HomeLane is backed by marquee investors like Sequoia, Accel and more and had been successfully operational in Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad so far. With their acquisition of home design marketplace startup Capricoast in November 2017, HomeLane decided to venture into the booming Delhi-NCR market. The company has just launched a experience centre in Gurgaon . In an exclusive conversation during launch Srikanth Iyer, CEO- Cofounder, HomeLane.com sheds light on the growth strategy of the brand.
How do you see home fashion industry has evolved in last couple of years?
Home as the industry has changed a lot in last couple of years especially when millennial started buying furniture. Interior design is becoming like a fashion business which is an extension of the personality. Likewise, interiors are exhibiting home fashion personality. Unlike to earlier times, now people are very conscious about the type of furniture because it speaks about their personality. Even longevity is no longer the criteria now, alike to fashion people want to change their furniture as per the ongoing trends and lifestyle. Due to much evolved consumer behavior Indian home market is opening for many international players and IKEA being the latest example. If we talk about consumption, affordable and fashionable furniture is in trend across the all categories of furniture.
Do you see similar trends in tier II and III markets as well?
Though, the small towns markets are also moving in the same direction. However, it will take another five to ten years of time to evolve alike to present tier 1/metro market. Small town market is equally aspirational. They are equally influenced by same urban millennial.
Why do you think that all major online furniture retailers are looking to grow offline by opening their experience centres. Even, Homelane has seven-eight experience centres. Do you think pure play online is the not right distribution strategy in furniture like high ticket category?
We are into customized furniture category so in that way we are very different from other leading players be it Pepperfry, Urban Ladder amongst others. Furniture is a very different category from fashion or CDIT which has really created a disruption in the online space. As far as customers are concerned when they are shelling out such huge amount they want experience. For example, the average ticket size of our customers is six and the half lakh, we don’t see people spending that much of money in the online space.
From the day one we believed that this is the business of omnichannel. Having the online is one part but you also need to have experience centre since people want to touch and feel of the product. However, we do generate many walk-in queries from the online space but actual business happen from the offline space only. We would continue to work on same business model in the future as well.
What are the plans to scale up the distribution for Homelane? Also, are you looking to work with Pepperfry, Urban Ladder as the part of strategy to scale up the distribution?
I am looking to have at least 25 experience centres in next two years majorly in top 10 cities. In fact, we would keen to have multiple experience centres in more mature markets like Delhi, Mumbai. As of now, we are looking to foray tier 2 markets. We are already working with these players for selected products. Our focus is to offer complete solutions. Our USP is customized fit outs in the categories such as kitchen, wardrobe, entertainment etc.
Are you also looking to any international brand to be part of your product portfolio?
Yes, we are speaking to many players. Since, anything is not close yet so I cannot mention any names. Our target audience is middle class and credible option in organize market. We would be keen to work with brands which are catered to masses as far as portfolio expansion is concerned.
If we talk about your expansion, how much investment you are looking to pump in?
We are looking to invest 9 to 10 cr over next six months that too just in Gurgaon. Primarily, this investment will be drive by franchise model.
According to you what are the major challenges as far as furniture retailing is concerned?
If you can trace back this market, furniture is always a very fragmented market. According to me, furniture market without fitouts is 15 billion dollar market in India. The share of unorganized share is 80 to 90%. There are two kinds of spends in this market including renovate and new homes. Completing with unorganized segment is one of the biggest challenges which are overcoming this by unique product models and consolidation.
Any comment on your revenue?
Without sharing revenue I can tell you that we are completing five homes a day. We are growing with healthy rate and aim to tap 10% of 1.6bn home interiors market in the region over the next 3 years.