“The biggest opportunities lie in mobile commerce”: Retailer Q&A with Nabru
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With Walmsley’s currently teetering on the high street, and chains like Habitat, Land of Leather and MFI having collapsed in the last few years, the present economic climate is not exactly an easy time to be a furniture retailer. Constrained consumer spending, a sluggish housing market, and a fiercely competitive sector mean that weaker players are being routinely squeezed out.
At the same time, another disruptive factor within the market has been the emergence of new online sofa and furniture specialists – many of whom I get to work with via CannySites.com’s Home Interiors Directory site – and who benefit from not bearing the costs associated with a string of expensive high street or retail park locations.
One of those Internet-based retailers is Nabru, and I recently spoke to the company’s Iain Cowsill about how the business is making its mark – and looking to grow – at a time when so many others in the sector are finding the going tough.
Q. Tell me a little bit about your business – where is it based, what’s its history, and what does it do?
Here at Nabru we manufacture and retail our own line of sofas and sofa beds which we sell via the Internet. We specialise in self-assembly, flat-pack sofas that are guaranteed to fit into any room, loft or basement – we are proud to say that we have never had a customer call us up and say that they couldn’t get one of our sofas into their home!
We are based in Uxbridge, which is not far from Heathrow Airport, and the business was founded in 2005. We are proud of what we have achieved in the years since 2005 and continue to work hard to ensure that our customers enjoy the products that we offer and to ensure that we offer an excellent customer experience.
Q. And what’s your own role in the business?
I am a Director of the Company.
Q. What’s your business model, and why? Is it bricks, clicks or both?
We are an online retailer, though we do have a factory showroom here at our site in Uxbridge where people can come along and “kick the tyres” so to speak. Even though we offer free returns we find that some people are concerned when buying big-ticket items over the Internet and occasionally we find that some customers will travel as much as four or five hours to see our sofas before purchasing.
Q. Looking forward, what do you see as the greatest opportunities for a business like yours at the moment?
I would say that the biggest opportunities lie in mobile commerce, opening a shop which is more centrally located in London, and the potential to move into European markets. We are also considering complimentary products that would work well with the Nabru brand.
Q. And what about the main challenges?
A concern is the increasing cost of online advertising and Google’s focus on “big” companies. This means smaller companies such as our own find it harder to achieve good rankings in the natural search listings.
Q. Where do you hope your business will be in five years’ time?
Bigger and better!
Retailer Q&A is a new format where Soult’s Retail View talks to retailers – large or small, and whether bricks, clicks or multichannel – about their current innovations, aspirations and challenges. As always with Soult’s Retail View, the features are not paid for – it’s all about providing interesting stories and content for the blog’s readers. If you run a retail business and are interested in taking part in the feature, please drop me an email or a tweet.