Home is where the heart is. And most often our heart may not lie in home decorating. This is why we can thank Urban Ladder, which has revolutionised the way Indians shop for their homes. The online furniture and home décor company was launched with the idea of making your home beautiful by the click of a button. Set up in July 2012 by Ashish Goel and Rajiv Srivatsa, the website is a curated marketplace for home solutions, to help the urban Indian build well-furnished, beautiful homes.
But first, a little on the founders. Both Ashish and Rajiv are IITians and studied MBA at IIM-Bangalore. While Ashish joined McKinsey & Company as engagement manager and later went on to serve as managing director of India Book House and Chief Operating Officer at Amar Chitra Katha Media, Rajiv joined Cognizant Technology Solutions and went on to become a senior product manager with Yahoo Emerging Markets.
Interestingly, the realisation that furniture shopping is not an easy task came from a personal pain point for Rajiv and Ashish. “After having moved to Bangalore, our houses were devoid of any kind of furniture because of the lack of trusted furniture brands. We noticed that there wasn’t a single brand, online or offline, which had the reputation of being a one-stop shop for every kind of furniture need. Hence, seeing a market opportunity and customer need in this category, and the quick adoption of e-commerce in India, we started Urban Ladder,” says Rajiv. The duo set up Urban Ladder after raising $1 million from Kalaari Capital before launching in 2012.
Today, the website provides over 4,000 products and 35 categories such as wardrobes, sofas, beds, dining tables, storage shelves etc., to choose from. The furniture is closely curated with design inputs from Urban Ladder’s in-house team of experienced designers. The Urban Ladder team aims to provide shoppers with a wide range of contemporary designs and high quality, handcrafted furniture that blends beauty with functionality along with easy accessibility. The website’s seamless user interface and easy navigation enhances the virtual showroom experience.
“Design and quality of the product is extremely important to us. Our design principles have helped us differentiate ourselves in the market, and we hold a very tight process of curating good designs. Our design team works very closely with our sellers and manufacturers to ensure that Urban Ladder’s design philosophy is visible across all products on our website,” says Rajiv.
A friendly and dedicated customer service team ensures customers have a hassle-free shopping experience, and a well-trained logistics team provides safe doorstep delivery and installation.
Today the company employs a team of 700 and delivers to 14 cities in India (Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi/NCR, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Surat, Kolkata, Mangaluru, Jaipur and Baroda) and this number is expected to grow soon.
We wonder if the company has observed any interesting buying pattern from customers who are buying home decor products online. Says Rajiv: “Categories such as coffee tables, bookshelves and wall shelves have been our bestsellers since launch. One category which has shown immense growth and is soon becoming very popular in terms of sales is sofas. Though it is a high ticket item and people believe touch and feel is crucial, our sofas are managing to bypass most other bestsellers.”
That’s also probably because of the innovative solutions Urban Ladder offers to sofa customers. The touch and feel problem is addressed with Sofa Trial Room, a service offered to potential buyers who can “choose to try our sofas in the comfort of their homes.” “Our sofa experts take the product to the customer’s home and let them decide which model they like, or if they would like to make the purchase at all,’ says Rajiv. Little wonder then that the company won the IAMAI Award for best Digital Startup in 2013.
Interestingly, most of the company’s folding furniture like sofa cum beds, folding dining tables etc do extremely well in Mumbai because of the space constraints in houses there.
What sets Urban Ladder on a league of its own is the sharp focus on design thinking (online and physical products) and “customer experience has helped us stay ahead in the market and establish a clear positioning for ourselves”. “Our focus is on getting world-class furniture designs to the Indian audience and providing exceptional customer experience to make furniture shopping easy and accessible,” says Rajiv. Future plans include strengthening the company’s product portfolio and introducing new categories such as home décor and modular solutions. “We will expand our geographical presence to 30 cities by the end of the year. Another focus area for us is technology. We have an opportunity to innovate and build technological solutions that will make online furniture shopping extremely easy for the customer,” adds Rajiv. Log on to urbanladder.com and start shopping.