Bengaluru: Homevista Decor and Furnishing Pvt. Ltd, which runs online interior design and furniture company HomeLane.com, plans to invest $5 million to expand its experience centre network across the country.

The company, which currently operates seven such centres across Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai, is looking to set up eight more centres over the next nine months.

Around Rs15-20 crore of the $5 million (Rs33.68 crore) will be used to set up the infrastructure for new experience centres, HomeLane co-founder and chief executive officer Srikanth Iyer and chief business officer Tanuj Choudhry said in an interview.

While a bulk of the investments will go towards marketing, the Bengaluru-based company also plans to focus on ramping up its use of show-flats and mobile showrooms.

It also plans to tweak its product portfolio to offer solutions for the affordable housing segment.

Other furniture retailers, including Pepperfry and Urban Ladder, have also been focusing on increasing their offline presence.

“The customer wants to touch and feel (the products) because it is (usually) a big-ticket purchase and customised. We feel these centres have helped us, so we are expanding that significantly over the next few quarters. We will literally have one new store coming up every month until the end of the year. We are also looking to get Rs200 crore in run-rate by March 2019, and these (experience centres) will be key to us getting there," said Iyer.

The company takes apartments, or show-flats, on rent and furnishes them with modular furniture for potential customers to have first-hand experience. It also converts trucks into mobile showrooms and parks them near under-construction apartment complexes to showcase its products to homebuyers.

HomeLane will open two more experience centres in Bengaluru and one each in Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai. It currently operates out of a show-flat in Delhi-NCR, but plans to open one experience centre each in Noida and Gurgaon.

The experience centres, show-flats, mobile showrooms and its virtual interior design platform, Spacecraft, have all contributed to the 100% jump in customer count, said Choudhry. HomeLane claims to add close to 200 new customers every month, almost doubling its customer acquisition rate from six months ago.

The company’s average ticket size is Rs6.5-7 lakh. Targeting the affordable segment means tweaking its solutions to cater to an average ticket size half that amount.

“Our logic is if somebody is spending Rs35-40 lakh for an affordable house, which is like 700-900 sq. ft., they will be willing to spend about 10% on the interiors, which is Rs3.5-4 lakh. We are working on a lot of product changes, space-saving furniture, multi-purpose furniture, and other variants at a price point that will fit this budget," Iyer said.

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