The working population in India drives consumption, and demographics suggest that a good part of it is at a life stage where they would be buying their first home. Real Estate in India may be in a slump, but the people who buy houses like to do it up well. Today, global Indians aspire to eat, drink and live the way Millennials and Yuppies do in other parts of the developed world.
This results in a great opportunity in the domain of Home Interiors with the home furnishing industry in India being pegged at $ 10 billion. 85% of this market is unorganized, and is characterized by a high friction buying process, with no clarity in terms of quality and pricing. There is a genuine gap that many an online player is trying to cater to, and one needs to be on top of this to break through the clutter.
Here are five things that one should keep in mind if you wish to startup in the home furnishing space.
The home interiors buying process is one of high friction and is characterized by the quote seeking behavior of customers. Several weekends are spent evaluating vendors, and understanding jargon-laden product specifications. Our marketplace model was conceived with this pretext, as was the InstaQuote (a proprietary Estimator Tool), which enables vendor-wide price comparisons. This eased out the research phase for a consumer to a considerable extent.
2. Know Thyself
Early on, take a call on critical strategic decisions. This means determining your business model, your key strengths and focus areas. Decide if you want to take a White label approach or if you’d rather be a Marketplace. In this Industry, it is also critical to strike the right balance between Technology and Design. There are umpteen firms with a design focus in this space, both in an offline and in an online context. To carve out a niche for yourself, it is critical to use cutting edge technology and constantly innovate. We are a tech-led organization which ensures that the processes that we create are relevant to changing customer needs and henceforth increase efficiency.
3. Cultivate High Customer Sensitivity
It pays to be receptive to customer needs. In our early days, we offered only modular kitchens and wardrobes, but quickly realized that most consumers look for a one point contact to execute full interiors. Hence the decision to onboard not just specialist brands, but also design firms with turnkey project execution capabilities. It also meant a shift in focus from modular to semi-modular, in order to cater to the demands of a larger audience.
4. Create Multiple Touch-Points
Most consumers go through the process of buying interiors just once in their lifetime. And they are expensive. It’s a high involvement product that customers want to experience before buying. It pays to have both online and offline customer touch-points for deeply engaging with your target audience. Indians are still on a learning curve when it comes to buying furnishings completely online. The Online to Offline (O2O) model works immensely well for this industry with quality lead generation being the critical online aspect and showrooming, the offline one.
5. Empower Your Sales Personnel
Considering the consultative nature of selling home interiors, it is a good idea to invest in an efficient sales force. They lend your online entity a face, an identity that consumers can connect with. It is crucial to empower your sales personnel and also keep them updated on latest trends and technology.
And lastly, be Patient!
This industry is characterized by a long cycle time. Consumers are deeply involved and decision making is usually collective and prolonged. Just remember that the unit economics is excellent and every single customer is worth your effort and mindshare!