out why 75 best-in-class brands just like The Container Store use Zipline to keep today on track! 

Recent Posts

Company News

How To Convince Your Boss to Send You to Summer Camp

Employee Engagement

How Culture Fuels O’Reilly Auto Parts

Company News

Zipline Achieves Record-Breaking Customer Satisfaction Scores in 2023 Survey

Industry Trends

The Best Presentation I Saw at NRF Had Me Cheering By Myself in a Room Full of Strangers

Employee Engagement

Everything You Need to Know about Learning Journeys

Industry Trends

New Tech I Saw at NRF That May Be a Waste of Money

Expert Interviews

NRF 2024 Day 3

Industry Trends

NRF 2024 Day 2

Retail Execution

NRF 2024 Day 1

Expert Interviews

Two Decades in Retail, and NRF Remained a Mystery. But Now, I’m Heading to the Conference.

Related News

See how Zipline helps keep today on track