In the times when companies, startups, and entrepreneurs are looking to sell almost every product on internet, furniture has remained an item that is considered too pricey (and even unique) to try online. Some of the consumers state that furniture carries a certain kind of emotional value to the purchase because they will be using it both for its functionality as well as decoration purposes.
In the challenging scenario where selling, delivering and post-sales services could pose stringent situations for the startups, MebelKart offers a new hope.
We present an email interview with Ranjeet of MebelKart
Q1. Tell us how you got the idea to start MebelKart?
I was looking to buy a quality study chair with headrest. I started searching for them in local shops in my neighborhood. To my utter dismay I found the local shops selling them at very high costs. The shopkeeper gave me 3 options to choose from. I had very little choice of colour, material or design. Moreover, they were not at all branded or had a warranty attached to it. The shop owner gave me a revolving chair for Rs.8000. I had to also pay additional Rs.500 to pay for the delivery.
I discussed the situation with my friends who said that they had similar experience with Bean Bags, Almirahs, Mattresses. We all wanted to change this. We decided with a vision to make this all easy. Using the technology and internet we could simplify this. So my friends and me started working on this idea from July 2012. We were actively brainstorming on the ways in which we could make it easy to the user. We interacted with several users and understood their pains. We finally launched our first product : Mebelkart.com to make it easy for the users to browse various furnitures and home decor items from the comfort of their homes at minimal costs. We are currently operational in Bangalore and Mumbai and going to other cities like Hyderabad, Delhi and Pune soon.
Q2. What market-size you are tapping?
The size of this market is US$ 12 billion which includes home/office furniture and home decor. Out of this 85% of the market is unorganized and unfragmented. Even the corporate deliveries are being handled by local players. With the increase in online penetration from 10% to 28% by 2015, this sector will witness a huge boom.
Q3. What types of customers you cater to presently?
We have a lot of Customers who browse our products, spend time on the portal and buy things. Our customers include working professionals and youth who order online. With the addition of better designed products. We deal with startups and small medium enterprises who purchase in bulk from us.
Q4. How has been the response till now given that buyers prefer to visit a physical store for buying furniture?
The response has been good so far, the number of sales are going up on a weekly basis and we have been receiving a fair amount of enquiries. Customers do like to visit a physical store for buying furniture as of now, but given the unorganised nature of the market, it is very hard for a customer to find exactly what they are looking for, the pricing varies a lot and the customer can not be sure of the quality that has gone into manufacturing the product. There are infinite number of new designs that are available in this field for each furniture and home decor category which are not available to the customer or even the customer is not aware of. We combine all such basic necessities under one roof. With strict quality checks we ensure that only quality products are available to the customer. And in terms of reach, we can reach over 1000’s of zip codes in India which is physically impossible for any showroom chain.
Q5. What promotional activities you use to market MebelKart.com?
Mebelkart is using the preferred ways of promotion as other startup companies which includes social media, adwords, blogs, newsletters & most importantly customer referrals. We are very rigid on providing utmost satisfaction to the customer.
Q6. Is there competition and how you distinguish yourself from the traditional showrooms?
The competition in this market is immense. Etailing in India is growing at a good pace and this is still an untapped market for etailers and competition among etailers in this segment is also emerging. The advantage we have over traditional showrooms range from availability of designs, better & uniform costs. Approximately 70% of the customers still get items made by choosing the design from the catalog of these showrooms. Morever these designs will be readily available with some other showroom at the other end of the city. So, there is definitely a huge room for etailers in this segment. With people beginning to trust etailers, and continuous improvements in technology around virtualization will help us solve this problem.
Q7. What plans are there for the future?
We are building web & mobile technologies for making a customer’s selection procedure & purchase easier. We are expanding our operation in other cities Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai and also we are adding more and more categories to our portfolio.
Q8. A message you would like to convey to our readers about starting their own venture.
Find the right team with Complementary skills. Solve a tough and scalable problem. Starting up is really tough (Physically,emotionally and mentally).Before starting up be ready for the ride of your lifetime.