Online furniture store Urban Ladder recently announced plans of opening offline stores and also listing on e-commerce portals. Commenting on this, Sanjay Gupta, CMO, Urban Ladder, said, “We feel after four years of being in the market, there is a fair bit of brand recognition of Urban Ladder. We are confident of the brand right now and therefore, we are going to distribute it across various platforms such as a Flipkart or an Amazon.”
As per reports, Urban Ladder currently offers 400 of its products on Amazon and Flipkart and plans to offer its entire range on the ecommerce marketplaces in the coming 3-6 months.
The company plans to open its first physical store in Bengaluru by the end of March or early April next year which they intend to first run for three months. These stores will be more like experience centres, than mere physical stores. Gupta added, “Post this, we will take a call in terms of what is happening and then decide on the future number of stores. In about three years, we feel that, 40 per cent of our business will come from these stores and it will become a significant part of our existence. It is not like we are shifting completely offline, but will be present across both online and offline platforms.”
One of the major players in the online furniture market, Pepperfry already has eight physical stores across five locations currently and has plans of doubling it to 16 by the end of this year.
Unlike other player in this category, Urban Ladder is not using TV as a promotional medium. The brand believes that a lot of the marketing can be done online when people are looking to move or purchase something new. In terms of brand building, they are looking at these offline stores, where people can walk in and have a full experience of the brand.
Talking about the future marketing plans, Gupta said, “We want to create an interface, where we are able to build a brand platform rather than an e-commerce platform. We also plan to create full home solutions rather than product solutions. We are not happy selling you only a coffee table, we want to do up your whole house. So our ability to configure some of the solution is where we are going to spend, not the general e-commerce way.”
Pepperfry on the other hand, through its television advertisements, has managed to create a strong brand recall in the last few years. In fact, since last year, before the onset of the festive season, the brand usually starts with their advertising campaign, ‘Don’t wait till Diwali, buy furniture anytime on Pepperfry’, which speaks about the great value proposition available on the site and that customers need not postpone their big ticket purchases to festivals like Diwali. This year, in August, the brand allocated had around Rs 10 crore for a month long campaign.
Competition from IKEA:
IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant, is all set to open its first store in India mid-next year in Hyderabad.
Commenting on if they see the entry of the huge international brand as a threat, Gupta said, “I feel that one of the good things that IKEA will definitely do is that they will brand the whole unbranded category. Like when Zara came, every woman said, I will have to dress up in Zara clothes because it is in fashion. So IKEA will surely make the category very aspirational. So instead of going to the carpenter, they are likely to go and check out things at the IKEA store. It will be good for the category, whether it will be good for us, we don’t know!”
Current challenges in the online furniture market:
According to Gupta, the big challenge in this industry is that it is very large, a 20 billion dollar industry, but with no brand greater than Rs 200 crore. So, the category is ripe for someone to become the largest brand but the challenge which online furniture players face is that for years Indians have bought furniture only after seeing it or going to a carpenter whom they can hold accountable for their end-product. “This is the barrier, which we want to break in the next five years. We feel that if in the next 3-5 years we make people experience Urban Ladder through our physical stores, then may be in the next 7 to 10 years, people won’t have the need to see these stores (in the first place), because by then, they would have already trusted the brand,” added Gupta.