Urban Ladder will invest about ₹ 12 crore in the next six to eight months to roll out at least three new categories—floors, walls and bathroom fittings—and strengthen its décor portfolio to graduate from an online furniture store to a one-stop home furnishings provider.
The company will also pump in about ₹ 35-40 crore in the next 18 months into modular kitchens and wardrobes, both big-ticket and high-margin categories that were launched over the past four months.
While the floors and walls categories will be rolled out by December, bathroom fittings will be launched by March. Together, these categories are expected to account for about one-third of the company’s revenue by the end of 2016, a company executive said.
The company is also setting up a comprehensive team of design consultants to advise consumers on furniture purchases and doing up their homes, a service offered by smaller rivals HomeLane and Livspace.
Home buyers will be the initial targets for the new categories.
“They (home buyers) will give us the keys to their houses and then 15 to 20 days later, allow us to give them the experience of walking into their dream home. For giving that experience, there are a few adjunct categories for which it is absolutely necessary to find the best answer for," said Ashish Goel, co-founder and chief executive.
The company plans to source most of the products from India, but will also consider China and Poland.
Urban Ladder has appointed Parag Shah, a former Pipapav Defence and Offshore Engineering Co. Ltd executive, to lead the modular kitchen and wardrobe segments while Prithvi Tejavath, founder of BuynBrag, a furniture and home decor marketplace acquired by Urban Ladder, will lead the other new categories.
Goel said Urban Ladder is on course to clocking $100 million in revenue this financial year that ends in March.
Urban Ladder’s move comes at a time when HomeLane and Livspace are offering end-to-end home solutions and design consultation to customers. Experts said such services help not only to increase earnings because of the higher transaction value but also to retain consumers, whose loyalty can sway on the basis of discounts and offers.
“When you are doing a new house, you will anyway need wallpapers or bathroom fittings. It helps boost revenues and e-commerce is also about topline. With these items, ticket size goes up and hence, the topline increases. Besides, it helps retain customers on your platform," said Anand Ramanathan, director at KPMG Advisory Services, a consultancy firm.
For instance, Sequoia Capital-backed HomeLane, which started out with fixed furnitures such as modular kitchens and wardrobes, has introduced categories such as wallpapers, lighting and removable furniture.
“We would want to become a one-stop solution for all home-furnishing needs. This gives us a good traction with customers," said Rama Harinath, co-founder at HomeLane. “In most of the cases, we are doing other home design services as well, along with fixed furnishings. This definitely helps with upselling."
Investors have pumped in ample cash into online home stores since April this year. Urban Ladder secured $50 million from Sequoia Capital and TR Capital and others in April; Pepperfry raised $100 million in a round led by Goldman Sachs and Zodius Technology Fund in July; and Livspace mopped up $8 million from Helion Ventures, Jungle Ventres and Bessemer Venture Partners in August.