"Chances of not meeting consumer expectations is the biggest challenge of e-commerce"
Online furnishing and home decor industry has seen dynamic changes over the years. From industry magnate like Kishore Biyani buying out Fab Furnish in an all-cash deal while companies like Furlenco, Rentomojo and GrabOnRent taking a slice of the emerging trend of "sharing economy."
Home design and decor has also gained immense popularity as not only the rich but also the millennials and middle-incomed working professionals now have access to high-quality furnishing and decor items and are ready to spend on these items.
Entrepreneur India spoke to Alok Duggal, Founder & COO, Homestudio.com, to understand the future of the e-furnishing space and where he sees his company in this domain.
"This domain has not evolved along with the changed needs of the Indian consumer"
"Today Indian consumers are much aware and are exposed to the global trends and have new expectations as per our research seeking modern and different solutions that match their lifestyle. The ease of selecting the international product with warranty along with hassle free maintenance is what gave birth to Homestudio," he said.
Alok's career took him to multiple cities. The challenge of getting furniture while changing houses always made him think why someone is not providing a one stop solution for affordable branded furniture. The company sees India as a nascent market in this category. Despite an external veneer of some old and new players in the category, it still operates as an unorganised sector, he adds.
Homestudio.com is an omni-channel startup offering global home solutions in the furniture category that are aligned to the new Indian urban lifestyle. The company secured its first round of funding from Bren Corporation in December 2015 and complete 500+ installations and average ticket size is more than INR 80,000 per product.
How big is the online furnishing business in India? Where do you stand in the market?
Chances of not meeting consumer expectations are the biggest challenge of e-commerce. One needs to understand that most of the times e-commerce works with the predictable and tried & tested products/brands. But for new categories and products which the consumers have not had a before- hand experience, especially furniture; the bridge between imagination and reality can be vast.
Thus, small furniture are easy to sell but not the large ones. This is where we come in creating a repeat buying trend and its working for more than 60% of our customers. They are buying wardrobes / beds and room solutions online. Consumer expectations and product reality must be in sync.
"We are bringing a unique concept to the market. We all understand it is a huge market on paper. But we are creating a complete new subcategory in this space without any parallels in the market. For the first 12-18 months we are not going to measure our performance just on a financial metric. There are millions of existing consumers ready for replacement of their current products and thousands of new apartments that are coming up every day. Our primary target at this stage is number of households which will experience our solutions, whether it is a single unit or the complete home solutions."
Alok did not comment on becoming an acquisition target nor gave the company any sort of valuation for its business.
Homestudio would be taking the concept of omni channel to 5-6 locations in 2017. It will not only be online, but the company will set up experience zones and service centres in those cities so wherein they can provide an end to end solution to its customers just like the way they are doing it in Bangalore . Secondly in 2017, the company is planning to introduce more products with latest style and trends to live up with the Indian demand.