The online home furnishing segment has grown rapidly over the years and is expected to gain more prominence in the coming years. In a candid conversation with Retailer Media, Anuj Srivastava, CEO, Livspace, shares his views about the home furnishing indus
The online home furnishing segment has grown rapidly over the years and is expected to gain more prominence in the coming years. In a candid conversation with Retailer Media, Anuj Srivastava, CEO, Livspace, shares his views about the home furnishing industry…
Tell us about the inception of your brand?
The idea of Livspace was inspired by our combined frustrations in India, USA, and Singapore, while getting our home designed and realising that instead of it being a fun, enjoyable experience - it's a nightmare. I had an apartment in San Francisco and while I used Houzz to find a designer it literally took me 9 months and lots of misery to get my home designed, from there I started my journey.
Home furnishing is a segment where touch and feel is something that drives customers in. In that context, how do you satisfy your customers?
Home furnishing and interiors, unquestionably is all about experiential eCommerce and at Livspace, it is centric to our business model. At the website level, we strive for top-of-the-line user experience, paying attention to details and assuredly delivering the exact look to our customers, within weeks, as they have seen online.
In addition, and even more importantly, for all our customers who want the touch-and-feel experience, we send out swatch boxes. Furthermore, in pursuit of being responsive to our customer's needs, our experience centres are underway and we would talk more about them in the near future. Interestingly, our customers, happy with our service, have been referring Livspace to people in their own circles - bringing to us potential customers who have already experienced a Livspace home.
Moreover, as a country, we are in the middle of really exciting times - seeing the transition of the Indian consumer getting comfortable with eCommerce not only on computer but mobile as well. A few years ago, selling even a shoe online was a challenge, but today, the home interiors and furnishings market online is ripe for disruption. So, the timing is just right as well.
Online is all about discounts. So how have you priced your products keeping in mind the price sensitive Indian consumer?
The Indian consumer is not only price sensitive, but quality sensitive as well - especially when it comes to the home design segment. Unlike other product categories like fast fashion, durables like home design, furnishings and interiors are a long-term investment and are a lot about building trust as well. Keeping this in mind, Livspace offers a continually growing spectrum of products, that homeowners can customise as per price and aesthetic preference. By the same token, we offer our customers free interior design service and charge nothing for professional design consultation, delivery or installation, in turn, saving the Indian consumer a lot of money on end-to-end home design.
What are your strategies to compete with other home furnishing brands?
The positioning of Livspace, is essentially very different from other players in the market. We aspire to be "your personal home designer". And, as you know, we have pioneered India's first and only end-to-end home design experience and curated marketplace for homeowners and designers to help with our goals.
Three innovations unique to Livspace which help us stay ahead over similar players in the market:
The Dwll and DezignUp acquisition: With Livspace you get the entire home design experience in one place. On phones or web, homeowners, renters, remodelers can discover thousands of designer "looks or spaces" for their homes, personalise the style, colour, etc. to their liking, and then buy the included furniture, accessories, and décor items in a few, easy steps. Within a few weeks, the products arrive and our last-mile partners transform the home to look exactly like the "look or space" you selected.
Online Designer looks or spaces for all rooms in a home: As opposed to buying a piece of chair or table online, which many furniture e-tailers offer and by nature is a low-involvement, replacement-buying experience, designing a home at scale is a highly involved visual and personal experience. Livspace uses design, data science technology, and our exclusive catalogue to create beautiful looks and thousands of pictures optimised for every home, which can be personalised and help homeowners visualise their homes before making an online purchase.
Find that designer look for your apartment before you make any home design purchase: Livspace uses a proprietary algorithm and design method to create "looks or spaces" that are designed for your very apartment. We are adding more and more apartments to our collection and homeowners love the visual experience where they can see their very apartment, personalise the colour, style, etc. and be confident before making a purchase online.
How have you positioned your brand?
As mentioned above, from the very onset, we at Livspace have been clear about our market position as India's first and only end-to-end home design experience and curated marketplace for homeowners and designers. It essentially translates to treating "looks or spaces" as a complete product as opposed to single pieces of furniture and decor items. This solves a big problem for the Indian consumer, looking to transform their complete house into a beautiful home, as opposed to just one corner. The consumer today has a strong consumer appetite for a high-quality, personalised, and predictable experience in the home design & decor market segment, and Livspace is their one-stop solution.
Furthermore, Livspace is thinking out of the box, re-imagining solutions and bringing a fresh perspective to the table. Being a technology-and-design first company - we are using our design, data science, disruptive engineering framework and execution capabilities to take away complications and make design simple again for the consumer.
Are you planning to raise funds?
At the moment, we do not have any announcements in this regard. But we will be raising an appropriate amount of funding to support our growth strategy at the appropriate time.
What according to you is the future of home furnishing industry?
The home furnishing industry in India, is witnessing hyper-growth and a sea change. The metrics really speak for themselves.
Across India, many families are now buying their first homes, getting their existing homes upgraded, or many who're just interested in making their homes look beautiful. In general, there is an increased consciousness of good home design that is created with passion and expertise, and products that look good, are personalised and can be easily acquired.
In India alone, the home design & decor market is poised to grow to over US$ 25B by 2017 from US$ 13B in 2010 fuelled by over 25% YoY growth in the organised retail sector.
This year alone, as many as 350,000 new homes will be bought across just the major metros and the vast majority of them will need to get their home designed, kitchens and wardrobes installed, and make their home beautiful.
How do you plan to expand your foothold in the country?
At Livspace, in the near future we will grow across the top metros in India soon. We're excited to work very closely with our channel partners and this would include developers, designer marketplaces like Dwll.in, DezignUp and others, and online real estate portals to grow the business. We're hiring top talent across the board and the key functions include engineering, designers, data scientists, and go-to-market professionals to manage our explosive growth.
Unlike the more traditional Internet companies in India, we're using technology, data science, and clever experiential tactics to drive demand. One growth tactic is to build further on our "find your apartment" feature where you can select your apartment by layout and then discover designs customised for your apartment. Our consumers love it that they can see designs created for their apartments before they buy it.