Wednesday 22 July 2015

Furniture e-tailers like Urban Ladder, FabFurnish gear up to offer complete home design solutions

Decorating home isn't a mean task and online furniture retailers want to help you in getting it right. Some of these firms are seeking to provide end-to-end solutions, including the services of design consultants, to help you pick all the stuff needed to dress up your home.

Online furniture retailer Urban Ladder is all set to launch categories such as bed linen and modular kitchens under its own label. Marketplace FabFurnish is overhauling its business model to include interior design services.

"We want to be a one-stop for our users who have asked us if we could put together the look for their homes," said Rajiv Srivatsa, chief operating officer at Urban Ladder, which raised Rs 462 crore across four rounds of funding till date. "We will not be doing the flooring or walls but will launch solutions which cover furniture, furnishings and home decor."

Arvind Singhal, chairman and managing director of consulting firm Technopak, said such services to help a person zero in on a purchase would drive customer loyalty, but finding certified designers would be a big challenge for the companies which would like to scale to small cities and towns as well.

The new services overlap with the home design solutions offered by portals such as Bessemer and Helion-backed LivSpace, which help customers decide on a certain 'look' for the home through consultation with designers on its platform and put it together from the products on their catalogue.

"Home design is different from online furniture retail, comprising 70 to 80 product categories and services. Most of the furniture commerce portals can only ship one product at a time while we typically furnish a three-bedroom apartment within a fortnight," said Anuj Srivastava, cofounder and chief executive of LivSpace.

Most of the brands are taking the app route to help customers visualise and design furniture. App features allow the user to drag and drop products and visualise them in the room using augmented reality and virtual reality.

"From the start we have customisation as our USP and the feature to upload a design onto our platform has brought us great response. We do not intend to enter the services space with civil works in the apartment," said Ajit Shegaonkar, founder and CEO of Stitchwood, a three-month-old customised furniture portal that raised an angel round from Powai Lake Ventures earlier this month.

While home design platform LivSpace is open to introducing international brands on its portal over time, Urban Ladder plans to increase offerings under the private label, launching modular kitchen and furnishings such as bed linen.

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